Comprehension is a really important part of the reading process. It is the entire reason for reading. Understanding what you are reading can take you places, teach you new things and help you find your way. Many students I am working with have difficulty recalling what they just read. Jennifer Serravallo says, we have all had students who retell every little detail and other students who don’t retell very much. While, still, other students add all sorts of additional information that didn’t even come from the text. Jennifer says that “understanding (the) plot is the most basic of comprehension goals for students reading fiction”. This goal is where my students have difficulty retelling who, what and where. They either say too many details; add their own details or they don’t say very much at all. For example, “He went to the farm.” Ugh! The following strategies can help students understand the plot of a fiction text better.
Goal 5.1 - Lean on the Pictures: This strategy is recommended for guided reading (Fountas & Pinnell) levels A-K, using a fiction text. The CAFÉ strategies are determining importance and retelling.
This is what I did this week. During reading groups, I asked students “What were the most important things that happened? Retell the story for me from the beginning.” When they struggled, I asked them to lean on the pictures. “Look at this page, what are the most important things that happened?” I guided them through the pictures in this manner until we had finished retelling all the pictures. During this time, I also included Check for Understanding - “Who is the character? What are they doing? using a visual aid – the check mark.
I can’t tell how it is going, yet. I still have more work to do. I’ll keep you posted on student progress.
Here are a few strategies I want to try.
Goal 5.2 – Title Power: This strategy is recommended for guided reading levels C-M, using a fiction text. The CAFÉ strategy is determining importance.
In this goal, students will read the title of the book. They will keep the title in their mind as they read. They will think about the events and how they connect back to the title.
- Check the title. What does the title connect to in the story?
- Think of the title. What is the problem?
- Keeping the title in mind. What are the most important things that happened?
Goal 5.3 – Summarizing What’s Most Essential: This strategy is recommended for guided reading levels E-K, using fiction text. The CAFÉ strategy is summarizing.
In this goal, students are retelling the important events in the order in which they occurred and in a way that makes sense.
- Say the beginning in a shorter way.
- Can you say that in a shorter way?
- Just tell me the one important thing that happened in the beginning.
- You told me 5 things that happened in the middle. Which two or three were most important?