Teaching reading comprehension can be tricky! While many reading comprehension skills seem like they should be straightforward, it takes planning and focus to help your students master them. I like to use 2 main tools when planning a reading comprehension lesson: mini lessons and mentor texts. Let’s break down why I love them and how you can use them in your classroom!
Mini Lessons: What are they and why should we use them?
Whenever I’m planning a reading comprehension lesson, I always use mini lessons! Why are they so great? A mini lesson normally lasts around 10 minutes, which is just about how long your students will be able to focus! Sticking to a mini lesson helps keep you focused while planning. You don’t have time to add in extra information, instead just focus on teaching one skill!
How do you organize a reading comprehension mini lesson?
- Connection: Connect the lesson to what was previously taught or to something in their lives. This should be very simple and to the point.
- Teaching Point: State what you are teaching concisely. Again, this should be simple and to the point.
- Teach: Teach your students! Make sure to focus on only one concept.
- Active Engagement: This is where your students are actively participating in guided instruction. Examples of this include:
- Hand Up/Pair Up: When teaching a new comprehension skills (i.e. character traits), give each student a card with a character trait on it. Students will walk around the room while you play music. When you stop the music, they must go to the closest friend, read their card, and then state whether it’s an inside trait or outside trait. Then, they trade cards. Start the music again and repeat 2-3 times. Then, when back on the carpet, students can sort them on the board on a t-chart.
- Scavenger Hunt: Students have a non-fiction text and look through for a non-fiction text feature. They can jot it down on a sticky note.
- Link: This is the closure of your lesson. Restate your teaching point. Tell students how they can apply their knowledge from this lesson to what they are reading.
When should you use mentor texts?
Mentor texts let you show students the reading comprehension skill that you’re teaching in a text. They might make your mini lesson go longer, but they are so important!
There are two places in your mini lesson you can use a mentor text. A great time to use them is during the teaching portion of your lesson. This lets your students learn the reading comprehension skill and see how it can be applied at the same time. Another time you can use it is at the end of your lesson to create a link and show your students how to apply their knowledge.
No matter where you use a mentor text during your mini lesson, they provide a concrete example of how to apply the reading comprehension skill you’re learning about.
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