I’m halfway through my second year of providing intervention services on a pullout basis to struggling readers. I thought I would share the materials I’m using with my students to increase comprehension in the hopes that this might help someone else and that you might have additional resources you might recommend.
About My Intervention
As my students are scoring below basic and far below basic on California CST (standardized tests in our state) and are scoring intensive on state-written Open Court assessments, I use only supplementary materials with them i.e. not their core language arts program, Open Court. This is considered Tier Two Intervention in the Response to Intervention model.
I see groups of 2-12 students for periods of 20-60 minutes.
I have tried reading authentic literature with struggling students and practicing using reading strategies. I think I helped students gain confidence in reading and develop oral comprehension ability. However, for the most part what they gained did not translate to increased test scores.
Many of my students are able to answer oral questions about text they read and yet will answer every question wrong on a multiple choice test. I’m trying a mix of high and low level thinking. My students need practice reading questions and choosing the best answer but they also need to be able to think outside of the box and being to problem solve.
I had been using the Steck-Vaughn Reading Comprehension Skills Series and really appreciated that the stories were engaging and that the accompanying questions not only addressed simple recall but also got to higher level thinking like inference and drawing conclusions. Unfortunately, in the limited time I have with students I am finding that it’s a bit unruly to work through this series and manage all the paperwork and correcting necessary. Each story, including questions, take up about five or six pages.
So…plan b. I’m now using free printable comprehension passages from English for Everyone.org These are just one page and come with answer sheet. And did I mention they’re free? These do not get to higher level thinking but they do get to higher level test taking with several options of “all of the above” or “both a & c” that force students to read carefully. I do one page with students and then have them do one page without me that we then correct.
For higher level thinking I’m using Mind Benders which are logic puzzles that get progressively harder. You have to start with the lowest level even if you have upper grades students and then work your way up. Most students are not used to thinking in this way but once they start to grasp deductive reasoning I am hoping this increases their ability to infer and teachers them to think more critically about what they’re reading and remember to clarify misunderstandings. (See some examples of logic puzzles here and a harder one here).
So there you have it, my mix of higher and lower level thinking. I’ll let you know how it’s going a month from now. Please let me know how you’re increasing comprehension in your classrooms in the comments below.