Hey there, teacher peeps! In this post I want to share with you a useful Reading Comprehension Strategies list to help you plan your Guided Reading instruction for Fluent readers. Comprehension skills and vocabulary building should be the main focus of your teaching time with these students, so let’s dig in and see how to build them into our Fluent reader lesson plans.
Characteristics of Fluent Readers (Levels N+)
Ya gotta love those Fluent readers! Their decoding skills are usually on point, and they’re reading with appropriate speed and accuracy. Fluent readers have built a large vocabulary of sight words and high frequency words they can read with automaticity.
Sweet!! Our work here is done! Let’s pat each other on the back and go sit in the teacher’s lounge. 😉
OF COURSE, we know better than that! Although fluent readers may read smoothly and with confidence, they still have work to do–and so do we.
A fluent reader’s greatest need is in the area of reading comprehension. In light of this, our Guided Reading lesson plans should include in-depth, explicit teaching of higher-level reading comprehension skills. These are the skills and strategies that will help our fluent readers learn to derive meaning from the texts they read.
Reading Comprehension Strategies List
There are 14 basic reading comprehension strategies Fluent readers need to master. Because they’re encountering more complex, challenging texts, it’s essential for these students to be able to use and apply higher-level comprehension skills to help them construct meaning while reading.
During your Fluent readers’ Guided Reading lesson, explicitly teach and model new strategies from the Reading Comprehension Strategies list below. As you do, you’ll give your students the tools they need to engage with the texts they read and gain a deeper understanding of them.
It’s also important to help your students understand the reason behind the strategies you are teaching. At the start of the lesson, tell the students the comprehension focus they’ll be learning. Next, explain to them how using that skill will help them become better readers. Finally, teach and model the strategy and give your kiddos plenty of opportunities to practice using the new skill.
14 Reading Comprehension Strategies:
- Self-monitoring for comprehension
- Vocabulary development
- Asking & answering questions based on key details in the text
- Identification of main idea and/or central message in the text
- Analyzing characters and their traits
- Making inferences and drawing conclusions
- Summarizing main points of a story or text
- Evaluation of author’s purpose, theme, and point of view (with text evidence)
- Comparing & contrasting
- Analyzing cause & effect relationships
- Identification and use of nonfiction text features
- Understanding text structure (sequential, chronological, descriptive, cause/effect, etc.)
- Understanding fact vs. opinion
Each of these 14 strategies can help your students dig for meaning in the texts they encounter. Choose 1 or 2 higher-level strategies to focus on during each Guided Reading lesson. Remember: Explicitly teach and model the strategy; then give students the opportunity to practice.
How to Choose a Comprehension Focus from the Reading Comprehension Strategies List
Fluent readers should already have an understanding of self-monitoring for comprehension as well as retelling and asking and answering questions based on key details. With that in mind, the majority of your focused instructional time with Fluent readers should be spent on higher-level strategies. Teach these students new strategies such as identifying the central message, analyzing characters and their traits, making inferences or summarizing.
Remember: Fluent readers are capable of metacognition, or “thinking about thinking.” Becoming aware of their own thought processes will help your students learn to monitor for meaning and use the strategies they’ve learned. Consequently, they’ll be better prepared to tackle difficult passages of text. Deep discussion is key with these readers. As they become more familiar with text structure and begin to use the higher-level comprehension skills you’re teaching, these students will become contextual readers. As they learn to read for meaning, they’ll soon discover they are reading to learn.
Systems of Strategic Actions
The Systems of Strategic Actions (SOSA) wheel, developed by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, illustrates the areas of thinking that readers engage in as they process texts. All readers, from early readers just learning decoding skills through highly literate, seasoned readers, simultaneously use a variety of actions from these twelve systems as they read.
Thinking Within the Text
Careful observation, monitoring and assessment will help you identify the actions a reader takes in the area of “Thinking Within the Text.” Most of these strategic actions take place without conscious effort, as a reader searches for and uses information to monitor, decode and self-correct.
Thinking Beyond the Text
As a reader engages in “Thinking Beyond the Text,” he or she is using their own thought processes to gain understanding of the text. They synthesize new information by comparing it to and building upon what they already know. They make inferences from prior knowledge, and they make connections to their personal experiences or to other texts they’ve encountered.
Thinking About the Text
Finally, a reader processes what he or she reads by “Thinking About the Text.” To help expand a student’s literacy processing system, help them understand how to think critically about the words they read and analyze the writer’s craft. As they grow in their ability to think critically about texts and evaluate text structure, readers begin to understand and appreciate the meaning of words and the value of a well-crafted sentence.
Provide challenging, instructional level texts; then teach and model the strategies your students need to process and comprehend those texts. The 14 skills listed in the Reading Comprehension Strategies list I shared earlier are the keys to helping your readers progress in literacy. Evaluate how they incorporate these strategies within their Systems of Strategic Actions; then help them strengthen their cognitive processing systems as they tackle more difficult texts.
For more about the Fountas & Pinnell Systems of Strategic Actions wheel, check out this post – https://www.facebook.com/FountasandPinnell/posts/this-systems-of-strategic-actions-sosa-wheel-is-meant-to-illustrate-the-thinking/10153817131445588/
Reading Comprehension Activities for Fluent Readers
Students at this level are able to read independently and silently, so when planning lessons for fluent readers, choose short, thought-provoking leveled texts in either fiction or non-fiction genres.
Set a purpose for the reading by assigning a comprehension focus. Explicitly teach and model the strategy; then give students a practice activity to complete as they are reading.
For example, if you’re teaching the strategy of making inferences, have the students complete an inferring activity. My Guided Reading Novel-Its include a fun “Say What” comprehension activity that’s shaped like a iPhone. This is an accordion-booklet in which kiddos practice making inferences. Their written responses will include inferences made as follows:
- First, “Something the Character Said” (student writes a character quote and makes an inference from it);
- Second, “Something the Character Did” (student identifies an action the character took and explains what they can infer from it); and
- Third, “Something the Character Thought” (student writes about a character’s thought process that was included by the author and tells what they inferred from the character’s thoughts).
Tier-2 Vocabulary Instruction
When it comes to Fluent readers, they are moving right along! Sight words? Check.
So, what’s next on the list? Where Fluent readers are concerned, Tier-2 vocabulary words come next. These are the more advanced, high-frequency words they need to learn. Widely used in mature writing and speaking, Tier 2 words appear in various contexts and can relate to a wide range of topics.
A solid vocabulary plays a role in both fluency and comprehension; therefore instruction for your Fluent readers should include the opportunity to encounter and learn Tier-2 words. (Examples of Second Grade Tier-2 vocabulary words include: conclusion, enormous, unorthodox, and incriminating.) Teach your students to read, write and understand these words, and you’ll build their confidence as well as their fluency and comprehension skills!
Choose Vocabulary Words from Guided Reading Level Texts
If your students are grouped appropriately, the Guided Reading level texts your fluent readers encounter will contain some words that present a challenge as they read. Review the text as you plan your lesson, and choose 2-3 difficult words to focus on during the lesson. Use your vocabulary instruction time to introduce these words.
First, read the word, then write it on a whiteboard and give students a short, simply worded definition. If time permits: before giving the definition, use the word in a sentence and see if they can solve the definition using contextual clues from the sentence.
You might also instruct the students in this group to make note of unfamiliar words they encounter as they read. Instruct them to mark these words with a Post-It note on which they’ll write the word. Next, they should find the word in the dictionary and write its definition. Next time the group meets, discuss the new vocabulary words you taught and allow students to share the other new words they encountered and learned.
How have you taught the skills from the Reading Comprehension Strategies List?
I love hearing from other teachers, and I especially love it when you share insights and creative tips to help your fellow educators. Have you found a fantastically fun way of teaching one (or more) of these comprehension strategies to your fluent readers? If so, share it in the comments section below!
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Hope this was helpful, peeps. Keep teaching, and never stop learning!