Three Easy Ways to Increase Reading Comprehension

Copyright 2005 Adam Waxler The primary purpose of reading is comprehension, or understanding. Unless you comprehend what you read you might as well be reading a different language. Unfortunately, for many students school reading may actually seem like a different language. That's okay - by using various teaching strategies teachers can greatly increase their student's reading comprehension. Today, more and more teachers realize that reading is not the sole responsibility of the language arts teacher. However, many teachers struggle to come up with ways to actually increase reading comprehension in the classroom. The key to increasing reading comprehension is to tap into students' prior knowledge about a topic before actually reading about the topic. There are many ways teachers can go about tapping into students prior knowledge such as Venn diagrams, KWL Charts, and prediction strategies. 1. Venn diagrams - while Venn diagrams are usually used after reading as a way to compare and contrast something the students just read about, Venn diagrams can also be a great tool to use before reading as a way to increase reading comprehension. For example, students can create a Venn diagram on the similarities and differences between the North and the South at the beginning of the U.S. Civil War. Prior to the reading the students can create their Venn diagram based on what they already know about the topic. From there the students can pair up and share their Venn diagrams to further build on their background knowledge. Once the Venn diagram is completed the students can then read about the topic. After the students complete the reading they should go back and check their Venn diagram, make corrections, and add any new information. By encouraging the students to think about the topic prior to reading the assignment, the students will increase their reading comprehension. 2. Prediction Strategies - another way to tap into students prior knowledge and increase reading comprehension is to have students make predictions about the topic prior to reading. There are many different types of prediction strategies a teacher can use to increase reading comprehension. Here is an example of a simple prediction strategy: