Ways to Improve Reading Comprehension

This Reading Mama lists 5 simple ways to improve reading comprehension and  her experience in using SNAP Learning to meet comprehension goals.

For children who struggle as readers (and even for those who don’t), comprehension is a big deal. And it starts from the very beginning. Before kids even open the book, we need to encourage them to think about what they are going to read. We can ask them to read the title or look at the cover, maybe even the Table of Contents. What is the topic? What do they already know about the topic? What do they think will happen in the story, based off what they know?

Using background knowledge is also vital as the child reads the text. What would I do in that situation? Has that happened to me before? I remember the time that… These thought patterns rely on what the child already knows to help them comprehend and make sense of the text.

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Why Technology Can Make all the Difference To Improving Reading

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Today I bought a simple learning device for a young learner (aged 4). He comes from a family background which does not speak English, much less read and write it. They support and encourage his learning, but are unable to instruct or correct him and are dependent on him paying attention to what is taught in the class. His grandmother spoke to me about listening to him read, so that I would be able to tell if he was reading right or not.

The device was a very simple digital book reader, which on touching various pictures on the screen would give the English word for the letter or word. In addition to the ABCs, the book had pages for animals, vegetables, fruits, common ABC words (Like A for Apple, B for Ball, etc.)  numbers, and counting. This was pretty much similar to the content that was being covered in his Kindergarten school.

For ESL teachers and students, technology can be a real boon to reading and writing. Here are some of the ways in which today’s devices, learning technologies and ebooks can help early readers:

LEARNING THROUGH IMITATION

Listening to the correct pronunciation is important when learning how to read. We learn languages by imitating how others speak. Students need to hear the correct pronunciation of a word, and usage of a phrase or sentence to be able to connect this puzzle within the broader context of language..

Phonetic Assistance: Technology today provides students with a wide range of tools that can help them listen to how a word or phrase is said. Technologies like audio references, such as read aloud books (that highlight the words being read), or audio dictionaries that enable students to look up words for meaning, pronunciation and usage help students get immediate feedback.

Reading Fluency: Constant reading practice is what makes readers fluent. In order to improve fluency, students need access to reading material and be able to read aloud without error or missteps. Additionally fluency is measured by correct pause and emphasis in the reading. This comes from listening to how experienced readers read long passages.

Read along digital books with the flexibility to replay text at the paragraph, sentence and word level, can help encourage self-learning amongst students who require frequent assistance. Another tool would be a digital recorder that allows a student to record their own reading practice for an adult or teacher to later listen and review.

LEARNING THROUGH FEEDBACK

While learning to read, the importance of immediate feedback is critical. Especially a teacher with a number of is unable to give enough focused attention on each and every student, technology can help support those learning moments in the following ways:

Comprehension: Embedded tools which enable a student to know and learn the meaning and usage of a word such as a dictionary, encyclopedia, thesaurus, etc., all help provide quick access at the time when the student is actively seeking information.

Usage: Exercises and activities which require the student to drag and drop words, match words with meaning, etc., can all serve to provide feedback to the student. Incorrect answers followed with correct answers and reference to reading material can all serve to reinforce learning and provide feedback to teachers on which aspects of reading require more attention.

LEARNING THROUGH GAMES

Vocabulary: A critical component to good literacy is a measure of the vocabulary a student has. This is defined by word lists. Assuming young learners have sets of word lists which they need to know to master the reading level, an excellent way to help them learn these words is through repetition. Repetition in the form of flash cards and gaming activities can help children familiarize themselves with words while competing for high scores or badges.

Word Recognition: Games like flashcards, crosswords, hangman can help a student recognize new words and reinforce meaning. When these games and interactive exercises are used in coordination with a digital reading program, they can help bring valuable attention to specific words from a grade level list.

Comprehension: Inference exercises, summaries and questions are all ways educators determine the comprehension levels of student. Interactive exercises such as fill-in-the-blanks, word maps, choosing the correct central idea in a para, etc., all serve as indicators of comprehension.

Say hello to our new website and Common Core Reading products!

Last month was National Reading Month, and to celebrate we released two more Common Core aligned, reading products for districts and educators to help students with their ELA programs!

Our NEW ‘Close Reading Portfolio’ provides a series of reading  material and interactive exercises that gives students practice in deriving central ideas and key supporting points in their reading material.

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And the NEW ‘Books & Collections’ library comprises nearly 500 English and Spanish titles, and was developed to provide supplemental, grade specific, reading material in History/Social Science and Science topics.

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In addition to the above, our popular ‘Guided Reading Program’ is still available on our redesigned website and provides over 130 engaging books and lesson plans, covering comprehension strategies, oral fluency skills, and content in history, science, and language arts.

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Free Published Books Released for National Reading Month

But that’s not all… we are also releasing 3 free books in digital format to share with your students!

Just click on the links below to download your free books:

The Golden State, by Susanne Herfurth & Sue Byers, Illustrations by J.R.Craig & Sou Saetern

Ideal for 4th grade, readers can learn about California from this informational text, which includes interesting facts and features about the state.

American Immigrants, by Tony Losongco, Illustrations by Paul Klepac

Written for 5th graders, this non-fiction compares and contrasts the experiences of new Americans during two historical periods of immigration.

Weather, by Michael Contreras, Illustrations by Rae Mendiola

6th graders will love the graphic features in this book that will help them interpret maps and other weather graphics.

Enjoy your classroom reading and don’t forget to share this post with your friends!

My Students Are Begging for More Guided Reading With Snap Learning

Guided reading has never been so engaging. For the past month my students have been enjoying improving their reading skills with Snap Learning’s guided reading program. The program is so user friendly and intuitive for both teachers and students. SnapLearning has thought of everything. As a teacher who has 5 iPads and 27 students I appreciate the little things that Snap Learning did to make it work for everyone! I most appreciate the individual student log in because it makes sharing iPads and the using the program simple! In the past my students participated in small guided reading groups with me, but they have never begged to be in the first group to go until now. My students can’t wait for their turn to be in a guided reading group because each lesson is full of engaging, relevant content that they actually enjoy reading about.

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The lessons are packed with interactive content that draw the students in and make them want to read and comprehend. The lessons contain videos and other interactive media that build up their background knowledge and get them excited about reading the passages. The vocabulary instruction is explicit and students go through each word at their own pace, moving on when they are ready, just like the rest of the lesson. Each lesson contains a section for a written response too. My students are writing details and using text evidence in these responses. Writing about what they are reading is such an important skill in the era of CCSS. They are writing with details because they are engaged and motivated to share what they are learning. Speaking of CCSS, the lessons are aligned with CCSS and the informational texts are of very high quality. Students can pick out vocabulary controlled text easily and feel insulted by it in traditional guided reading materials, but that is not a worry with SnapLearning’s guided reading program. My students not only enjoy reading with SnapLeaning’s guided reading program, but they are showing signs of reading improvement in their daily work and progress monitoring! What more could a teacher ask for? I have engaged students who are loving reading and showing improvement in their reading ability thanks to Snap Learning.

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HEIDI MORGAN is a 6th grade Reading and Language Arts teacher. She is passionate about technology integration and is always looking for new and innovative ways to create the best 21st century learning environment for her students.

Visit her blog: http://cornerofteachandtech.blogspot.com/

5 Entertaining Ways to Read Aloud this March

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Another international event, another great excuse to snuggle down with a book! Snap Learning is thrilled to partner with LitWorld and help readers around the world celebrate Read Aloud Day.

As publishers of leveled readers, we truly believe in the impact that reading aloud (and along) can have on a young reader’s literacy skills.

So in order to encourage readers both young and old to read aloud this March 5th, we’ve listed out ways in which you can have fun doing so:

  1. Sing aloud! Take your favorite poem, verse or child’s book and read to a song tune you already know. It won’t take more than a few tries to find to the right tune to fit your new words, but it can be remarkably exciting when it does!
  2. Give a speech. Find a famous speech, new or old, politician or pop-star and read it aloud for your friends, class or family. Points for dressing up.
  3. It’s the sound of love: Choose a romantic paragraph or love letter from a period book, place one hand on your heart, locate the nearest person of the opposite sex and start reading. Don’t forget to sigh and pause for dramatic emphasis and if you are really committed, pull a long soulful face, flutter your eyelashes or get down on one knee.
  4. Do the accent: Y’all ever eyeball a para or two that looks like English, but just ain’t? Mebbe that feller just got an accent, y’know? Learn the accent and then see if you can give that dialogue a whirl!
  5. Sound/Act the Word: Pick a section you are going to read and then choose a frequently occurring word or person in that passage.  For example, if you are reading about Elephants in Africa, you could choose the word ‘safari’ or ‘elephant’. Then you decide what action you will make to accompany the word. The elephants (trumpet like an elephant) walked slowly across the dusty plains. Most of the elephants (trumpeting noise) would stay together till they reached the watering hole, but Josey elephant (trumpeting noise) was different.

We hope you have a great Read Aloud Day, and to help you spread the reading fun, you can download a free copy of a published Snap Learning Fiction Book here.