Teaching Strategies for Reading Comprehension

Mary Bethune, a leading Black educator born in 1875 and founder of Bethune-Cookman Univeristy, said that the whole world opened to her when she learned to read. Today I want to share two strategies for teaching reading comprehension to open whole worlds for students: schema and metacognition. Schema is having a prior connection to a passage that will generate a foundation upon which to build new facts and concepts. I like to begin lessons by examining the title or introduction to the book or passage to establish prior knowledge of the content. Schema encourages metacognition which is thinking about what you are thinking while reading. To encourage metacognition, I like to incorporate summarizing sections of the passage. If students are studying a textbook, I want them to summarize each bold section. I teach my students to ask who, what, when, where and why questions about each section. In the beginning, we write out a summary answering the questions. We gradually transition to answering those questions in our mind. These summarizations are another step toward metacognition that enables understanding. When we teach students strategies such as using schema-having prior knowledge, and metacognition-thinking about thinking, it helps to develop critical thinking skills for better understanding.

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