What do you think about when you think of reading comprehension? The textbook? Short reading passages? They all have their place of course, but I have found my students’ engagement and excitement about learning increased ten-fold when I began to focus on deeper, richer pieces of literature. Sure, it takes a lot of time to read a novel in class, but the goal is to build comprehension and a love of learning. Are the short little passages doing that? Not in my classroom.
I love teaching using authentic literature, especially novels. Using trifolds to help guide my novel study groups ensures that I teach the students to love reading and make sure they understanding the key comprehension strategies that they need for life…and will be assessed. On many campuses there is a push to use textbooks for reading instruction, but a well-planned novel study can achieve the same end with far less boredom based on my experience.
- They save paper. While I am no longer on a paper budget, I do remember the days where I worked in a school that was. Being able to assess students’ reading comprehension across an entire novel in just a few pieces of paper per student is a HUGE plus.
- Easy to focus attention. I love being able to fold the page so my student only sees that day’s question. This is so useful for my kiddos who get easily overwhelmed…or who hate the idea of having work to do. It even works to keep my kids who struggle with attention to stay on track with their work.
- It gives me a target. Each chapter in a quality novel is so rich with things to teach. Using the trifold helps me to select and stay focused on the one key skill. This let’s me go deeper and support my students in mastering the skill rather than the buckshot method of touching on everything the chapter holds. That being said, we still have great discussions about other components of the chapter, but my lesson and assessment cover just the strategy of the day.
- It allows me to spiral. I love being able to spiral those tough skills like main idea or summary. The students familiarity with the characters and other story elements lets me really focus in on HOW to summarize or HOW to determine the main idea instead of working on processing all the lower level comprehension skills in order to get there.
One of the books I use almost every year is Because of Winn-Dixie. I love the complexity of the relationships and the importance of the time period in this story…plus it is chock full of juicy vocabulary (melancholy, anyone?) It gives me so many great discussions to have with my students. However, it also challenges them as readers. I use the trifold below to be sure that I am hitting lots of different reading skills throughout the novel. Click on the image to get a sample of my trifolds, and check out what I mean.
Or you can get the whole pack, including all the vocabulary word wall cards, here. Leave a comment and let me know what novels you love teaching or are you stuck with the basal?