Harnessing Science of Reading Comprehension Strategies for Elementary Classrooms

How many times have you had students decode words but not understand what they mean? Comprehension is a huge part of reading. Whether you are teaching kindergarten students who are just starting their reading journey or guiding second graders towards a deeper understanding of words, the science of reading comprehension strategies has your back!  When you use the science of reading, a method that blends decoding words with comprehending them, you are increasing students' comprehension skills with ease by using fun activities that will keep students engaged! 

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The Core of Science of Reading Comprehension Strategies 

The science of reading comprehension strategies isn’t a new concept. It’s a long-standing, researched instructional practice that stresses the importance of integrating decoding and comprehension. These strategies reinforce the idea that comprehension is not just the end goal of reading but also a pivotal part of the reading process. A great way to help students understand is through the use of close readings. If you're looking for close reading passages, make sure you check out this resource for first grade. You may also want to consider students level. You can easily differentiate your reading with these passages for grades second, third, and fourth. 


Using the Science of Reading for Decoding and Comprehension 

In early education, like in kindergarten and first grade, we often focus on decoding. However, the science of reading comprehension strategies promotes a balanced approach. While decoding is essential, comprehension can’t be put on the bench! As students progress, especially by second grade, the focus can shift more towards comprehension without forgetting about decoding skills. 

Utilizing Read Alouds and Audiobooks for Comprehension 

If you’re trying to work on comprehension and leave decoding out, you can focus on the science of reading comprehension strategies while you are using read-alouds and audiobooks. Using these tools, students can help engage students in complex texts that will increase their vocabulary skills and background knowledge which are both important for comprehension. When you take out the decoding aspect, students can focus on understanding and discussing the content. This helps foster a deeper understanding of comprehension. 

Developing Verbal Language 

Verbal language is the base of reading comprehension skills. Engaging students in classroom discussion, expanding their vocabulary, and incorporating vocabulary in daily conversations are pivotal. These practices all come from the science of reading comprehension strategies. What does that mean? It means these strategies help students understand nuances of language which is another essential reading comprehension skill.


The Science of Reading Comprehension Strategies Builds Background Knowledge

Another piece of the science of reading comprehension strategies is the development of background knowledge. This means you’re integrating subjects like science and social students to give students a better understanding of the world which will help with comprehension. For example, understanding geography concepts or scientific phenomena can make related texts easier to understand for students because they can make connections. 

Explicit Comprehension Strategy Instruction 

Teaching comprehension in an explicit way is a fundamental element of the science of reading comprehension strategies. This means you’re explaining why and when to use specific strategies, demonstrating how to use them, and then guiding students through the process. You repeat this until students can do the work independently. By using explicit instruction, you are helping students develop a toolkit of strategies they can use to increase their reading comprehension. 

Incorporating Science of Reading Comprehension Strategies into Classroom Practices 

When you start incorporating the science of reading comprehension strategies into the classroom, it requires you to put thought into it so it goes nice and some. Here are some strategies that you can use to effectively integrate these comprehension strategies. 

Teaching Text Structure and Comprehension Strategies 

Understanding text structures and comprehension strategies are important. This means teaching students how to monitor their comprehension, use graphic organizers, and engage in question-answer activities. Using these practices improve understanding but also encourage students to think critically about the text. 

Question-Answer Relationship and Generating Questions 

A key aspect of the science of reading comprehension strategies is teaching students how to ask and answer questions. This includes distinguishing between information that is implicit and explicit. This encourages students to generate their own questions. This practice creates engagement with the text and increases comprehension. 


Recognizing Story Structure and Summarizing Techniques 

When students understand the structure of the story and can use plot to summarize it, it increases their comprehension skills. You can help students by teaching them ideas like characters, setting, and plot. This encourages them to summarize what they read and increase comprehension as well as increases their retention skills. 

Comprehension as the Goal 

Extending the science of reading comprehension strategies beyond the classroom will be a game changer. You can encourage parents to read to and with their children. This should include discussing books to increase comprehension. Using a home-based approach, the focus shifts from just decoding to understanding and enjoying the story. 

The science of reading comprehension strategies are a framework for increasing comprehension skills. When you use these strategies in your classroom, you can give students the tools they need to not only decode but also to understand and engage with texts in a meaningful way. When you embrace this science-based approach, you can lead a more effective and exciting learning experience for students. This means you are ultimately laying a strong foundation for their future in academics.  

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