If you aren’t new around here, you know about my love for teaching comprehension. I have TONS of comprehension units in my TPT store, from science to life skills, monthly to animals. But I still felt that students needed the whole picture to learn comprehension skills like their same age peers.
When teaching comprehension, there is more to focus on than just reading. I love using picture symbols to we can focus on JUST COMPREHENSION separate from reading. If you don’t do this- then you aren’t sure if it is listening skills, comprehension skills, or reading skills that a student is having difficulty with.
In order to comprehend a story- students must be familiar with the vocabulary. Typical students pick up vocabulary easy through the natural environment, and are able to attach meaning quickly. Our students often need to be directly taught these words- before they even read the story.
Vocabulary can be taught in many forms. Matching a picture to word is a very beginning level of comprehension that many of our students start at. Then I move my students up to simple definitions matched with pictures, and finally just a definition fading out the picture.
When I start with whole group teaching, I use the picture and word set. Then we break off and work on the vocabulary at each students level. We use the clip cards to to review these daily and then the quizzes at each students level at the end of the week.
Once vocabulary is introduced, we move to the story. We read the story each day to get in lots of practice. There are 3 levels of each story to meet all students need. Level 3 has no picture supports, Level 2 has a support for each vocabulary word and is a bit shorter, and level 1 is simplified even further with a support at the end of each sentence.
I love to introduce the level 3 story in whole group, then pull level 2 out and review the vocabulary as we read. When we break into groups or individual, each student can work at their own level. I like to set up each students binder at the beginning of the week with all of their leveled materials ready to go. This cuts down on prep time daily, and gets everyone working right away.
Day 3 we focus on sequencing the story. At this point we have a good grasp on the vocabulary, we review the story again, and use the sequencing worksheets. based on the level of your class there is a couple of ways to do this. You can have them cut and paste the worksheets- or you can prep them by laminating, velcroing and attaching to a paint stick for continuous review (and you can save them for next year or reuse in a task box!)
Day 4 is a review day. We may do a comprehension or vocabulary quiz worksheet that is a little too easy for us to practice for the quiz on Friday, read the stories to a friend, review our sequencing, or use our clip cards. We like to do this in centers on this day. ((read more about organizing centers in special education here))
On Friday, we assess. (but really us teachers have been assessing all week). Using quizzes is a great way to align your class with same age peers! The quizzes are all leveled so that the student is tested at their level. They are great for review and students actually enjoy “test time!”
Higher level students are able to write their answers too! This is a great goal to aim for once the actual comprehension routine is learned. Taking the pressure off allows the student to start integrating more skills- like writing.
At the end of the week, we get ready for next weeks story, send home completed work and get binders set up for the next story. The routine of the units is seamless and students quickly know what to expect, and are therefore more engaged in learning and increasing independence and accuracy through the assessments. These materials are great to use for state testing goals!
You can grab Decembers Simple Comprehension Unit, here.