English Comprehension Strategies
“Comprehension means that readers think not only about what they are reading, but what they are learning.”
1) Understand that ALL readers “space-out” while they are reading. Even really good readers! However, what one does after one realizes one has spaced-out is what is important. Do you pretend you didn’t space-out and go from there…even if you don’t know what is going on? Or do you stop and go back to the last part you remember? These ideas might help…
a) Find a quiet space. For you it might be in your room with your IPOD on…or it might be the kitchen table. Be honest with yourself…have you found a spot that makes it easier for you to think? If not…create one. Your high school education is TOO important to shrug this off. If you decide you want your bedroom, your desk, you family room…wherever to be your spot then make it your spot. At first you might try to get up…you might be very distracted…but FORCE yourself to sit a bit longer each day. Soon…as soon as you sit in your spot…your brain will say, “Oh, ok, time to work.”
b) “Leave tracks.” Leave tracks for whatever you are thinking about while reading. Take sticky notes and put comments on them: “This made me LOL.” “Wow, that’s so sad.” “I know someone who this happened to…that kid from….” “I think this will be important, but not sure so I’m marking it.”
c) The more you read, the more you know. Schema is the sum of your background knowledge and experience. It is what each of us brings to our reading…the more you read…the more you’ll know.
d) Go back and reread. Don’t be afraid to go back and reread. If something doesn’t make sense, go back, make it make sense…. If it still doesn’t…put a sticky with a question mark and ask about it.
The following questions will help you to write your weekly responses. Take down all of these questions in your notes and pick and chose which questions will help you to write a uniform, well thought out response. Each week you will turn in a response. Responses should be ¾-1 page in length. Well. Thought. Out. J
Heading should include your name, my name (Ms/Mrs Gaboury), Block, Name of assignment (Response #1), Date, English 9
1) Entering the story world
~ When you first saw the book, what kind of book did you think it was going to be? What made you think this? What were your feelings? How might your feelings influence your reading?
~ Tell anything that caught your attention: cover, length, layout of book, pictures, author, whatever.
~ What do you think the book will be about? What do you know about this topic/text/author/type of story? How will this influence how you read? What would you like to know about the topic? How will this influence how you read?
~ How is this book told or organized? Have you ever read other stories/books/poems like this? What sticks in your memory most vividly about these types of books? What do you want to know right away?
2) Showing Interest in the Story Action
~ Has the beginning met your expectations?
~ What is happening in your head as you read the first couple of pages?
~ What do you think the author wants you to notice? How is your attention drawn to these things? What is the text signaling you to notice?
~ What do you already know that is helping you to understand this story? What might you need to know to help you understand more of the story?
~ Are you asking yourself or the text any questions?
~ What are you imagining might happen next?
~ How do you predict this will end? What do you predict will happen?
Heading should include your name, my name (Ms/Mrs Gaboury), Block, Name of assignment (Response #2), Date, English 9.
3. Relating to characters.
~ What clues do you have to the character’s personality?
~ Do you like the character? For what reasons?
~ What do you think the character will do? What problems will s/he have?
~ What are the character’s problems? How are they solved? Are they not solved? What would you do differently?
~ What feelings are you experiencing as you read? How did you feel when something happened to the character? How would it feel to be one or more of the characters?
~ What personal experiences have you had that helps you to better understand these characters?
~ What do you feel about this character? Setting? Incident?
~ What character interests you the most? Is that the most important character? Or is the story really about someone else?
~ Which character didn’t you like? Which bored you? Did any character remind you of someone you know/or another character from another story? Has anything like this ever happened to you? Did you feel the same as the people in the story?
~ Did you ever get to know what the characters were thinking about? Did you agree with what one character thought about another?
4. Seeing the Story World.
~ What impressions are you forming in your mind of people and places in the story? What pictures do you have in your mind’s eye?
~ Are you able to see the characters and places in the text? How and when does the clarity of your pictures change? (When the author changes how s/he writes/describes? When you are tired?)
~ What kinds of details help you to see most clearly? Give specific examples and explain what that example is showing the reader.
~ Did it matter where it happened or could it have happened anywhere? What did you think of, what did the setting remind you of as you read?
~ What is the importance of the characters in relationship to one another? To important objects? (Think Charlie Brown: piano, football, blanket, dog house, etc.)
~ If you were to take a picture or make a movie of a particular scene, where would you take it? What would you be sure to include? What sort of music would you be playing? Why?
Heading should include your name, my name (Ms/Mrs Gaboury), Block, Name of assignment (Response #3), Date, English 9.
5. Elaborating on the Story World
~ What episodes or information did the author leave out? How did you fill them in?
~What if an event didn’t happen, would it change the story? The characters? What if the characters, setting or the timing was different?
~ What other adventures might these characters have? What could be an alternative ending? Sequel? What was left out that you wish was included?
~ What other books have you read that this story reminds you of? Poems, songs, TV shows, movies?
~ What will you tell your friends about this book? What will you leave out so you won’t ruin the story?
~ 6. Connecting Literature to Life.
~ What things in your life are similar to what you are reading?
~ Do any of the characters remind you of people you know? Does that help you to understand these characters?
~ How does what is happening in the story help you to understand what is going on in your life? Does it make you more aware of other things?
~ Have you learned anything important about other people? The world?
~ Has this book influenced what you believe in, what you think is right or true? Has it helped you think about how you might behave in a similar situation? Or helped you to think about how you would have done things differently in a past situation?
Heading should include your name, my name (Ms/Mrs Gaboury), Block, Name of assignment (Response #4), Date, English 9.
7. Considering Significance/ Importance
~ Tell me about parts of the story you liked most/least. What parts excited you? Bored you? If you stopped reading, what stopped you?
~ What is the connection between events that are seemingly unrelated? What is the point of a particular event or description? What did the author leave for you to explain or fill in? Why was a certain character or passage included in the story?
~ What patterns of meaning are being created by you and the author?
~ Was there anything that puzzled you? Things that you thought were strange? That took you by surprise? Did the author do these things on purpose? Why? What was the author expecting of you in these situations?
~ What idea was the author exploring through this story? What comments or generalization would the author make about that idea?
~ If you were filming the story, when would the lighting and music change? Why? When would the scene/setting change? How would you capture this in costumes, gestures, looks? What changes in feeling or tone would be captured by these changes?
8. Recognizing literary conventions.
~ What information did the author know that she withheld? Have you ever withheld information for a purpose? Why?
~ Who was telling the story? Do we know? How does this make a difference?
~ Are there parts of the story that took a long time to happen but were told quickly? Are there parts of the story that took a short time to happen but took a long time to tell? Are there events that happened once but were repeated in the telling? Events that reoccurred but were told only once? Why did the author change the actual time and order of events when s/he told it? Have you ever done such a thing when telling a story? For what purposes?
~ How do you recognize when a literary device is being used? What subtle clues are given to you to be alert? Were you surprised when it became clear that the surface story could not be taken literally? Do you think it was meant to be a surprise? For what purpose?
Heading should include your name, my name (Ms/Mrs Gaboury), Block, Name of assignment (Response #5), Date, English 9
9. Recognizing Reading as a Transaction
~ What kind of person is the author?
~ Did you find him/her to be someone you could like or not? For what reasons?
~ What values or attitudes does the author want you to affirm or question?
~ Did you agree with how the author sees the world? In what ways? How do you know this?
~ Did you notice things in the story that made a pattern? Why did the author create the patterns that she did? Why did she write the story this way?
~ How do you feel about the way the story is told? Is there anything you enjoyed or were irritated with about the way the book was written?
~ What do you feel is the most significant/important word/passage/event from the story?
~ If the author asked you what could be done to improve the story, what would you say?
10. Evaluating an Author, and the Self as a Reader
~ What kind of reader was the book written for? What kind of person do you think the author imagined in his/her mind’s eye? Are you that reader? Could you become that reader? To what degree?
~ Did you sympathize with the author’s worldview? Did any of her attitudes or opinions make the book difficult, enjoyable, reassuring, or annoying?
~ Would you like to get to know this author?
~ How did your experience as a person and a reader guide your reading?
~ Where were you as you were reading? When you read do you hear the words being said in your head? Whose voice is it you hear?
~ What was your reading rate? Did it vary? When and for what reasons?
~ How did “meaning” happen? Did you notice unusual words, images, style? Did you reread certain sections? For what purposes? With what results?
~ Would you read the story again? If so, would you read it differently?
~ Has your reading helped you to understand yourself any better?
~ If you read the story before, did it seem different this time? What did you notice this time that you didn’t notice last time? Did you enjoy it more or less?
~ What was the most important part of the story for you? Should you give the book to others? Who? Should it be read aloud or silently? What would be the best for the story? For the reader?
~ What would help you reflect better? What would distract you?
~ What will you do differently the next time you read? What are your goals for the next time you read?