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Monday, August 1

How to Improve Reading Comprehension with Readers Response Journals Right Now

how-to-improve-reading-comprehension


How to Improve Reading Comprehension with Reader's Response Journals Right Now: What is Reading Comprehension?


Before we can answer the question of how to improve reading comprehension: let’s first discuss what reading comprehension is. Reading comprehension is the ability of the reader to understand and interpret the text that they are reading. In order to comprehend a text, our students must be having intentional interactions with the text. Simply put, in order for our students to understand (comprehend) what they are reading we must make sure they are reading a level-appropriate text and taking their time to read with purpose and meaning.


how-to-improve-reading-comprehension



How to Improve Reading Comprehension with Reader's Response Journals Right Now: Use Reader's Response Journals


Now that we have established that intentional interactions with stories are crucial for answering our question, of how to improve reading comprehension, we have a new question to answer. How can we teach our students to read with purpose and intention? The answer is actually simpler than you might think, reader's response journals. Reader's response journals and notebooks are a place where students will reflect and respond to what they are reading in their text. This can happen in the form of prompted questions about character traits or graphic organizers about the story plot. There are many ways to set up and create reader's response notebooks (you can read my top tips for creating reader's response entries by CLICKING HERE NOW). Whether you use prompts or graphic organizers, the result is the same, reader's response journals cause our students to pause and think about their reading. When we ask our learners to stop and reflect on what they have been reading, it gives their minds a moment to digest the text and aids their understanding and reading comprehension. 


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Another reason that I love using reader's response journals to boost reading comprehension is to deepen character understanding. When we ask students to write and respond to questions about the characters in their texts, we promote deep thinking and pondering about our characters. Why do they do what they do? Why do they dress the way that they dress or behave the way that they do? When students have to write a reading response entry on a character in their story, they have to get to know them better to clearly develop, write, and share their thoughts about the character. This leads to increased student reading comprehension!


The final answer to our question, how to improve reading comprehension with reading response journals is increased memory. One reason that many students struggle with reading comprehension is that they are unable to remember events and important tidbits that previously happened in their text. If you don’t remember where you were, how can you understand where you are now? Let's look at an example. My text briefly discussed the childhood importance of my character's locket necklace and the events that unfolded around her receiving that necklace. If I did not pause to mentally log the importance of this as I was reading, how can I develop a deep understanding of my character's changes and transformations throughout the storyline? 


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We can all agree that pausing and reading with purpose is crucial for increasing student reading comprehension, but how can we be sure our students are slowing down to remember important events from their text? With reader's response journals. The key here is having our students write about their reading. The act of physically writing something down increases the sensory information that is sent to the brain. This increased sensory information gives our hippocampus an increased likelihood of storing the information for a longer period of time. Technical talk aside friends, if we want to increase our students' reading comprehension skills, we have got to get them to write about their reading in a reading response notebook. 


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Are you ready to start using reader’s response journals with your students? CLICK HERE to explore my favorite reader’s response journals now!


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