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Here is a good method for teaching comprehension skills

Subject:

Language Arts  

Grades:

5, 6, 7  

Title – TEACHING OF COMPREHENSION WITH A DIFFERENCE
By – Srijaya Char
Subject – Language Arts
Grade Level – 5-7
As educators we always feel that comprehending a passage that is read is the single most important educational activity. This becomes true to life and it has to have all the skills that go with Language Arts skills:
1. Listening,
2. Speaking
3. Reading,
4. Writing,

Reading has two aspects to it:

1. Loud Reading,
2. Silent Reading.

While dealing with comprehension skills, it is the silent reading that matters. What I give below is my personal experience in the classes that I have handled and I feel euphoric when I see smiles in the faces of children while comprehension is taught this way:

PLANNING

The planning of this type of lesson involves a lot of homework for the teacher. When I decided to do this planning, I had in my mind a few things:
Students are going to read newspapers, books and journals all through their life and that was what we had to teach them to read and comprehend. During my vacation, I collected about nearly 100 passages of 300 words each approximately which was at the level of the reading of Std. VI. There should not be any words which they did not understand.

This is how it began:

STAGE 1 (DAY ONE)

Collection of passages from newspapers, journals and books. Make them into cut outs. Stick them on to chart-boards of different colors. Make an attractive border around. Read all the passages once to see that it fits the level of the VI without any difficulty.

STAGE 2 (day 2)

CLASS VII: ENGLISH COMPREHENSION (day 1)

Give instructions to students regarding comprehension and how to deal with it. The reading has to be silent. Each student will get a passage card. Each passage will be different. Some informative, some stories with values, some anecdotes etc. The rules of silent reading is put up on the board:

1. No movement of lips,
2. Move only eyeballs, not necks,
3. Read through the mind,
4. No whisper-reading,
5. No looking elsewhere,
6. If a sentence or word is not understood, don’t ask. Just think and you’ll know it by context

STAGE 3: (DAY 3)

The task starts. The students are told that they are not students but TEACHERS. They will read the passages silently and prepare a question paper for class VI. Each student is given a plain ruled sheet on which they will make the question paper.
Each student will write his/her name at the back of the chart-board so that this activity can go on rotation.

STAGE 4: (DAY 4)

The teacher takes only 15 minutes for all these instructions. Students are given the following instructions on the board:

PREPARING THE QUESITON PAPER

1 Frame 5 questions which can be answered in one sentence.
2.Frame 5 questions which can be answered in two sentences or three sentences.
3. Frame 5 Fill in the blanks.
4. Pick out 5 phrases for making sentences.
5. Ask them to pick out 5 adjectives from the passage.

TOTAL MARKS WILL BE FOR 25.

The evaluation will be done by the same class the next day after the VI standards have completed the answers to the questions.

STAGE 5: ENGLISH COMPREHENSION CLASS VI (DAY 5)

The class is given instructions regarding silent reading of whatever passage they get. The same rules for silent reading are written on the board. Plain ruled sheets are first distributed to all the students. They are then given the chart-board passages to read silently along with the stapled question paper that the VII standards have prepared.

STAGE 6 (DAY 6)
Instructions take 15 minutes. The task starts. Nobody is allowed to ask any questions. When the work is completed the teacher collects all the materials along with the answer sheets of the VI students.

STAGE 7:EVALUATION BY STANDARD VII.(DAY 7)

All the materials, the passage chart, the question papers and the answer papers of the VI are collected and distributed to the VII standard students. As they have already written their names at the back of the chart-board each student gets the same passage that they made the question paper for.

STAGE 8 (DAY 8)
At this stage the students may require a few instructions which is given only when there is a doubt by particular students who put up their hands and the teacher goes to the desk near the child to clarify the marking system.

STAGE 9: (DAY 9)
All papers are corrected and the task is complete. The teacher collects all the materials from the students and tells them that they will be distributed to the VI standard students for judging themselves.

STAGE 10: (day 10)
STANDARD VI
The students are given their respective answer papers along with the question papers and the chart-board passages. They see their marks.
STAGE 11: (DAY 11)
The task of the teacher is complete. The passages are collected back, not the question papers or the answer papers. The chart boards are thus rotated several times to several students at several classes.

The only doubt that arises here is that teacher colleagues have asked me this question as how I would be sure that the question papers have been set correctly and how the answer papers have been marked in a right way. Yes. It is a Herculean task on the part of the teacher to read each passage which is different from the other and read all the question paper set by the children and also scrutinize each answer paper written by the children. This has been accomplished by me at random. When students are allotted responsible tasks they do good work. It is possible to do random checking of both the question papers and answer papers. I have done it personally and I can vouch for the fact that children are very responsible when tasks are allotted to them which they love doing. When a student is called a teacher and a teacher’s work is allotted to her, she becomes very responsible. When you tell the VI standard students that your question paper is set by your senior and your senior will correct your paper, they become more careful as they need this kind of peer evaluation. They enjoy it.

Personally I have felt that traditional methods of teaching and learning ignore learning styles for many students. By giving them responsibility the teacher strengthens the learning style.
It is necessary that assessment should actively involve children. Feedback from peers, allow children to make choices and demonstrate their strengths and successes and encourage them to build on what they already know.
There are certain elements which are very important in making comprehension lessons interesting:
1. Teachers have to use a variety of tasks and products.
2. Assessments must be done by students to students.
3. Students must also be able to assess themselves
4. Students should not be coached every step of the way

This is a comprehension Lesson Plan that I have successfully used in my classes for the past so many years and students enjoy it thorougly.

Thank you.

Srijaya Char.

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