Last year, I spent a lot of my time with “advanced” readers. These are readers who can read lickity split and don't need any more instruction on reading fluency. These are the students who so often get left behind because to the “naked eye,” they look perfectly fine academically. They can give you the gist of what they read, but sometimes they have working memory issues and can't recall specific details. Maybe they are the student that can get through an entire page of text but can't tell you what they read. Or perhaps they are the student who performs well in class because they have learned excellent compensatory skills, like always going back and rereading to find answers in texts…but when you try to chat with them about a page in a book, they struggle.
Read on to see how I used task cards in the classroom to put together some advanced reading comprehension groups!
Even with my advanced readers, who were performing well in most aspects, I still had a few who needed extra help with their comprehension skills. I put together a plan to attack some of these areas of need and increase their reading comprehension. This could be used with struggling students, but this specific sequence is for kids who were on grade level, but still needed some extra work on comprehension. I was happy with the results, and the students in the group enjoyed working through it with me.
When I realized I had this group of kids struggling, I knew that I needed to do something. As a former academic interventionist, this was a little bit of a different need for me to address. These kids had their basic comprehension skills down, but now they needed some help to move beyond that. I thought about the skills they needed to work on, then came up with a plan.
Here's a look at the basic outline of what I came up with. We started out looking at Literal Vs. Inferential questions. This is so crucial, as all students need to be able to tell the difference between the two. They need to know whether they need to infer to find the answer or if the answer should be jumping right out at them in the text.
|We used red to underline inferential questions and green to underline literal questions. I let the students use mechanical pencils (a HUGE treat in my classroom) during my small groups, including interventions.|
|Speaking of mechanical pencils, how much fun are these for some student motivation? They have interchangeable erasers and caps. Perfect for students who are motivated by office supplies and color. 🙂|
After we worked with literal and inferential questions, we moved on to focusing only on inference. I used my story elements inference task cards so that we could hit two birds with one stone–story elements like characters, settings, problems, and solutions while still working on inference.
Before I go on, I need to mention the awesomeness of these highlighters. Do you see that highlighter in the picture? That is no typical highlighter. That, my friends, is a Sharpie Clear View Highlighter. You can see right through the tip of the highlighter so that you can tell where to stop your highlighting. This is BRILLIANT for use with students, who are notorious for over highlighting.
Do you see that? The tip is almost fully transparent! How incredibly cool is that? I got these snazzy highlighters from Office Depot.
Over the weeks, we worked our way through the task cards in a variety of ways. Here are some ways I used the cards with my students in the intervention group:
- I read the card aloud to the students while they closed their eyes and listened. Then, I asked them questions about what I had read, using the prompts on the cards. This helped with their listening and memory skills. They didn't have to worry about reading the cards, they only had to worry about comprehending what they were hearing.
- This was very powerful for several of my students… Either I read the card or the kids read the card out loud. They used a mini dry erase board to take VERY brief notes about what the story was about. I taught them to pick out key details in the story that could help trigger their memory. I explained that they wouldn't always have the dry erase board but that we needed to train their brain to latch on to those key details so that they didn't forget what they were reading. We did the same thing with visualizing and my free visualizing task cards.
- I had some kids who were having a really hard time remembering specific details about what they were reading. I gave them a sheet of task cards (4 to a sheet) and had them read all the cards to themselves at least once. Then, they read the cards out loud one at a time, and I would ask detail-oriented questions after each card was read. They could reference the cards answering the questions. This took about 20 minutes to get through all 4 cards on a page. Then, with the last few minutes, I would take the paper away from the students and ask them more questions about what they had read. This worked SO well, and it was SO simple.
- You can see in the picture above that I had students highlight evidence for their answers to the questions directly on the task cards. Then, they wrote the answers on a blank piece of paper.
They love to this because what kid doesn't love highlighting things.
I get a a lot of questions about task cards and why I use them. This intervention group was a perfect example of the beauty of task cards. Reading task cards include short and sweet, totally non-threatening passages. It's not an entire page of text–it's either half a page or a quarter of a page, and most often, it's visually pleasing. My kids just aren't intimidated by task cards in the same way they are intimidated by page-long passages.