I read it, but I don't understand it: 4 reading strategies that work

reading strategiesIf you’re looking to equip your struggling upper-elementary and middle school readers with a set of reading strategies that will teach them to monitor and take charge of their own understanding, look no further. Janette Klingner, Sharon Vaughn, Alison Boardman and Elizabeth Swanson’s Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR) approach has got you covered. We do wish to emphasize that CSR is not “curriculum in a box.” It’s a flexible set of reading strategies that will give you and your students the freedom to improvise in a structured way. We’re going to talk about a specific reading strategy the authors call “Click and Clunk.”

I read it, but I don't get it: 4 reading strategies that work

Step 1: Preview the text
Before you ask your students to preview a text, you might use an analogy.

Ask them about the last time they went to the theatre and what motivated them to go. Chances are that they saw a preview, which helped them ascertain who starred in the film, in what historical period it took place, what genre it might be placed in, and ultimately, whether or not it would be wise to drop $10 (plus another $5 for Junior Mints) on the experience. Now apply this to previewing a text:

Have your students look at a particular passage in a text and give them two or three minutes to preview it. Have them take note of the title, subtitle and look for bolded or italicized keywords. As they complete these simple preliminary steps, they should also:

  • Take note of headings, pictures, bolded words
  • Reflect on what they already know about the subject
  • Predict what they will learn from it

Step 2: Read the passage aloud
This is pretty straight forward. The only note we have on this is that your students should have a pencil handy. If you don’t want them to mark on the pages of the text, they’ll need a notebook, too.

Step 3:  Figure out what “clicked” and what “clunked”
Click and Clunk is a way to help develop your students’ metacognitive skills. It is, in other words, a way to get them thinking about what they are thinking as they approach a text.

  • Clicks refer to sections of the text that “click,” that make sense to the reader, and allow her to proceed through the text without hiccups.

    Clunks
    refer to portions of a text (words or concepts) that confuse the reader and cause breakdowns in his or her comprehension.

Step 4: Put fix-up strategies into play
Once your students have read the passage and identified the sections that “clunked,” they should:

  • Reread the sentence that clunked
  • Search for context clues in the sentences before and after the sentence that clunked
  • If students are bi-lingual, have them look for cognates
  • Study the word parts. Do you recognize a prefix, suffix or root word?

Your students will acclimate to this system quickly; once they do, feel free to assign a strong reader to be the Leader of each reading group. S/he will be the “Clunk Expert,” someone responsible for making sure that each group member jots down any clunks s/he came across in the passage. The “Clunk Expert” is also responsible for facilitating the fix up reading strategies we listed above. 

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

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