Monthly Comprehension Packs



Without comprehension, students are just decoding words with no meaning attached to them. Without comprehension, students are unable to increase their reading levels. Without comprehension, students are continuously feeling frustrated with texts.

Teaching decoding skills can be pretty straight forward; letter sounds, blending, digraphs, word families, etc. When a student struggles with decoding we can usually pinpoint the exact problem and then provide interventions to mend that gap. It's not so simple when it comes to comprehension. I tend to find myself asking the same questions, and not having ways to get precise answers:

  • Is it a processing issue that we need to look closer at?
  • Is the student paying attention to what they are reading?
  • Do they lack vocabulary which makes it difficult to understand what they are reading?
  • Do they in fact understand but struggle to verbalize it?
And the list goes on and on....

So that is why one year I decided to tackle comprehension work head on. I was going to make comprehension a part of our weekly lesson plans. We would approach it from all angles; whole group, independent work, verbally during read alouds, in guided reading, and during homework. As each month passed I would make a new pack for us to use, and boy oh boy did I see a HUGE difference in my students reading and comprehension abilities.

So after many, many, many hours, I have finally finished putting all of that material into monthly comprehension packs ready to be used in your classroom! I'm going to break down each component of my comprehension packs and detail exactly how I put it to good use in my room each and every week.

If you are interested in purchasing any of the comprehension packs you can click HERE to see all ten units...but I do suggest purchasing the bundle because not only do you get ALL 10 units, you get 20% off when you buy the bundle! Check it out HERE.




Comprehension Pack Breakdown 


Story Element Vocabulary Work:




Before diving right in, it's important to make sure your kiddies understand key vocabulary words linked to comprehension. I do not suggest trying to teach them all at once, but rather introducing them slowly, and continuously spiraling in older words to keep them fresh. I tend to start with the basics like character and setting, and as the lessons progress begin introducing more complex terms like text-to-text connections.


As I introduce each new vocabulary word, I display the poster in the room. Through the use of modeling I teach my kiddies how to refer to the poster to help them during reading and writing time. I also embed that language into my conversations with them as much as possible. I'm big on "thinking out loud" while I am reading to them. I feel it really models and trains them how they should be thinking while they are reading. For example, while reading The Gingerbread Man to my class I might pause at certain points and say things like....

-"Wow, there sure are a lot of different characters in this book, but I'd say the main character is definitely the Gingerbread Man, because it is who the story is mostly about."

-"I can make a text-to-self connection, because I like to bake cookies too."

-"As a good reader I'm thinking, I wonder how he is going to solve this problem?"
The posters serve as a good reference and daily reminder of all of this!

                                                        The vocabulary included is:

Character
Setting
Problem
Solution
Main Idea
Fiction
Non-Fiction
Text-Text Connection
Text-Self Connection
Text-World Connection

Story Element Puzzles

Once your kiddies have mastered enough vocabulary, make it fun! Let them work with the story element puzzles to reinforce their new knowledge of these vocabulary words.


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Story Element Pop Sticks

Another great way to get the kids excited about story elements is to use the story element pop sticks. Keep them in a cup and whenever the time is right, have students pick a pop stick and then answer the corresponding question. These can be used during whole group read alouds, guided reading groups, or even on an individual basis. The kids love it!



Parent Information & Take Home Portion

I found first hand that my students had to be emerged in comprehension at all times....like all times! Every opportunity I had to get them to think about something they heard or read, I would jump on. I also knew that it was extremely important for their parents to understand the importance of building comprehension skills and providing them with at home support to implement it.


Each pack includes send home letters that help outline the importance of reading comprehension and provide guidance for how to implement it at home.

There is also a Reading Comprehension at Home sheet that I like to print on card stock and place in my students take home book baggies. I encourage the parents to leave this paper in the book baggie all year and refer to it while reading at home. The sheet provides example questions to ask before reading, during reading and after reading.

Don't hesitate to send these home more than once per year. A great time to re-introduce these again would be during parent-teacher conferences. This will allow you to really help those parents who are feeling frustrated with the reading process, and provide some more support to them.



Classwork

I dedicate and isolate time each week to comprehension work. During this time I model and teach necessary strategies to the kiddies. By using the classwork worksheets, I am able to see specific areas of need as a whole, and the individual students who are struggling. From September to January we spend one period per week working on these classwork worksheets.

I am lucky enough to have an Elmo Projector in my room. It's essentially a video camera that live streams onto my Smart Board. So I place the classwork worksheets under it and together as a class we work on it. I read the passage twice to them, and then we discuss it. Each classwork worksheet includes a reading passage and a variety of multiple choice questions, plus a short response question (it requires a one sentence response and allows the children to illustrate if they are non-writers). As a group we focus on thinking about what we read and thinking about what makes sense. My readers are taught to go back and refer to the text, but that is a challenging task for most. The best strategy is to teach them to eliminate the "nonsense answer." Which answer makes absolutely no sense? Though the process of elimination they can determine the correct response.



From January-June we alternate between doing comprehension as a whole and taking an assessment. For example:
Week 1: Whole group comprehension
Week 2: Comprehension assessment
Week 3: Whole group comprehension
Week 4: Comprehension assessment

There is a fiction and non-fiction assessment in each January-June pack. I use the results of the assessment to determine areas of weakness as a whole and individually. I then use that data to drive instruction for the following weeks whole group comprehension lesson, intervention groups, guided reading groups, and more. 

Homework 

Each pack also includes fiction and non-fiction comprehension homework for the month. I create weekly homework packets, so I have included enough homework to provide one comprehension passage with questions and a writing prompt, per week.

The homework sheets have a reading passage, followed by three multiple choice questions. There is also an opportunity for students to find their sight words within the passage.  Additionally, there are three differentiated writing passages to coincide with each comprehension sheet.



Option 1: Traceable sentence starter to help steer students in the right direction. There is a large box for an illustration and enough space for 1 sentence.
Option 2: No sentence starter. There is a large box for an illustration and enough space for 1 sentence.
Option 3: No sentence starter. There is a smaller box for an illustration and multiple lines for 2 or more sentences.

You can choose to use the same sheet across the board depending on where your class is as a whole with the writing process OR you can modify each homework assignment to meet the specific needs of your class.

You also get your choice of 2 reading logs.




One allows you to track from Monday-Thursday (great for if you collect it on Fridays) and the other allows you to track from Monday-Friday.


Assessments

As mentioned above, each January-June comprehension pack includes 2 assessments (one fiction and one non-fiction). The assessments have approximately 14 multiple choice questions and one written response. The assessments are a great tool to help drive further instruction in all ELA areas. It is also a great way for parents to see how their child is doing, and possibly shed some light on why their reading level may not be increasing. I have found that parents have an easier time understanding why their child's reading level has not increased if it is due to decoding issues. Parents can hear these at home while reading with them. However, whenever I tell parents that it is a comprehension issue; I always get "I don't understand, they can read it at home." By sending home bi-weekly comprehension assessments, parents are in the loop and have a better understanding of what comprehension is, and whether or not their child is grasping it or struggling with it.

Awards and Certificates 


So after you do ALL OF THIS, kiddies are sure to make improvements in their reading and comprehension abilities. After working so so hard they definitely deserve recognition. Each pack includes 3 types of awards.

1) Increase in reading level certificate: Whenever a child increases their reading level, fill one out and send it on home. The kids are so excited to have these and it helps keep parents in the loop as well.

2) 100% on comprehension assessment: Print a ton of these and cut them out ahead of time. Staple one to each kiddies test if they received a perfect score!

3) Improvement on comprehension assessment: Let's face it, some kids, no matter how hard they try, will never score 100% on the assessment. That does not mean they don't deserve recognition. If a student has made significant improvement on the test, staple one of these to it....show them you are still proud of them!




Comprehension is not easy, but with hard work and dedication (from both the teacher and the students), you can make a ton of growth!

My goal was to provide other teachers with everything they would need to implement a consistent comprehension routine into their classrooms. I truly hope you see as much success with these products as I have.

Keep in mind, the reading passages and questions increase in difficulty as the months go on. These packs work for both Kindergarten and First Grade...I've used them in both successfully!

You can purchase individual packs below:

MONTHLY COMPREHENSION PACKS


Or save 20% and grab the bundle, which includes all ten packs below:

BUNDLE




-Michelle Vasilescu AKA Mrs V

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