Monday, 3 August 2015

Colourful Comprehension Strategy

Hey guys how are you?
So… I just love teaching reading- I love getting to unlock the world for my littlies don't you? 
It's such a privilege!

Guided Reading and Phonics are my jam but I hate watching my little darlings struggle away when it comes to doing a comprehension test.

My children are great at having a discussion about a text- pulling out how the character feels, reading between the lines and making predictions but doing this in a test all on their lonesome…not so great! Anyone else?

I got to thinking about an approach I could use to help bridge the gap from discussion to test and came up with 'Colourful Comprehension'. We love highlighters in our school and by attaching a colour to a key language element it provided a clear mnemonic for the children to use. 

My children are 6 & 7 but I am confident that this is a strategy which will be useful for much older children too! 

The strategy is taught during small group/ guided reading sessions but is easily applied when the children are flying solo.
The first in the series applies the strategy to texts where children have to determine the author's opinion such as in a review or report. 

Step 1
Using examples of report text, discuss the language features most commonly associated with them and make a note. This could take a whole session.

Step 2
Introduce the colours- 
Discuss from the previous step the kinds of language they might consider positive, negative or a modal connective.

Step 3
Share the language charts with the children. You could do Step 2 and 3 in one session or you may prefer to split them up. You could even go so far as splitting each language type up into 3 separate sessions- it is totally flexible so you can go with what your children need. 

Step 4
The next step is to find each type of word or phrase within a report/ opinion text and highlight them in the correct colour. Demonstrate to the children how to scan for those modal connectives so that straight away they are aware if the author has a change of opinion or offers more than one. Once this is done  then you can demonstrate how to tally up the number of positive and negative words which will then provide an indication of the author's voice in the text. 
Included in the pack is a fully modelled colour sheet, a black and white completed sheet, a black and white sheet ready to be completed and a black and white sheet ready to add your own text to.
Step 5
Once all of the highlighting and tallying is done then it is time to write the summary. I do this orally first and then give the children a small, square post-it note so that they have to keep the summary succinct and include only the key points. I guide my children to mention the points raised by the modal connective as this will show that they have understood if there is a mixed or alternative opinion within the text. 
Space is provided on the format to then write the summary but this is an optional step and is not integral to the strategy but is good practise. 

After using this strategy several times or until you feel the children are comfortable with it, give them an opinion text in it's 'real' layout, provide highlighters and let the children apply the strategy to the text. On the first go at a 'real' text my children were fantastic but some did ask 'Is it ok to tally?' because space wasn't explicitly provided for it and this is where a practise on a real text or 2 during a guided session is invaluable before a test situation occurs. 

The pack contains black and white versions of every sheet so that you can choose your own highlighter colours and also be ink-friendly! 

If you think this would be useful in your classroom then please click here to head to my TpT store.
Spellings are American-English within this pack but a UK English version will be available too.

Coming soon…Colourful Comprehension: Fact or Opinion? 

Thanks for stopping by- feel free to leave me a question in the comments...

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