Improve Reading Comprehension through Protocols

When given a reading assignment, what part(s) of the reading do students typically remember for later use in classwork? When I ask groups of teachers, they say the beginning or the end of a reading assignment. It’s never both, and the middle section is rarely included.

Structured Listening
Certain protocols can help learners develop understanding of much more of a reading by how conversation is structured. Select protocols that include practice of Listening, instead of just talking. Listening can lead to active reflection on the ideas.

Chunking Reading
Another useful element is when a protocol includes a structure for chunking the reading into digestible portions. Chunking the reading requires several rounds of the protocol to take place. A result is that learners can practice deeper dialog around important content and concepts. This can encourage more opportunities for participation in whole class discussions or using protocols that involve large groups, such as the Harkeness Discussion, aka Spider Discussion.

Noting Passages
Offer guidance to students on how to identify passages for reflection and dialog.  Note passages that supports their thinking. Such as ask students to choose passages based on this list of criteria:

√ = Check off a passage that you agree with. The ideas resonate with your own.

! = Mark a passage that is a new idea, or different way of thinking. Perhaps the idea is not new, yet it sparks a new idea in your thinking.

? = Label passages that spark a question. You want to learn more on the topic. Perhaps you do not agree or wish to challenge the statement.

Protocols List
Here is a list of protocols to start with for supporting students with comprehension. Once taught, students lead the protocols, and thus their learning. Here’s a pdf of steps to follow for each.

Find more Readiness strategies in the resource section of this site, and also in the book: So All Can Learn: A Practical Guide to Differentiation.

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