Choosing Literature Part 3: Getting To Understanding

We’ve looked at why we choose literature, we’ve even looked at how to go about and get books. We had a great time sharing last week books we’ve used in the past with students. This week we’re looking at materials we are going to use to help check in with students while they read this book.

Whether with a small group, large class, or individuals, the aspect of ELA that cannot be ignored is the comprehension. Even with students who are still decoding, there is a need for reading comprehension. What good does reading do without understanding what’s being read?

So there are many ways to reach students. Many teachers use a combination of written responses long and short to reach most students. This isn’t always feasible with students. But this is when we will tap into a general education teacher’s resources to help make the extensions of understanding what students are understanding about the book much easier.

What about the books themselves? Some students can open a regular text and follow along, or pretend to follow, as the case may be, but what about text that really reaches to them?

For this we suggest or The Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities. The books they have help reach students who may need more simplified text than what is usually provided. This is not an “instead” as much as a partner material.

But what about students who are not even able to comprehend as well as their peers? What can we do when the materials that may be provided aren’t really going to reach that student? Or show the student’s interest in the material?

  1. Check the student’s IEP goals. Some students have specific needs that the IEP team are looking for especially when it comes to ELA. Some are trying to find adjectives for characters, some are learning to find big milestones in the story or state five things about every character.
  2. If a student does not have a specific IEP goal to comprehension and they are reading a book higher than they’ve read before, start by writing specific questions for the student to answer that follow 5W, H questions. (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How). Try to limit the questions to 5 questions a chapter. Aim for answers a student can find in a text before trying anything harder. The questions need to be very direct: Who is in the chapter? What items are important to this character? What is the character’s family like? Who does the character not like? Who does the character like?
  3. Look at the range of activities that come in some guides for reading manuals. There are activities that may fit many students.
  4. Never underestimate the importance of visualization. Have students draw characters with things that are important to them in the story. Build a small shoe box (sometimes called a story box) with things that may have importance in the story. Work with student to talk about the items in the box and connect it to the story. Even better, get a group of peers to help talk to the student about the items in the box.

This series has been quite fun. We hope you’ve enjoyed our suggestions. We’ve had great feedback for this series and hope to bring other subjects to future blog posts soon.

Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.  

About paraeducate

ParaEducate is a company run to help reach out to paraeducators or paraprofessionals in public K-12 schools, giving advice, talking about publications that ParaEducate produces, and other useful information regarding working in public school settings.
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