Last updated 11/30/00
Reading Comprehension Jobs
By: Amy Spurlock

Rationale:  When children learn how to read silently it is important for them to practice.  Not only is it important for them to practice reading silently but it is also important for the children to comprehend what they are reading.  This lesson will show children different strategies of how to understand what they are reading.  It will also show them how to work together and discuss in groups what they have read and if they have comprehended it.

Materials:  Red, Green, and Yellow index cards that have the different group jobs written or them (word wizard, discussion director, and summarizer), chalk, chalkboard, a passage from a book such as Mrs. Toggle’s Beautiful Blue Shoe by: Robin Pulver, an age appropriate novel such as Romona Forever by: Beverly Clearly (enough copies for the entire class.)

1. The teacher will review the children on silent reading by talking about it with them.  “Boys and girls, does everyone remember how to read silently?”  “Who can tell me why it is so important to read silently?”  “That’s right, you can slow down or speed up as you like.”  “You can even look up words in the dictionary if you do not understand them.”  “Today we are going to get into groups and learn how we can understand what we read when we read silently.”
2. Have a paragraph or passage from a book that the children have read before written on the board such as Mrs. Toggle’s Beautiful Blue Shoe by Robin Pulver. “Mrs. Stickler!  Said Mrs. Toggle.  “I don’t want to hurt you feelings, but you are being ridiculous.  My shoe can’t smell, and I have never known it to be hungry.”  “There’s a first time for everything,” said Mr. Stickler.  “Why don’t you go to the cafeteria?  Ask Mrs. Burns to cook up something special for your shoe.” So Mrs. Toggle and the children trooped into the cafeteria.  They found the cook, Mrs. Burns, chopping onions for stew.”  “Boys and girls I want each of you to read this passage silently when you are done I want you to raise your hand so I will know when everyone is finished.”  When each child is finished reading read it aloud to make sure that everyone read it correctly.  There will be groups of six and each child in the group will have a partner.  Each pair will get a different color index card that has a job on it.  They will work on the job together.  After everyone has read the passage on the board the teacher will need to model each job.  “Boys and girls I am going to give you and your partner in your group a different color card.”  “If you get a red card your job will be the summarizer job.”  “When you summarize a book or passage you tell what happened in the book or passage but you do not tell every single detail.”  “For example if I was the summarizer for the passage on the board I would say that Mrs. Toggle thought that Mr. Stickler was acting crazy because he thought that her shoe could smell or be hungry.”  “He even told her to go to the cafeteria and ask Mrs. Burns to cook something for Mrs. Toggle’s shoe.”  “As you can see boys and girls I summarized this passage because I told what happened in the passage with out rereading every single word to you.”  The teacher will then need to model the other two jobs, which are the word wizard and the discussion director.  If the children get a yellow card they are the word wizards and their job is to pick at least three words that they find unique, funny or even difficult.  It is any word that sticks out to them.  As they find them they have to write the word down and what page it is on. When it is their turn in the group they will discuss these words with the group and tell why they stuck out to them.  The next job is the discussion director, which is the green card.  If the children get this job they are the leaders of the group.  They choose which job goes first and when every job is finished they read out three or four questions about the book to ask the entire group to answer to make sure that they are comprehending what they are reading.  When the children are done they can swap cards so that each child gets a chance to have each job.  As the children do this the teacher walks around and can also ask questions with the discussion director.
3. When the teacher is done modeling the group jobs by using the passage on the board he/she needs to put the children into groups of six and give them partners within the group.  The teacher will pass out the different color cards with the job and the job description on them.  Have the students read a chapter or half a chapter (depending on the amount of time there is) of a novel such as, Romona Forever by: Beverly Cleary, silently and individually.  When they are done reading it silently they can then work together with their partner on the job they were assigned to.  When they are done discussing each job, they can swap cards if time permits.  If time does not permit, they can get into the same groups again the next day and do different jobs on the same book.  They can repeat this each day until they are finished reading the novel.
4. For Assessment, you can allow each child to read one chapter of the book alone, and when they are done reading it they can write down each job and what each job does.  This way you will know if the child understands what he/she is supposed to be doing with each job.  When they are done writing down each job, have the child do all three jobs as individuals instead of together.  When they are done have each child come up to your desk at different times of the day and read what they wrote down for each job.  By doing this you will be assessing if the child is comprehending what they are reading and also if they comprehend what they are supposed to be doing with each job.

Reference:  Cindy Miller, Troy Elementary School, Troy, Al. 4th grade, 1999
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