Group reading activity enhances comprehension

iStock_000016678101XSmallAn innovative teaching activity described by Joseph Simplicio in a recent issue of Reading  Improvement, is reported to help teachers diagnose reading comprehension and writing skills and provide important and enjoyable practice for students. “Snapshot linkage” engages students in smallgroup work that focuses on understanding and writing in a nonthreatening environment.

An article or section of a text is broken into parts, and each small group of students is assigned a portion to read and summarize. After students read their section individually (with teachers working one-on-one with students having difficulty), they work in small groups with students of similar ability. Each group is asked to summarize what they have read on a summary sheet. The goal is to have each group develop a clear and concise summary that can be linked to the other groups’ work and understood by all. A student from each group is asked to put their summary on the board (in primary grades the teacher may do the writing). Each summary is enclosed in a box with the group’s number. The class then is presented with this puzzle of sequencing the parts. The teacher discusses each piece with the whole class, finding the links to put the ideas in correct sequence. The teacher guides the class by discussing specific ideas and helping them identify general themes.

Simplicio reports that experience with this activity has revealed several advantages. Students enjoy working in small groups and having a chance to get out of their seats. Individual students have less individual responsibility and all have the opportunity to be successful. Assigning students only a portion of the article to read makes a long and sometimes frustrating task more enjoyable. Students are intrigued by the intellectual puzzle of trying to put the different summaries in order to make a comprehensible whole. Simplicio states that this activity also provides the teacher with a diagnostic tool for evaluating students’ reading comprehension and writing skills.

“Effectively Utilizing Group Reading Strategies to Enhance Comprehension”, Reading Improvement, Volume 40, Number 3, Fall 2003, pp. 110-112.

Published in ERN November 2003 Volume 16 Number 8

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