Reading is not merely the practice of saying whatever is written aloud. A student might have excellent reading skills with no noticeable fumbles or grammatical mistakes but deep down, if he/she is not comprehending the meaning of the text, the act of reading is not complete. Several studies have shown that most preschool and primary students can exhibit excellent reading skills if their language training has been right but only a few of them comprehend what is written. This problem remains undiagnosed as teachers assume that excellent readers comprehend excellently as well until middle or secondary school brings out the reading flaws in such students.
The top 5 schools in Sonepat, thus, focus heavily on reading comprehension from the early stages. They enable students to read for deeper comprehension and understand not only the meaning of the lines but comprehend the theme, plot, characters, setting and more. The schools generally achieve such a result by employing the following tactics.
- Tackling underlying oral comprehension weaknesses
The study which found that excellent readers can comprehend poorly connected the reason for it to weak oral comprehension skills. A student may identify a series of words written together but when he/she hears it, the meaning of the sentence feels lost. Hence, the first step to enable reading for deeper comprehension is to identify if the student’s oral comprehension is in good shape. If not, we have to go back to the basics where teaching vocabulary along with reading and writing skills become necessities. While reading, a student will hear himself/herself. Oral comprehension naturally plays a vital role.
- Teaching comprehension directly
Talking about basics, it does not get any better to teach reading comprehension directly to students to build the skills in primary or middle school students. The step is pretty straightforward where the teacher reads a passage aloud and explains the meaning directly. Struggling students will pick up the skill faster this way and may replicate the teaching methods soon in their own reading exercises. The complexity of the passage has to vary depending on the student’s current reading levels and he/she might need a personalised approach to build mastery.
- Visualising the text in front
The best school in Sonepat rarely gives up the visualisation strategy following the preschool stages. Just like nursery students learn the meaning of the word “elephant” by seeing a picture of the animal, older students can rely upon technology to visualise how Switzerland looks like before reading a passage about the country or use the picture of Mahatma Gandhi’s Salt March to understand the event’s description. Visualisation aids comprehension and media can come in handy at all stages to help students develop deep comprehension of what they are reading. Smartboards and projectors have made the exercise easy today.
- Clarifying the lesson’s goal
What will you learn by reading this passage and chapter? Then, going back to evaluate if the reading goals have been met after the student has read the passage. Goal-setting before teaching or engaging in reading exercises creates a motive for the class. The student starts reading the passage after knowing what to expect. The mind automatically begins searching for answers while reading. It thinks after reading every line and throws back questions that need clarification. As the teacher intervenes to explain meanings, the student can pick up the text’s plot efficiently. In a way, the initial goals spark curiosity which helps to learn.
- Teaching reading comprehension reciprocally
Reciprocal teaching, a strategy employed by the top schools in Sonepat, can be applied to reading comprehension as well. Students take up the role of teaching themselves where the teacher merely acts as the supervisor. One student reads a passage aloud, another summarises the meaning. Another student asks the questions around the passage while another clarifies the doubts. For the second round, the roles switch among these students and each student now has a different responsibility in reading. Peer-to-peer learning is effective for retention. When applied to reading, deep comprehension levels can be achieved as a group.
Swarnprastha Public School has always taught reading skills to its students for deep comprehension. And these are the few strategies that SPS applies almost daily. The result is visible in the school’s overall board exam performance where the average marks secured are quite high. SPS builds the right educational foundation among its students from the nursery levels and they become self-learners by the time they reach the higher secondary grades. Reading is vital for learning and Swarnprastha teachers pay keen attention to this skill. Without deep comprehension, reading has no meaning.