Before this year, I would often introduce a text to students by saying one or two sentences about it, doing a picture walk, and jumping into reading. After taking my MRT course, I now know that pre-reading plays a huge role in students comprehension. We should think of comprehension as an inverted pyramid. At the top is pre-reading activities which takes up the most space, in the middle is Collaborative Strategic Reading and at the bottom is reinforcement and extension. In this post I wanted to share with you some of the pre-reading activities that my students love!
One of the most common pre-reading strategies that I use in my classroom is a K-W-L chart. K stands for what I know, W is for what I want to learn, and L is for what I learned. This year we read the book My Brother Martin and used a K-W-L chart to brainstorm what we already knew about MLK and civil rights. The students enjoyed the activity and were highly engaged before reading ever started. You can find a KWL chart here.
Another one of my favorite pre-reading activities is my mystery box (an old nike shoe box). I put 5 or 6 items in the box from the story and have students guess how they are related. Before my class read Because of Winn-Dixie, I placed a small toy dog, a mini tree, a stuffed bear, and a library book. Students had a blast discussing how all these items were connected.
Sometimes though, my students have limited prior knowledge about a topic before reading (especially with non-fiction) . In that case, I use a key-word strategy. I write down 10-20 key words or phrases from the text inside a box. Students then predict the relationship between the words and write them down. A traveling reporter then takes their prediction to the next group to share ideas. After reading, we verify or change our pre-reading statements.
The last pre-reading activity I want to share is an Anticipation Guide. Using an anticipation guide template, I write 10 statements in response to a new text. Students will either agree or disagree with the statements and change or verify their responses after reading. We often then discuss what statements were changed and why.
These four pre-reading strategies have boosted engagement and helped with our reading comprehension this year. I always end pre-reading by establishing a purpose for reading that day. Establishing a purpose is proven to help students comprehension. I hope you can use these strategies in your classroom.
We would love to hear from you! What pre-reading strategies do you use in your classroom?