Promoting Reading Comprehension Skills in the Middle School Classroom
This workshop will help middle school teachers learn about comprehension strategies that students need to apply in order to comprehend a variety of text types. Participants will explore the challenges students commonly experience with different types of text, strategies employed by successful readers, and instructional approaches to support students in developing reading comprehension strategies. Throughout the workshop, participants will gather ideas about designing a lesson plan that focuses on developing students’ use of comprehension strategies. Participants will leave this workshop with many new strategies and resources for fostering the reading comprehension of their students.
This is an introductory workshop for teachers, technology specialists, curriculum specialists, professional development specialists, or other school personnel. Participants are expected to have regular access to computers. In addition, participants should be proficient with using email, browsing the Internet, and navigating to computer files.
This workshop will enable participants to:
Deepen their understanding of the middle school students’ reading development and effective literacy instruction in grades 6-8
Deepen their understanding of strategies students use to comprehend text
Identify students’ use of specific comprehension strategies
Identify effective methods for teaching students comprehension strategies
Deepen their understanding of the demands of diverse genres
Develop lesson plans for teaching strategies for strategies-based instruction and for comprehending expository text
Deepen their understanding of the demands of online text
Analyze the ways in which technology can be used to foster students’ reading comprehension
Assessment and Course Requirements
This workshop is divided into six one-week sessions, each of which includes readings, an activity, and an online discussion among workshop participants. The time for completing each session is estimated to be four to six hours. Participants are expected to be engaged in course activities for approximately 30 hours during the six-session course.
Participants will use a Final Project Template to create their own lesson plan based on their work in this workshop. Participants will refer to resources from Sessions Three, Four and Five, and will consider how their instructional needs and their students' reading comprehension needs can be met by this lesson plan. Participants will consider the many concepts and strategies covered in this workshop - direct instruction of strategies, teaching with diverse text types and using technology to support instruction -- and develop a lesson plan that will best address their students' reading comprehension needs.
Participants will be evaluated on the frequency and quality of their discussion board participation. Participants are required to post a minimum of two substantial postings each session, including one that begins a new thread and one that responds to an existing thread. Postings that begin new threads will be reviewed based on their relevance, demonstrated understanding of course concepts, examples cited, and overall quality. Postings that respond to other participants will be evaluated on relevance, degree to which they extend the discussion, and tone.
Session One: Understanding Middle School Readers
In this session, participants will explore what research suggests about effective literacy instruction for middle school students. They will complete two readings and a self-assessment of literacy practices for middle school students. With their online colleagues, they will share observations about the factors that affect reading comprehension of students in the middle grades.
Session Two: Comprehension Strategies Successful Students Use
In this session, participants will learn about six core strategies that successful readers use to comprehend text. Participants will then view a video of students participating in a literature discussion and analyze the students’ use of the core strategies. Participants will also have the option to analyze their own students’ use of these strategies. In the discussion participants will reflect on students’ use of reading strategies both in the video and in their own classroom and discuss their observations with fellow participants.
Session Three: Providing Direct Instruction in Reading Strategies
This session will focus on ways in which middle school teachers can provide direct instruction in reading strategies to students. Participants will complete a reading on teaching reading comprehension and then view a video of a teacher providing direct instruction to students in how to make inferences and identify underlying themes in what they read. Participants will also explore a website of resources designed to teach the core reading strategies they learned about in Session 2. Finally, participants will discuss ways in teachers can help students to apply strategies they have been taught directly.
Session Four: Exploring the Demands of Diverse Texts
In this session, participants will consider challenges students experience in reading different text types. Because students at the middle school level begin to read nonfiction or expository text, participants will explore in depth the specific demands posed by expository text. A number of graphic organizers and lesson plans that focus on teaching expository text will also be explored. In the discussion, participants will discuss obstacles students may face when reading expository text.
Session Five: Using Technology to Enhance Reading Comprehension
In this session, participants will explore the role that technology can play in fostering students’ reading comprehension in grades 6-8. Participants will complete a reading about this topic as well as an article about strategies for helping students comprehend online text. Participants will also explore some online resources related to comprehension for middle school students. In this session’s discussion, participants will discuss with fellow participants the ways in which they might use technology in their comprehension instruction.
Session Six: Putting it All Together
In the final session, participants will complete their final project, which involves creating a lesson plan that they have already begun to think about in Sessions 3, 4, and 5. In addition, they will have the opportunity to provide their colleagues with feedback on their final projects.