How to Improve Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension is one of the most important purposes for reading. If fact, reading comprehension can be one of the hardest tasks students will learn how to do proficiently during their school years. Comprehension is the reason for reading. Reading takes 2 components: 
  • being able to read the words 
  • being able to understand what the words say
Reading Comprehension is all about the meaning and what we are getting out of the text. There are many components to the comprehension puzzle and we need to use all of them to teach our students how to better understand the text they read. Below you will find some of the key components on how to improve reading comprehension.
Reading comprehension happens before, during, and after reading. We should be teaching these strategies throughout the story. Here are 8 ways on how to improve reading comprehension and some ideas to implement with your students or your own children at home. 

How to Improve Reading Comprehension
  1. Make Predictions: Good readers predict what will happen next as they progress through a story. They confirm their predictions by the pictures, print of the text, and the whole context. Teaching students to make predictions will help keep them involved in the story. We make predictions all the time when we are watching movies, why not with books too? Click here to read another blog post I wrote about Making Predictions.
  2. Use Prior Knowledge: Readers create meaning when prior knowledge is integrated with new knowledge. When students can draw upon their experiences and background knowledge, their understanding is enhanced and reading comprehension is greatly improved. Prior knowledge is said to provide schema which is the framework that facilitates thinking. 
  3. "Seeing" what they read in their head: Making pictures in our heads as we read will help the reader see what they are reading. This takes time and practice. Usually taking one sentence at a time and closing our eyes to see what they just read will help beginners learn the skill. Making the picture in our heads will help students understand and remember what they read. This will help engage the student and help them follow through to the end. They should be visualizing what the characters look like, the setting or surroundings they are in, and picturing the actions and emotions the characters are displaying as they evolve through the story.  
  4. Making Connections: Connecting a story to our real lives and making it personal really enhances comprehension. Connections help you remember and understand what you read. Connections happen in 3 ways; connection with other books, connections with ourselves, and connections with the outside world around us. Click here to read another blog post I wrote about Making Connections
  5. Reading with fluency: Research tells us that fluency and comprehension are related. Being able to read at a good rate allows the reader to stay with the story and to be pulled along by the plot. Students should be able to read 100 words per minute on their reading level. If it's under 100 words per minute, then the story is too hard for the student. If they are reading over 100 words per minute, then the story is too easy for them and they will need to read something more challenging. 
  6. Rereading when you don't understand: This strategy is what makes a good reader. When we don't understand what we just read, we must go back and reread it. If students are doing this, then they are on the right track. But if you find students just continuing to read without correcting themselves, they are not going to comprehend the story very well and will miss key points along the way. 
  7. Retell and Summarize: Retelling and summarizing have a significant positive effect on comprehension. Looking for the main idea, using supporting details with what's important and what's not, using graphic organizers to break down the story, and able to retell it in short form. When students talk about the story, they are clarifying, addressing points of view, and explaining interpretations. Students who can understand story structure have a greater appreciation, understanding, and memory for stories. Click here to see a blog post all about graphic organizers.   
  8. Good vocabulary: Students learn many words throughout the school year and every year they build on this list. Teaching good words or vocabulary will enhance their knowledge. Words are the basic building blocks of communication. Having a strong vocabulary is essential in comprehension as well as in writing and speaking too. Encountering new words helps the student in many ways. Have a vocabulary word wall in your classroom to keep reminding students these words and seeing them all the time over and over again will ensure proficiency.  

When we teach comprehension strategies, we our giving our students the tools to be successful. Students are responsible for their own comprehension. It is up to them to use the skills and strategies they are taught and apply them to their own reading. 

When teaching reading comprehension, the teacher includes these teaching strategies during their instruction:
  • The teacher is giving direct explanation or instruction of why the strategy helps comprehension and when to apply the strategy.
  • The teacher models how to apply the comprehension strategy by using "think aloud" or modeling fluency or reading techniques. 
  • The teacher provides guided practice and assistance to the students as they learn how and when to apply the comprehension strategies. 
  • The teacher provides the students with practice until the student can apply the skill independently. 

Beginning readers, as well as more advanced readers, must understand that the ultimate goal of reading is comprehension. These strategies are not the only ways to help students understand the story. They are the means of helping your students understand what they are reading.  

Here is a FREE list on "How to Improve Reading Comprehension" in bookmark form to give to your students for reminders to check themselves throughout reading. Click the picture below to download your FREE BOOKMARKS. Copy and cut-out the bookmarks for each student to use during school time or during their independent reading time. This freebie comes in 2 versions: black and white and with a gray scale shown below.

Keep reading below to see some resources that I have created to help with reading comprehension...  

I have a set of 20 Reading Comprehension Worksheets that are perfect for 1st and 2nd graders. There are 20 reading passages that students read and answer the who, what, when, where, and why questions. These are great for going back in the story to look for answers. Click the pictures below to be taken to my TPT store to read more about these reading comprehension worksheets. 

Good readers have a purpose for reading. I have a set of 18 posters that help with all kinds of reading strategies. I have these posters posted in my own classroom. Students love the visuals and they are great reminders for students as they practice reading strategies and comprehension. Click the pictures below to be taken to my TPT store to read more about them. 

I also have a pack of 20 reading passages for 1st graders to read and sequence the story. Theses worksheets are cut and paste. Students read the story, cut out the 5 sentence strips that summarize the story, and they place the strips in order from beginning to end. Students will be needing to use their comprehension skills to be able to summarize and sort the story in order with these worksheets. The stories are cute and fun to read for beginning readers. Click the pictures below to be taken to my TPT store to read more about them. 

Here are some resources I have used in the past to help improve reading comprehension. I linked them to Amazon to make it easy for you to check out: 

Here are some teacher books that are helpful for the elementary classroom:

Thanks for stopping by today!
See you soon,   

Number Ladders For Math

Have you heard about Number Ladders? Number Ladders are great for number sense in math! Number Ladders are growing in popularity and have proven to be good thinking tools for math or at your math centers. 

Number Ladders practice skills like addition/subtraction or multiplication/division. They also teach place value, the 100 chart, and number sense. Number Ladders will improve your student's thinking and strengthen their number sense. They are challenging enough for any learner in the classroom! Number Ladders are perfect for math centers too. If you have early finishers or need a new math center, try Number Ladders to spice up your math centers and get your students thinking. 

Let me show you how Number Ladders work:
You start at the bottom of the ladder. This ladder, above, says start at 10. Students move up the ladder, adding and subtracting along the way. When they reach the top of the ladder, they must be at a certain number. If the student is not at the correct number when they reach the top of the ladder, they will need to go back and check their work or do it again. 

There are a variety of Number Ladders available for all students at different learning levels. The pink ladders, are all about adding and subtracting single digit numbers. The orange ladders are all about adding and subtracting 2-digit numbers. The brown ladders are all about adding and subtracting by 1s 10s and 100s. The blue ladders are all about multiplying and dividing. The green ladders are all about adding, subtracting, multiplication, and division, all 4 wrapped into one. 

I know you will love Number Ladders. I am offering a FREE Number Ladder from each set to try. Click below to try one or all five Number Ladders today! There are 5 different Number Ladders to try: 
Number Ladders have 20 ladders to practice math skills. There are also another set of 10 ladders for a challenge! The numbers are already going up the ladder. The students need to tell what each step is doing. Is the step adding or subtracting and by how much? See below, an example of a challenge Number Ladder. 

Number Ladders are designed to reach a wide variety of learners in the classroom. Number Ladders can be used all year long. Number Ladders are great for thinking skills! They teach number sense and place value. They also practice addition and subtraction skills! Each set comes with 30 ladders. This includes 20 Number Ladders and 10 Challenging Ladders. All Number Ladders come in a black and white copy too. Each set has recording sheets and answer keys. Click below to be taken to my TPT store to read more about Number Ladders. 

I just added another Number Ladders: Coin Counting. Students add and subtract coins as they move up the ladder. They must have the correct amount when they reach the top of the ladder. Click the picture below to see the newest Number Ladders: Coin Counting. 

Click the link below to be taken to an older blog post about using Number Ladders in the classroom. The blog post has a FREE and fun white board activity to use in the same way Number Ladders are used. White Board Activity #1

I know once you try Number Ladders, you'll be addicted and love them So will your students.

Thanks for stopping by today. 
See you soon!

These Number Ladders also go great with Word Ladders. I have had many customers say that Number Ladders go great with their Word Ladders. Have you heard about or tried Word Ladders? I have used Word Ladders in my own classroom and the students love them! Word Ladders gets students thinking about words and learning to spell. I linked the Word Ladders below to Amazon to make it easy for you to view. If you haven't used Word Ladders, you should take a peek.

8 Plural Noun Rules

Plural nouns are words that are more than one person, place, or thing. When changing a word from single noun to a plural noun, the spelling of it goes a little haywire! There are many spelling rules that students need to keep in mind when writing or spelling plural nouns. I have 8 Plural Noun Rules that students can learn to help them keep their spelling straight.  There are more plural noun rules, but these 8 are the most common for elementary students. 
Not only will these rules help when writing, but they will help when reading too. Students will be able to see the spelling of the plural words in writing and will understand the meaning better when they understand the spelling. This will make students vocabulary and word recognition go up. 

Here are the 8 Plural Noun Rules:

Plural Noun Rule #1: Add s to form the plural of most nouns. Most nouns just need an "s" added to the word to show that it's plural.

Plural Noun Rule #2: Add "es" to nouns that end in ch, sh, s, x, or z. For example, beach=beaches, wish=wishes, dress=dresses, box=boxes, quiz=quizes.

Plural Noun Rule #3: Nouns that end in "y", with a consonant before the y, change the y to i and add es. For example: penny=pennies. The letter before the y is a consonant. Therefore, the y changes to an i.

Plural Noun Rule #4: Nouns that end in "y", with a vowel before the y, just add s. For example, boy=boys. The letter before the y is a vowel. Therefore, nothing changes and just an "s" is added. 

Plural Noun Rule #5: Nouns that end in "f" or "fe", change the f or fe to a "v" and add es. For example, elf=elves, loaf=loaves

Plural Noun Rule #6: Nouns that end in "o", with a consonant before the o, add es. For example: potato=potatoes.

Plural Noun Rule #7: Irregular nouns will change the spelling completely. For example, child=children, mouse=mice, ox=oxen, goose=geese. 

Plural Noun Rule #8: Some nouns use the singular spelling as the plural spelling. For example: fish=fish, deer=deer

Here are the 8 plural noun rules on one sheet! Plus, it's FREE! Click the picture below to download this poster and begin using it today in your classroom or with your students. keep handy in their writing folder. They will be able to refer back to this sheet at any time to help them write plural nouns.

I have a pack of worksheets, games, and centers dedicated to plurals. The pack below has over 61 pages that follow the poster above and work on each rules. 
Here is what's included in the Plural Pack. Just click the pictures below to read more about this pack in my Teachers Pay Teachers store:

Here are some items you may need when teaching about plurals. I linked them to Amazon to make it easy for you:
If You Were a Plural Word book
Plural Poster
Plural Task Cards
Irregular Plural Flashcards
Mad Libs

Thanks for stopping by today!
See you soon,

Check out more Grammar activities by Teacher's Take-Out:
Language Arts and Grammar for the Classroom

How to Write a Personal Narrative Paragraph

A personal narrative is a piece of writing that tells a story about an event in a person’s life. Every day, students narrate aloud stories centered on their own personal experiences. It is putting those stories into writing that will be the hardest part. When we write, our readers need more information in the writing than they would if they told the story orally. Personal narratives must be written in an organized way for the reader to fully understand the story. No matter how big or small the paragraph(s) need to be, they will still need to have a central idea, include some characters, write some descriptions, and a have clear beginning, middle and end. Personal narratives will help students write about what they know best: themselves.

Personal Narrative are great for students to explore and improve their writing. Students learn how to write by writing. They need opportunities to just write and they need to explore a variety of formats or ways to become a skilled writer. I have a few suggestions below to help with writing a basic personal narrative paragraph. You, as the teacher, will adjust as you see fit according to the needs or ability of your students. I think writing personal narratives can start as early as first grade. Second grade will refine their writing to look more like a paragraph. Third grade will have better and more detailed sentences. Fourth grade and up will have multiple paragraphs about the same topic. Keep reading below to pick up some ideas and freebies to get started writing personal narratives. 

Writing a paragraph with your students is a great way to model and teach them about writing their personal narrative. First, students will need to brainstorm a list of ideas to write about. Each students’ list will be different because everyone has different experiences. If you give your students a general topic, all students will be writing about the same idea. I start everyone off with, “The Time I Lost My Tooth”. I start with this prompt because every 2nd grader and up has lost a tooth at some point in their life. Their tooth loss story always seems to be exciting or traumatic for them. This will make it easier to generate ideas and have a lot to write about.


Once students have an idea to write about, they will begin their personal narrative with a topic sentence or opening statement. This sentence will state what their personal narrative will be about. Here are some opening statement examples for the “Tooth” story: “It was a funny time when I lost my tooth.”, “The time I lost my tooth was the day my brother was born.”, or “One time I tripped and my front tooth fell out.” More advanced writers will write more than one sentence and give more detail in each sentence. 

The middle or main idea of the paragraph will have students using some sort of sequence words to tell their story. These words are first, next, then, after, final or other sequence words can also be first, second, third, fourth, and so on. The sequence words appear in the middle of the personal narrative. Students sequence the events of their experience from beginning to end. This is where students can add details and write their experience in sequence order.

The ending is just as important as their topic or opening statement. Students must be able to let their reader know they are finished telling their story. Endings can be as simple as a question like, “Have you ever lost a tooth?” or a statement like, “I will never forget how I lost my first tooth.”

To help students write their personal narratives, here is a FREE checklist to help them make sure they've covered all the components that go into a personal narrative. This checklist covers all the 6-traits of writing. It also includes a checkbox at the end of the checklist for students to proofread their personal narrative. You will only be able to download this checklist from my blog only. Just click the picture on the left to download this free checklist and begin using it with your students today! 

I created a pack of 30 writing prompts to help students write some personal narratives. This pack already has the graphic organizer included for each prompt. It will be easy for students to get started or to use as a guide as they write their personal narrative. These personal narratives will be easy to distribute too. Use these for homework, classwork, or for early finishers. 

If you would like to try writing a personal narrative, try the blank graphic organizer to get started. Anytime you can get students to write, a personal narrative is a great place to begin. We all know students love to talk about themselves. Now let's see if they can write their story in words. 
This organizer is for beginners learning to write a simple paragraph. Students can use this organizer as a guide to write the perfect paragraph. This graphic organizer is also FREE. Just click the picture on the left to download it and begin using it today. 

When I'm teaching personal narratives, I always like to read picture books to my students that model personal narrative writing. Here are a few books you may like to read with your students to also show personal narrative stories. I linked them to Amazon to make it easy for you to view.

Good luck writing your personal narrative. 
Thanks for stopping by today!
See you soon,