Here’s how I differentiated the Houghton Mifflin comprehension skill of “Compare & Contrast” for my gifted sixth grade students, who have been successfully comparing and contrasting since kindergarten. Students investigated artists, developed a haiku, and learned how to shade with pencils.
All AboutReading Comprehension
This week, we’re tackling the comprehension skill “story structure” featured in the Houghton Mifflin reading program. It’s absolute nuts and bolts (identify setting, character, and plot) and is part of the reading program beginning in Kindergarten. A quick pre-assessment verifies that my sixth graders have a thorough understanding of this material.
The Houghton Mifflin reading program includes “making inferences” as the weekly comprehension skill. Their sample lesson concludes with an underwhelming worksheet. Let’s do something better. We’ll ask students to infer from multiple points of view, incorporate visual art, and present their thinking.
Here’s a movie made in 1977, and its trailer is barely watchable! In fact, it almost made me not want to watch Star Wars, a movie I know almost by heart. Perhaps we’re onto something interesting for our students to analyze.
In 6th grade, Houghton Mifflin’s Theme Two begins with the comprehension strategy of “Fact and Opinion.” A quick pre-assessment shows that my class has a solid grasp on the difference between fact and opinion, so how can I up-level my instruction? I realized that my students had an assumption that facts are “good” and opinions are “bad.” So my differentiated lesson became centered on challenging this belief.
By 6th grade, our reading program’s comprehension skills have become a bit basic for most of my gifted students. I’ve been working on increasing the depth and complexity of these skills. In this case, “Noting Details” has become “Explicit Vs. Implicit Details.”
As I looked over the next selection in my Houghton Mifflin Teacher’s Manual, I saw the upcoming comprehension skill was “cause and effect.” For my gifted 6th graders, simply teaching a direct instruction lesson about identifying causes and effects is a recipe for boredom and, as a result, behavior problems. My solution involved upleveling the comprehension skill and bringing in a little help from The Beatles.
I began to list all the things I could do after reading a book. Then, something wonderful happened. I began having all kinds of neat, interesting ideas. The more I thought about it, the more ideas came. By Erika Saunders.
Think you’re lucky to get your students to read a story once? Can’t imagine convincing a class to read a story through again? The key is giving your gifted students an enticing purpose for a reread.