Working with classroom readers

There are many ways you can work with classroom readers that are more inspiring and engaging than standard approaches, which can have negative effects on learning.

Monica Castiglioni

Answering questions may become simply a repetition of what is written in the story. The simple retelling of a paragraph may become an instrument to 'drill and kill' students' use of language. Comprehension questions may turn into a dissection of the text, while the pleasure of reading is left aside. 

We can help children experience the story from the inside out, not from the outside looking in. The key word is 'engagement'. Helping learners become better readers (and writers) implies dealing with the organization of ideas: the know-how to distinguish a main idea from a secondary one, and it means that students must be aware that there are connections between ideas at paragraph and text level. Activities designed for readers must not be artificial but opportunities to engage the students' minds, interests and feelings.

Pre-reading activities

  • Predicting from ...
    • first or last lines
    • visuals
    • a key word
    • the title
  • Matching titles of books with extracts
  • Ordering pictures from the story and predicting the order in which they will appear
  • Asking about pictures
  • Brainstorming related vocabulary

Post-reading activities

  • Matching pictures and quotations from the text
  • Casting film stars to act the different characters
  • Interviewing the characters
  • Creating a time line of the story
  • Dramatizing a part of the story
  • Questioning the author of the book
  • Creating a new character
  • Writing the diary of one of the characters
  • Writing a review for a specialized magazine
  • Designing a poster to advertise the book
  • Changing the end of the story

Comprehension activities

  • Reordering sequences from the story
  • Writing questions on the text
  • Taking notes
  • Inventing another title
  • Un-jumbling texts
  • Correcting a summary
Language Level

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