Teaching comprehension can be daunting. It requires that students have a toolbox of reading skills in place, and that these skills function seamlessly. When one of these skills lacks (vocabulary, fluency ability, conceptual reasoning), understanding the text can be challenging for the student/child.
Many poor readers struggle with monitoring their comprehension while they're reading. Good readers, like you and me, do this naturally. When we're confused- we question the text, reread the paragraph, or even go to a second source to find more information. Poor readers are not always aware when they need to reread for clarification, and they may be unsure when or how to ask a question when they're confused.
I came across a brilliant comprehension strategy on Intervention Central earlier this year called Click or Clunk. I've been using this strategy all year (with great success), and many teachers at my school have also started using it.
When the child has read a page/paragraph/chapter (or when I have read a portion of text out loud) we stop and I ask them to Click or Clunk. Students say Click when they understand what they read, and Clunk if they're confused. If they say Click, they retell what was read. If they say Clunk, they ask a question that will help them to clarify the text.
This is so simple, yet so empowering for kids.
Here's why it works so well:
- The kids that understand the text synthesize the material for the other students- which is good for the "clickers" and the "clunkers".
- Students that think they understand the text (but don't), are pushed to explain their thinking. Usually this process helps them to realize their misconceptions- which, in turn, helps them to more fully understand the text.
- All students are eager to help each other understand the text and usually answer each others questions really well.
- "Clunkers" learn how and when to ask questions while they read. They learn how to explain their thinking.
- Students pay better attention to the text when they are asked to share so specifically.
- It's easy! Kids can easily do it independently!
- Kids like it! My students ask to do Click or Clunk, even when I don't have it scheduled into the lesson.
- It gets students talking A LOT more (and the teacher talking a lot less). When students are truly interacting with text in a lively discussion- they comprehend a whole lot more!
- Did I mention that it gets the kids talk A LOT more??!
How I use Click/Clunk:
- I use this in small group (3-5 students) discussion in reading sessions with my students. But you could easily use it whole class.
- Some days I have students get into pairs. Students switch off reading. At the end of every page, each student Click or Clunks.
- I use it as an exit ticket at the end of my reading session with the students.
- I made comprehension cards with different comprehension strategies- one is labeled for monitoring with Click/Clunk. It reminds the students to retell for Click and ask a clarifying question for Clunk. Despite the simplicity of the activity, my student really like have the card in their hands to help remind them how to Click/Clunk.
- I try not to do any talking. I choose the first student to talk, and then they call on each other. This takes me out of the conversation (for the most part), and helps the kids to have a healthy discussion on their own.