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What this is not
This is not a peer reviewed article. Nor is it a scientific treatise on empirically researched and proven methods of improving reading comprehension.
It’s just going to be a list. And it’s a list based on the fact that if you are an educator, you need rough and ready ways of hacking reading comprehension.
Actually, I’m going to split things up. You’ll get the list in the next post as I don’t want to make this too long.
Reading Comprehension is Difficult
Let’s face it. It’s actually really hard to improve someone’s reading comprehension. Reading is difficult and it takes a long time to see real gains. The problem is compounded if you have to do training or teaching in an environment where literacy gains are becoming more “high stakes”.
Perhaps your learners are tested for reading comprehension improvements. Or perhaps you just want to make sure that your learners actually read AND understand the texts that you put in front of them.
Whatever the case, the Reading Hacks list is offered up free of charge but with no guarantees. Pick and choose. You can let me know in the comments what you think. But first: When should you use this list?
When to use the Reading Comprehension Hacks list in Part 2
Use the Hacks list under the following circumstances:
- You have to create reading comprehension questions NOW for a text you use. This is because you want to check your students understand the content. You’re a responsible tutor or trainer. Good for you.
- You want to assess what you students actually know. You don’t have much time because your class starts in an hour. You should have done your prep yesterday, but hey you don’t get paid for that right?
- You’re doing a professional development course to improve yourself as an educator. Someone has set you an assignment. You have to do some kind of reading comprehension intervention. You don’t want to read someone’s lame text book on how to do this. You don’t have much time and you don’t care about the theory anyway, right?
- You’re teaching or designing a course where you need to embed literacy into your particular content or subject matter. This is a great idea. Good for you. If you can embed literacy into your trade or other vocational training you are officially doing “more with less”. You just became a more valuable employee. Don’t ask for a raise though as your boss doesn’t have any more money. She has to do more with less as well.
- You want your students to get more familiar with the kinds of questions that they might face in a formal assessment. Just to clarify, this is not to say that you want to “teach to the test”, but it’s more like you want to ensure that people know the kinds of questions and the question formats that they might face. The more familiar they are with the structure of the questions and the kinds of answers, the more likely their test results are going to be valid. If they don’t understand the questions… how can they answer based on what they know about the content? My Reading Hacks list is based on the kinds of questions my learners have to answer. Actually, my learners’ learners as I’m in the professional development field.
How does the list work?
Again, this is non scientific. It’s just my own personal analysis based on several days staring at a bunch of computer generated reading comprehension assessments. Basically, I think there are two broad question types we want to work with. These are:
- Identify something. “What year was the company started?”, “How is this list organized”, “Which person has only one item on the list”.
- Complete something. “New graduates must…”, “The aim of the study was too…”, “The purpose of this text is to…”
And then I think there are about three kinds of responses we want to limit ourselves to. These are:
- Choose from multiple choice answers. E.g. Choose from one of four possible answers.
- Choose from a forced binary choice. E.g. Choose whether something is true or false, correct or incorrect , or answer yes or no.
- Underline or circle something.
There are more response types and question types obviously. But I think it’s useful to set some narrow parameters to make it easy to generate reading comprehension questions quickly and easily. Also, these kinds of restrictions work if you are creating question items on a computer-based learning platform. Computers aren’t clever enough yet to deal with big chunks of text generated by the learners as answers. It’s coming but we’re not there yet.
Finally, I think we need to add one more dimension to make it interesting. This is inferencing. Inferencing is what you do when you can’t get the answer directly from the text. You have to “read between the lines” to get the answer or draw your conclusion. In other words, you have to infer an answer when understanding something that is not stated explicitly in the text.
So this means our reading comprehension questions can be tagged as follows:
- Inferencing required to answer
- Answer stated explicitly. No inferencing required.
One more comment on this: You won’t be able to tell sometimes if someone has inferred the answer or they already knew it based on their prior knowledge of the subject. For example, if you ask a question like “What does X mean?”, a reader who has good inferencing skills but doesn’t know the word may be able to work it out from the surrounding context. Another reader may already just know the word. If you really want to know, just ask them. They’ll tell you.
For our purposes it probably doesn’t matter too much as you’re probably assessing higher level vocabulary that is going to be technical and specific. Great if they already know it and great if they can work it out.
And actually, great for you if you can use your rough and ready reading comprehension hacks to figure out that they don’t know a word. Because then you can teach it to them. I know… amazing really.
Ok… Here’s the rest of the good stuff on hacking reading comprehension questions
- Hacking Reading Comprehension Part 2
- Hacking Reading Comprehension Part 3
- Hacking Reading Comprehension Part 4
Reading Between the Lines – The Secret Guide to Hack Reading & Listening Comprehension
Discover how to hack reading and listening comprehension so that you can check if people really understand what the hell it is you’re saying
I can show you how to hack reading and listening comprehension. This will help you if you are a teacher, trainer, course writer or salesperson who relies on content.
Once you’ve been through this guide you will understand:
- How to write assessment items for any reading or spoken text
- How to structure your questions or assessment items so that they are easy to use with online platforms that allow you to write self-marking quizzes
- The difference between a question that relies on explicit knowledge versus a question that requires the reader to “infer” the answer
Most online courses are rubbish. They’re just an information dump. The same thing happens with classroom and online teaching. If you want your people to actually learn your content or you care about whether they understand what you’re saying to them, then this is for you. You can read more here.
CHECK OUT READING BETWEEN THE LINES: THE SECRET STEP BY STEP GUIDE BY GRAEME SMITH
Click the link below to find out more about Reading Between The Lines: The Secret Step-By-Step Guide.
Literacy & Numeracy – It’s Not Rocket Science
Learn the fundamentals of literacy and numeracy with Graeme Smith
Discover how to be more successful in your teaching journey. I’ll introduce and explain some of the fundamentals of adult literacy and numeracy.
Once you’ve finished reading, you will have a better understanding of the basics including how to integrate or embed literacy and numeracy into your teaching. This includes with technical and vocational education. You can read more here.
Now bundled wth two free printable resources – a place value chart and hundreds grid.
CHECK OUT LITERACY AND NUMERACY: IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE BY GRAEME SMITH
Click the link below to find out more about Literacy and Numeracy: It’s Not Rocket Science.
The Educator Entrepreneur – Don’t Bring a Whiteboard Marker to a Knife Fight
Learn how to think like an Entrepreneur with Graeme Smith
Education is a tough business to work in. And that’s true regardless of whether you are a teacher, a trainer or any kind of specialist educator. But what if you’re a business owner AS WELL…!
If you’re like me, most days you’re probably pretty excited about what you do. But some days… Some days I can’t understand why anyone would want to work in education. But I learned to survive and thrive and you can too. Teach yourself a lesson and start thinking like an entrepreneur. Read more here
CHECK OUT THE EDUCATOR ENTREPRENEUR – DON’T BRING A WHITEBOARD MAKER TO A KNIFE FIGHT BY GRAEME SMITH
Click the link below to find out more about The Educator Entrepreneur – Don’t Bring a Whiteboard Marker to a Knife Fight
What is Learner-Centred Teaching – 12 Concepts from Te Ao Māori You Should Embrace to Create Learning Success
Discover time-honoured approaches to learner-centred teaching
What if I told you that there were time-honoured approaches to teaching and learning you can use to create the conditions for learning success. Imagine if your teaching really connected with your learners… What if your classroom or training environment was a place where your learners felt like they belonged and wanted to learn?
Here’s a secret. It’s totally possible if you discover and embrace time-honoured concepts from Te Ao Māori – the Māori world. This book is for you if you want to teach or train in a way that is more learner-centred or if you want to learn to think in a more holistic way. Read more here
CHECK OUT WHAT IS LEARNER-CENTRED TEACHING? 12 CONCEPTS FROM TE AO MĀORI YOU SHOULD EMBRACE TO CREATE LEARNING SUCCESS BY GRAEME SMITH
Click the link below to find out more about What is Learner-Centred? 12 Concepts from Te Ao Māori You Should Embrace to Create Learning Success
Three Simple Approaches You Need for Learner-Centred Teaching
Find out more about three of the fundamentals of adult teaching
Have you ever thought about how to improve your teaching? Have you ever wondered what it takes to create learner success in any teaching environment? Well, you need three things. Make that four things… You need to:
- Understand what people mean when they talk about “learner-centred” teaching.
- Know how to leverage your learners’ prior knowledge.
- Have simple ways of increasing the motivation of your students.
- Know what learner agency is and how to develop it.
Read more here.
CHECK OUT THREE SIMPLE APPROACHES YOU NEED FOR LEARNER-CENTRED TEACHING BY GRAEME SMITH
Click the link below to find out more about Three Simple Approaches You Need for Learner Centred Teaching – Proven Ways to Use Prior Knowledge, Increase Motivation and Develop Learner Agency to Pave the Road to Learning Success
How To Not Suck At Writing More Than 280 Characters
Learn strategies taught in university and college writing courses
So you can write 280 characters. So can a lot of people. But what happens beyond that? What happens if you want – or have to – write something longer?
This is where it gets tricky for some. Discover you you can write long-form content like blog posts, articles and books. Read More Here
CHECK OUT HOW TO NOT SUCK AT WRITING MORE THAN 280 CHARACTERS BY GRAEME SMITH
Click the link below to find out more about How to Not Suck at Writing More than 280 Characters.