The focus this week is on reading comprehension, so as a math educator, I thought I would bring in a parent's perspective this week. Now, please do not get the wrong idea here because reading comprehension is certainly important even in a math classroom where students are expected to read math word problems well enough to comprehend what is going on and then know how to set up the problem to then be able to solve it. I have always argued as a math educator that a standardized math test is more than just a math test. It is a math and a reading test! Anyway, back to reading comprehension.
In our school district, the students always have a required amount of time of independent reading to complete for homework each night. As a parent, I have to sign a paper once they have completed the required amount of timed reading. I have always been bothered by the idea that they are reading but may not necessarily be understanding what they are reading, so the "teacher" in me has taken the time to question them at times about what they have read. With the increased amount and difficulty of homework as well as the increased number of after school activities, my time spent questioning them about their independent reading has decreased. While I do understand that students have to find their own love for reading and that this independent reading possibly is trying to encourage that at home, I do worry about the development of reading comprehension and want to do all I can as a parent to help at home. Because as a teacher I know that all parents are not going to take the time or make the effort to do this, I started thinking about what a teacher might be able to ask a student to do in order to show some evidence of reading comprehension from the independent reading at home.
Thus, one thought I had was about having my children (and teachers could require the same of their students) create their own questions about what they had read. Students love to pretend like they are the teacher and write questions for a quiz or test! They would pretend like they would be writing the questions in a way that someone else who had read the same book would have to answer them. Therefore, they would also need to provide correct answers for the questions as well. A teacher could decide to collect these questions to use in group discussions over the books once a certain number of students had read the same book, or these questions could simply serve as evidence of the reader's comprehension of what had been read.
A second thought was to have children write a short journal entry after each independent reading assignment where they had to focus on the main idea about what they had read including main character names and events, along with the mood and tone (depending on the grade level of the student). I believe that the more that a student can learn to write about what they read, the better they will comprehend and the more they will develop their writing as well.
I do not have any related reading comprehension products, but I do have one writing product to help with the development of writing that I will link here.