The underlying principles for middle schoolers is similar to that of Elementary school students, but I require more frequent and more deep thinking from them (synthesis and making connections). Here are my summer tips for middle school students (and some high schoolers, too).
Reading Comprehension Tips (Middle Grades)
- some middle school students who have difficulty with reading comprehension benefit from audiobooks, even if their fluency is adequate as this can reduce the cognitive load (“amount of brain” your students require), and it can help increase focus as well
- by the middle grades, vocabulary is strongly tied to reading comprehension, so ebooks can be valuable as they allow students to listen to pronunciations and look up definitions of unfamiliar words
- students may be frustrated by their inability to understand some texts, as by the middle grades, text complexity (how hard a book is) sometimes increases dramatically. You may need to “translate” some texts line by line (the way that “No Fear Shakespeare” translates the original text into more modern English)
- Provide as much context as you can for whatever students are reading. Educational videos can be found on history.org, nationalgeographic.com. For fiction, look for play or movie versions of a book. For any text, use sparknotes or shmoop before students read a text to help their comprehension as they read, or after they read to double check their understanding
- be consistent about what students should look for in a text. TWA is a mnemonic to helps students remember to Think before they read, While they read, and After they read (adapted from Mason, Reid, and Hagaman’s book, Building Comprehension in Adolescents). You can use this TWA Google Doc for fiction and non-fiction texts or this Google Form for TWA for non-fiction texts with adolescent readers. Other mnemonics are also available, but the main point is to have students consistently reading actively, and applying their reading strategies across texts and text types.
- Middle school students and older students may also enjoy making book trailers. More than simply a slideshow of a book, it requires students to synthesize and make recommendations. Book trailer examples can be found on youtube, like this one for The Hunger Games or this one for The Fault in our Stars