NEW! Weekly BrainGain Questions for 3rd to 5th graders
Improving reading comprehension skills can be a tricky task to tackle over the summer for upper elementary students. ThinkStretch is innovating in this area with our new BrainGain questions for 3rd to 5th graders. Supported by the Parent Guide to Summer, weekly BrainGain reading comprehension activities are guided by the Common Core State Standards’ emphasis on deep understanding of reading materials.
As children become independent readers and rely less on parents to be present for reading time in the home, parents can become disengaged from their child’s reading experience. In my home, it was often enough just to set aside a time and place for reading. Checking off or initialing the reading log was the only parent requirement.
However, as understanding of summer reading loss built over the last several years, it has become clear that while logging reading minutes is crucial, it is the reading comprehension activities that provide the student advantage for the next school year.
As I contemplated the research and the typical family time and structure of a 3rd – 5th grade student, I knew we needed to balance the independence of the reader with the need for continued parent engagement in reading.
When I was developing the ThinkStretch Summer Learning Program, many parents let me know that they did not understand what reading comprehension meant. Their student was reading 20 minutes a day, so of course he must be understanding what he read. It became clear that parents needed direct, simple activities to engage in with their child to maintain reading comprehension skills over the summer.
ThinkStretch has separated the parent resource, Parent Guide to Summer, from the student summer activity book. This allows parents to have at their fingertips a number of reading comprehension questions and activities for a range of reading levels.
The next hurdle was tackling reading comprehension from a student perspective. Kids are not particularly interested in writing book reports over the summer. They are, however, very willing to share their opinion about the ending of the latest “it” book. Or to talk about the cool new fact they learned about their favorite basketball player. Because students are reading books of their own choosing in the ThinkStretch summer review program, the content of their weekly reading is exciting and interesting to them. These student desires align nicely with the requirements of the Common Core State Standards.
The BrainGain feature encourages collaborative conversations, vocabulary building, and practice of reading and writing skills, all critical aspects of the CCSS for reading and writing. From a student perspective, however, the BrainGain questions are fun and engaging opportunities to think and write about something they love.
For a 3rd grader heading to 4th grade, a BrainGain question may ask: “Write three new titles for the book you are reading that describe the book better. “ For an older student, Week 5’s BrainGain Question for 5th-6th graders asks “What would happen if your story took place at a different location – Alaska, the ocean, or in an apartment building?” Other weekly questions focus on prediction, vocabulary building, and making connections.
We are excited to hear from you how this new feature impacts your students and classroom next fall. Have thoughts on BrainGain? Leave us a comment!