Book Talk Thursday ~ Comprehension Time

I so enjoyed all of the link-ups last week and can't wait for more this week!  I have all kinds of books on my wish list now that it is overflowing!!  I will be reading through next summer at this rate!

Anyway, it is time for another Book Talk Thursday!

This week, I am highlighting a professional book that I reread every summer.  It is a quick and easy read that I literally read in one night!  I have actually seen a few bloggers who had it on their bucket list for summer reading.  The book is called Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading.
When I was still teaching in my third grade classroom several years ago, I had a tough schedule and an equally tough group of students.  There was a high population of special education students along with some other challenges.  The students' reading levels ranged from Preprimer to 6th grade.  I needed a way to reach them all!

Our literacy specialist in the district gave me a copy of this wonderful book that opened my eyes to comprehension as we know it!

Tanny McGregor opens up the book by comparing reading instruction to concrete bridges and the New Deal.  We, as teachers, need to empower our students through concrete reading instruction that will lead them to becoming better readers.

Throughout the book, she refers to using concrete objects to help teach about reading, a not so concrete subject.  Students have to be able to visualize to be really good readers, and some really struggle with that.  We have to lead them to getting the meaning through reading.  She has a launching sequence that scaffold the reading strategy from concrete learning to reading books.  Each chapter focuses on a different reading strategy:  metacognition, schema, inferring, questioning, determining importance, visualizing, and synthesizing.

In each chapter, she gives a concrete example for the children and then a list of books to help with that strategy.  Here are some of my favorites.

Every beginning of the year while the teachers work on their reading assessments, I teach their classes.  I usually choose one strategy from the book and teach it in its entirety.  As they move through the grade levels, the kids get them all at some point.

When teaching metacognition, thinking about thinking, I have the kids make a "Reading Salad" as we read a specific book.  It helps to show them that reading a book is not just the book itself but the thinking they are doing.

When teaching about schema, I love using the lint roller to help them understand the concept of having background knowledge.  We write ideas about our family on little pieces of paper and then roll the lint roller over them to show how all of our background knowledge (schema) together works together to help us understand a book.
I especially love teaching the kids to infer.  This is always tough, but they love the examples in the book.  My favorite is looking at a person's shoe to figure out what it would be used for.  That very year with my challenging class, the special education teacher brought in her husband's work boot and a dress shoe for kids to figure out what they were used for.  How fun to watch them talk about how they knew what the shoes were used for and about the person who wore them, even without our telling them anything!

Naturally, children like to ask questions, and they should  really think about questions as they read to help them better understand the content.  She offers questioning stems to guide the process and uses a simple rock to help them start to think about asking certain questions.

When doing all of this reading, children need to be able to figure out what is important in text.  By determining importance, they can pick out the main ideas and details to weed out what they really need to focus on.  I love to use the little finger lights to allow students to locate what is important in their reading when they can't write in a book.  Then I can also see if everybody is where I want them to be.
Do you remember playing with this to see closer or to be a pirate?

This toilet paper roll holder is perfect for helping students look closer and visualize.  By using these, students can "see" everything more clearly.

And then we can tell the whole story and watch as it all unravels.  She uses nesting dolls to help unfold the story.  Think about how each doll is a little different and the stories they can tell.  This is a great way to help students tell about a topic or a story through their own thinking.
The book is great because it is so easy to follow!  There are many examples of books and other reading material to use.  The best part is the simplicity of all of the lessons!

So, how do you teach comprehension strategies to your students?

And don't forget to link up this week for another chance at a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble!  I can't wait to add to my list of books to read!


  1. Hi Andrea~I linked up again. I hope that's okay. I am always posting about books so this is the perfect linky for me. :)
    I love the book you mentioned. I posted a lesson about Don't Laugh at Me a few weeks ago and it was a lesson I had taken from Comprehension Connections. Great post! Thanks for hosting a book linky. :)
    Creating Lifelong Learners

    1. Absolutely, Brandee! Link up as much as you like!! The more you link up, the more chances you have of winning a gift card! Thanks for linking up again this week!


  2. Thanks for the great suggestion. I just added ANOTHER book to my Amazon cart...hehe
    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

  3. I just read this book a few weeks ago and really found it to be full of solid ideas. Great stuff!
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  4. Oh my...sounds like a professional hot read! THANKS FOR SHARING! Can't wait to hear more!

  5. This was one of the books assigned to us for my masters, and I love it!

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late

  6. I have had this book in my wishlist for months...I think it is time I ordered it!

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  7. I love this linky! With VBS this week I am a little behind in my reading but I am hoping to link up tomorrow (with two completed) books.

    :) Nicole
    Tadpole Tidbits

  8. I enjoyed reading your post today, Andrea, and I linked up with Thunder Cake by Patricia hero! My favorite of hers is definitely Thank You Mr. Falker, but thunderstorms seems to be the topic of the day during summer, right?? Have a great weekend, and thanks again!

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  10. Thank you for such a great post and now I have another book to read.

    I tried to link up again with These Hands but wasn't able to add it to the list. Not sure what I'm doing wrong.

    Thanks for doing this! I am enjoying reading everyone's post.

    1. I am not sure why it didn't work. If you send me the link to your post,I can link it up for you. Email me at


  11. This is one of my all-time favorite teaching resources. I'm seriously obsessed with Tanny!!

    I'm having a great time clicking around on your Book Talk Thursday linky party. Love it! I host a similar linky party on Fridays called Fiction Friday: A Celebration of Children's Literature. I started last summer and just hit week #2 of the 2013 edition today. I love books and talking about books!! Don't you?? Thanks!!

    The Teaching Thief

  12. Linking up for the first time! I love this linky party and have enjoyed reading some of the others' posts!
    I am your newest follower!


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