We all know, as teachers, that comprehension isn’t black and white. There is much gray area for students to understand. For example, teaching main idea isn’t just about main idea. It’s about connecting details and identifying important versus unimportant events. Main idea is about understanding the message from the author. It’s about identifying the structure of the text. There’s more than just teaching main idea. One unique way teachers can help students understand comprehension skills a little better is by using rubrics! Let’s break down how teachers can use rubrics to teach comprehension in the classroom!
What is a comprehension rubric?
A comprehension rubric is very similar to any other type of rubric you may use in your classroom. Just like teachers use rubrics in writing to show the expectations of the writing piece, comprehension rubrics can be used to do the same. It is a document that breaks down the targeted skill and shows students exactly what goes into fully understanding that skill. There are so many pieces that impact comprehension. This may include prerequisites to the skill, components of the skill, or different focal areas that help students understand the skill.
Once the targeted skill is broken down into its components, it is then put into a rubric form. I choose a simple table where the rubric components are on the left and the scaling system is on the right. I also like to add an opportunity for students to state in their own words their understanding of the skill and reflect on how they feel they are doing.
How do you use comprehension rubrics in the classroom?
Teachers can use comprehension rubrics in a variety of ways.
- Begin your skill unit by introducing the rubric. Go through each component on the rubric piece by piece and explain how they are all connected to and important in order to master the given skill. Display the rubric throughout the skill unit and check off each component as you focus on them.
- Use the rubric to identify different mini-lessons to focus on. Each component in the rubric can turn into its own mini-lesson to help you make sure you’re breaking down your modeling of the skill, hitting all prerequisites, and building a strong foundation for the students.
- Use the rubric to help identify where students are struggling with the skill. This allows you to focus more on the specific issue rather than the entire skill at one time. You can group students by specific components and focus in on each group’s needs.
- Use the rubric to help create unique questions on assessments. Sometimes asking the same question over and over again (What is the main idea) isn’t beneficial. We need a variety of ways to ask the question so we know students really understand. Using the rubric can help you ask a variety of questions all about one specific skill.
- You can also use the rubric to allow students to reflect on their learning. After you have focused on the skill, give the rubric to students and let them rate themselves based on each component of the skill. How do they feel that they are doing? Where are they confused?
Tips on creating comprehension rubrics!
There honestly isn’t a step by step procedure to follow when creating comprehension rubrics. It’s mostly about knowing and understanding the comprehension skills and strategies inside and out. Breaking every step apart, analyzing the prerequisites needed. One thing you can do is look at standards from grades above and below your grade to see if they give any insight on what you can place on your rubrics.
Also, talk with other teachers in your grade and the grades above and below. They will be able to help create a more detailed rubric with you that they can possibly use too.
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