Reading comprehension activities for high school

Written by kyra sheahan
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Reading comprehension activities for high school
Reading comprehension activities help high schoolers enjoy reading. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Many high school students have difficulty when it comes to reading comprehension. While educators prepare students with reading comprehension lessons in primary school, it is not always a skill that students learn successfully by the time they reach high school. As such, high school teachers must come up with reading comprehension activities that are appropriate for high schoolers based on their skill levels.

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First Line Prediction

High schoolers can work on their reading comprehension skills through an activity that involves prediction. In this exercise, students receive a worksheet that contains the first lines of high school-level stories, poems or plays. Students are instructed to read the sentences and extract meaning from them by applying their knowledge of vocabulary, drawing on their experiences with particular writers and poets and applying what they know about sentence structure and context. Although the information they are given is brief, students must comprehend what they can and make a well-formed prediction about the genre, content and time period of the text. Students should also be required to describe how they came to their predictions by identifying the key information that led them to comprehend the text a particular way.

Pictures Tell the Story

Visual graphics help stimulate high schoolers' comprehension of stories by allowing students to apply their knowledge of media techniques, genre and language conventions to the literary text and images. Graphic novels tell much of their stories through cartooning, and this activity allows students to visually identify advanced literary concepts, such as the setting, symbolism, tone, theme, plot and subplot to help them comprehend the story. As an activity, pass out graphic short stories and instruct students to answer questions based on the meaning they extract from the pictures and text. Questions should prompt students to think about what the artist and author are trying to portray, what the story is about and how tone is exemplified through the pictures. Each student must be able to explain to the teacher how the combination of visual elements with the text helped him comprehend the story a particular way.

Vocabulary Crossword Puzzles

Poor word knowledge means a student's reading comprehension skills are suffering because he is unable to understand what he's reading. Teachers who want to improve their students' reading comprehension skills through vocabulary-building activities can use crossword puzzles. For this activity, the teacher starts by identifying challenging words from within the students' reading materials and uses them to create the crossword puzzle. As the students complete the puzzle, they are developing their word knowledge. The next time students come across these challenging vocabulary words in their reading materials, they will know what the words mean and have a better comprehension of the text.

Improvisation Scenes

Improvisation is the process of acting something out without a script, in which you make up the scene as you go along. A reading comprehension activity for high schoolers involves reading a passage from a book and acting it out in an improvisational scene. Students work in pairs and each team gets a different passage to review. After students have an adequate amount of time to read the passage, the teams are called on to act out their passages to the rest of the class. Students must use their comprehension skills to understand what the passage in the story is all about, so that they can recreate the scene for the classmates. This exercise teaches students what types of information to look for when reading to strengthen reading comprehension.

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