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Comprehension can be one of the hardest skills for students. 

Good news for you! I have a lot of strategies to share. Let's turn those lightbulbs on!

Image by Brett Jordan


Comprehension starts with understanding the words that you are reading. Most "big" words are built using prefixes, bases, and suffixes. Being familiar with common prefixes and suffixes can be hugely beneficial for extracting meaning. 

It is also helpful to know some Latin and Greek bases since these help construct a large amount of words.

Try deconstructing these words:




What did you come up with?


 Word Works Kingston

Prefix List

Cali Reads

Flowchart with a person writing in a not

Mind Mapping/Visual Notes

Mind mapping, also known as visual note taking, is a great way to include creativity into your learning!

Start with the main idea or topic in the middle of your paper. Then add supporting details or information you learned about the topic. 

The cool thing about this is you can really make it as big as you want. 

The key for learning is to make as many connections as possible. Connect the bubbles, connect the text to images/drawings, and connect to prior knowledge.

Image by Brett Jordan

KWL Charts

KWL stands for Know, Wonder, Learn. Now, I know what you're thinking, "this sounds like a lot of work."

Well, the "K" column is for information you already know that relates to what you are about to learn. Easy enough, right? 

The "W" is what you want to learn or what you wonder about the reading/topic. 

The "L" is what you learned after the reading or the lesson.

Here is a template

Image by Matt Walsh


I love this strategy because it combines three wonderful strategies! 

Preview:  Preview the text by scanning for bolded subtitles, pictures, or any words that stick out.

Predict: By making a prediction, you are priming your brain to be looking for what happens next.

Review: Review what you learned. This helps your brain consolidate the information.

PDF here

Image by Kelly Sikkema


This is a simple but often challenging task for students. Practicing summarizing is a great way to get better at it. Choosing the most important information can seem challenging. 

1. Who or what is the main topic? 

2. What is the most important information? 

3. Make sure to include something from the beginning, middle, and end.

Challenge: Choose 10 key words from the passage and use those ten words to write a summary.


Cali Reads-Get the Gist

Man Writing


As you are reading, make notes in the margins. There is no "correct" way to do this. If your teacher wants you to annotate in a specific way, you should do that. Otherwise, there are a few different methods I recommend. 

1. Color coding- decide ahead of time what color is going to represent what. Think about the main idea, supporting details, main characters, and themes.

2. Come up with your own abbreviations that make sense to you. 

3. Ask questions in the margins.

4. Underline, circle, triangle, square different information. This helps your eyes noticing where to pay attention when you are rereading. 

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