top of page

Top 3 tools for making reading comprehension a hands-on event in middle school and high school ELA

Over the course of the past few years, the biggest challenge my middle school and high school ELA colleagues and I have faced is closing giant reading comprehension gaps among our students. Literacy scores have declined among middle school and high school students according to the Nation’s Report Card. While secondary teachers are experts at building reading comprehension at higher levels, we are often not trained in teaching the basic reading comprehension skills some students need. 

This school year, my mission has been to help students close the gap in their reading skills. That meant experimenting with new techniques and working to make reading as hands-on as possible. It also meant I needed to differentiate my instruction and meet students’ at their skill level.

Enter Teacher’s Discovery. This school year, I discovered tools from Teacher’s Discovery that saved me! Making reading comprehension engaging and hands-on can be challenging, but the tools you’ll read about here helped to make building Reading Comprehension skills highly engaging for even my most reluctant readers. The best part: these tools not only engage reluctant readers, they’ve also helped engage all of my students. They also work with any text, so I’ve been able to use them with independent reading, literature circles, and our article of the week program. 

Here are my top 3 favorite tools for making reading comprehension a hands-on event for all secondary students: 

  1. Literary Tic-Tac-Toe

Kids love games and they love choice. Literary Tic-Tac-Toe gives kids both! With over 50 activities on 35 cards, students have plenty of standards based choices for reading response. Literary Tic-Tac-Toe cards are dry erase, so they can be reused all school year and they work with ANY text!

Here’s how they work: The 35 cards are divided into three color-color coded levels (low, average, and high challenge) making differentiated instruction easy. Each level also includes comprehension, literary divide, and written response prompts that are based on Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. My favorite part? They align to the standards! It’s so easy to match the tasks students are completing with standards based activities already happening in the classroom. Nothing is busy work; every prompt leads to a deeper understanding of the text and can also be used to measure comprehension.

In my Academic Intervention 7th grade ELA classes, my middle school students completed Literary Tic-Tac-Toe activities despite the fact that they were all reading different literature circle novels. Students were completing meaningful, standards-based activities of their choice, and working on skills that build comprehension and close skill gaps. 

In one class period, students found powerful vocabulary in their text, examined repeated words and phrases and author’s purpose, and analyzed text structure. The best part? Students were working independently and I was able to conference with students about their work and give immediate feedback. Their responses allowed me to measure their growing reading comprehension skills, and when students had mastered a low challenge level response card, we moved them to the next level Tic-Tac-Toe. It was so easy to differentiate instruction this way!

Literary Tic-Tac-Toe questions are also available at the high school level!

  1. Info Text Tic-Tac-Toe

Like Literary Tic-Tac-Toe, Info Text Tic-Tac-Toe provides students with choice and fun! My middle school students complete Articles of the Week with current events from NPR. Info Text Tic-Tac-Toe provided my students with fun prompts for each article. Students were asked to complete one Tic-Tac-Toe route over the course of the week recording their answers on one paper to turn in for feedback. High school ELA students can use the Info Text Tic-Tac-Toe in the same way!

In addition, we used Info Text AND Literary Tic-Tac-Toe in our reader’s workshop to monitor comprehension with independent reading. Students were reading a range of texts of all different genres, and the Info Text and Literary Tic-Tac-Toe cards were so easy to use with all students’ texts! Students simply chose a card based on the genre of their text and completed a Tic-Tac-Toe track throughout the course of three weeks of reading during our Friday Reader’s Workshop.

Visit Teacher’s Discovery to check out the Tic-Tac-Toe sets!

  1. Erasable Cool Cubes with Prompt Clings for Literary Text and Informational Text Analysis

My 7th grade AIS students went wild for this activity! I added Informational Text Analysis Prompts to these Erasable Cool Cubes. Students took turns rolling the cubes, and then we answered the prompts as a whole class. Students loved that the dice were hands on. Erasable Cool Cubes made reading comprehension questions feel more like a fun game even though students were doing the work of learning!

In my ELA classes, we used the  Literary Text and Informational Text Prompt Clings in literature circles. Each group member would roll a single dice and the group would work to answer each question as a text based reading response. I was able to measure students’ comprehension of six different novels without having to create multiple question sets. Not only did kids love the Erasable Cool Cubes, but the Prompt Clings for Literary Texts and Informational Text saved me TONS of time.

After playing the game a few times, we decided to write our own prompts that were more specific to the texts we were reading. Erasable Cool Cubes come with a dry erase marker, and students and teachers can write on all sides, erase, and rewrite over and over. 

In literature circles, each group member brainstormed six text-based questions and wrote them on the sides of an Erasable Cool Cube using a dry erase marker. Next, students exchanged cubes, rolled, and worked to answer their classmate’s questions. The discussions were meaningful and highly engaging. I love that writing their own questions gives kids ownership of their learning! 

Erasable Cool Cubes made reading comprehension activities into something tangible, active, and hands-on. The prompt clings also come at the high school level. Students LOVED them!

Secondary ELA teachers are faced with the sometimes daunting task of working to improve reading comprehension skills and close massive reading gaps among students. Teacher’s Discovery tools make this task so much easier, kids love the activities, and the activities save teachers so much time. I love them because they are standards based, they work with any texts, and they can be used over and over for years to come! 

Literary and Info Text Tic-Tac-Toe and Erasable Cool Cubes with Prompt Clings for Literary and Informational Texts will be part of my middle school and high school ELA classrooms for years to come!

670 views1 comment

1 Comment

We at Tribrid have years of experience working with brands across all niches be it beauty, healthcare, tech, etc. Our years of experience custom cake boxes combined with the latest printing technology will allow you to get the best design and packaging solutions out there for product boxes wholesale. So what are you waiting for? Book a call or request a quote to get started today.

bottom of page