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FACILITATING READING COMPREHENSION FOR MY ELEMENTARY STUDENTS IS A CONTINUAL GOAL for me in my Spanish classes, with several in place right from the start, including high text to illustration correspondence, repetition of text (and/or pattern sentences), and lots of visual props to accompany my teaching when I introduce a new mini book. Always on the look out for additional strategies, I’ve begun using a new one I adapted from a strategy incorporated by home room teachers: ANNOTATING THE TEXT, or as I like to call it, coding the story.

Annotating For Greater Text Comprehension in World Language Classes

THE CONCEPT IS SIMPLE: Use a series of annotations to create a visual mechanism which conveys the meaning of the words within the text, so that, as students are reading, the meaning jumps out at them immediately (or at least, more quickly). With my 3rd & 4th graders, who are ready to decode simple texts independently, this strategy becomes a way for them to access the story in a different format (rather than me providing all the input & scaffolding verbally in the initial introduction). ***This doesn’t mean it replaces me telling the story, just adds another layer for comprehension purposes.

HOW TO ANNOTATE: Each text being different, the annotating is unique to each story, but here are the MAIN STEPS:

1: Go through the text yourself prior to introducing the story & identify key vocabulary that can be highlighted in some fashion- color coded, circled, small icons or pictographs put under/over, underline, label the illustrations, etc. Concentrate on those concrete words which the coding can help to bring meaning into view quickly. In the above example, you can see a variety of annotations: verde is colored green, queso is colored yellow, Mateo is circled in brown (because he is brown), the spaceship is labeled, a heart is put under ‘favorito’, the planets are labeled. Make a list for your own reference. (This mini book comes from our Theme Pack, Mateo el astronauta, which you can find by clicking here)

2: In class- before reading the story together, hand out the mini book or other text, and begin the process of annotating. Do one annotation at a time so all kids can keep up and don’t get confused during the process. Once the annotating is finished, you can then read through the story using storytelling techniques. As kids follow along, their comprehension is now enhanced by the annotations; this also facilitates future re-readings of the story, and supports your Special Ed kids with concrete connections between text & meaning. I would add that I think kids doing this annotating themselves is more beneficial than you doing it yourself in the text-they are connecting meaning while they are annotating, much like writing has been shown to facilitate learning, as opposed to using a digital device.

Note: this strategy also reduces the need for translating, allowing you to stay in the target language more often :)

A Reading Comprehension Strategy for World Language Classes


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