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The Comprehension Playbook

Reading Comprehension Lessons to Build Better Readers

  • Deliver engaging, whole-class instruction that gets results.
  • Equip readers with the skills to tackle any text.
  • Empower classrooms to help students read confidently
  • Help students prepare for standardized tests.
Roadmap

Why You Need a Playbook

Just as an athletic coach operates from a tried-and-true book of plays, teachers need their own playbook for developing readers who can comprehend text independently.

This reading comprehension book provides what teachers have long requested — an explicit, yearlong scaffold of mini-lessons to teach the comprehension skills required by today’s rigorous standards.

The compilation of “plays” included in The Comprehension Playbook teaches students to:

Ask & answer questions.

Retell/Summarize literature.
Retell/Summarize informational text.
Track ideas across a text.
See text organization.
Analyze author choices.

Compare texts and experiences.

Synthesize ideas across texts.

Our strategies to teach reading comprehension are available for Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7-12 as well as bundles for Grades K-5 and K-12.

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Key Features

Purpose

Many teachers confess to doing a lot of reading but not necessarily teaching reading. Pausing to ask questions during reading and guiding students to text-based answers is an important facet of building readers. However, these are not lessons—these are read-alouds.

Think of the reading teacher through the lens of an athletic coach. Whole-class comprehension lessons include the teacher (the coach) breaking down the steps to execute a single, new comprehension skill. In a lesson, the teacher (the coach) does the reading and the thinking; the students (the players) watch and listen.

This is the gradual-release model in action. A coach can’t expect his players to execute a play during a game unless he has broken it down himself, taught it explicitly, and given the players lots of opportunities to practice it. Similarly, a teacher can’t ask a comprehension question or assign a reading task (i.e., You do) until he has first broken down the skill explicitly (i.e., I do) and given the players several scrimmage opportunities (i.e., We do).

Just as an athletic coach operates from a tried and true book of plays, teachers need their own playbook for leading successful whole-class reading comprehension instruction. Supporting a full year of lesson concepts, The Comprehension Playbook provides easy-to-follow guidance on which comprehension skills to teach per grade range.

The compilation of “plays” teaches students to:

  • Ask & answer questions.
  • Retell/Summarize literature.
  • Retell/Summarize the informational text.
  • Track ideas across a text.
  • See text organization.
  • Analyze author choices.
  • Compare texts and experiences.
  • Synthesize ideas across texts.

Each comprehension play includes:

  • A list of the College and Career Ready Standards that support the skill.
  • A vision for spiraling and layering instruction throughout the year.
  • A detailed description of explicit points to make per instructional round.
  • A suggested full-color anchor chart to build and grow throughout the year.
  • Text considerations that support each lesson series.
  • Access to a members-only site with digital-related resources, including Google Docs, PDFs, JPEGs, and more.

Contents

Our reading comprehension book of plays offers strategies and lessons per grade level. Explore how each play can supplement your K-12 reading comprehension curriculum.

Kindergarten | 7 Plays
1. Readers Apply Reader Voices, K-12
2. Readers Write About Texts, K-12
3. Readers Ask & Answer Questions, K-2
4. Readers Retell Literature, K
5. Readers Retell Information, K
6. Readers See Text Organization, K-1
7. Readers Compare Texts, K-5

Grade 1 | 7 Plays
1. Readers Apply Reader Voices, K-12
2. Readers Write About Texts, K-12
3. Readers Ask & Answer Questions, K-2
4. Readers Retell Literature, 1-2
5. Readers Retell Information, 1-2
6. Readers See Text Organization, K-1
7. Readers Compare Texts, K-5

Grade 2 | 8 Plays
1. Readers Apply Reader Voices, K-12
2. Readers Write About Texts, K-12
3. Readers Ask & Answer Questions, K-2
4. Readers Retell Literature, 1-2
5. Readers Retell Information, 1-2
6. Readers See Text Organization, 2-3
7. Readers Analyze Author Choices, 2-3
8. Readers Compare Texts, K-5

Grade 3 | 9 Plays
1. Readers Apply Reader Voices, K-12
2. Readers Write About Texts, K-12
3. Readers Summarize Literature, 3-4
4. Readers Summarize Information, 3-4
5. Readers Track Ideas, 3-4
6. Readers See Text Organization, 2-3
7. Readers Analyze Author Choices, 2-3
8. Readers Compare Texts, K-5
9. Readers Synthesize Ideas, 3-6

Grade 4 | 9 Plays
1. Readers Apply Reader Voices, K-12
2. Readers Write About Texts, K-12
3. Readers Summarize Literature, 3-4
4. Readers Summarize Information, 3-4
5. Readers Track Ideas, 3-4
6. Readers See Text Organization, 4-5
7. Readers Analyze Author Choices, 4-6
8. Readers Compare Texts, K-5
9. Readers Synthesize Ideas, 3-6

Grade 5 | 9 Plays
1. Readers Apply Reader Voices, K-12
2. Readers Write About Texts, K-12
3. Readers Summarize Literature, 5-6
4. Readers Summarize Information, 5-6
5. Readers Track Ideas, 5-6
6. Readers See Text Organization, 4-5
7. Readers Analyze Author Choices, 4-6
8. Readers Compare Texts, K-5
9. Readers Synthesize Ideas, 3-6

Grade 6 | 9 Plays
1. Readers Apply Reader Voices, K-12
2. Readers Write About Texts, K-12
3. Readers Summarize Literature, 5-6
4. Readers Summarize Information, 5-6
5. Readers Track Ideas, 5-6
6. Readers See Text Organization, 6-12
7. Readers Analyze Author Choices, 4-6
8. Readers Compare Texts, 6-12
9. Readers Synthesize Ideas, 3-6

Grades 7-12 | 8 Plays
1. Readers Apply Reader Voices, K-12
2. Readers Write About Texts, K-12
3. Readers Summarize Literature, 7-12
4. Readers Summarize Information, 7-12
5. Readers See Text Organization, 6-12
6. Readers Analyze Author Choices, 7-12
7. Readers Compare Texts, 6-12
8. Readers Synthesize Ideas, 7-12

K-5 Bundle | 20 Plays
Readers Apply Reader Voices, K-12
Readers Write About Texts, K-12
Readers Ask & Answer Questions, K-2
Readers Retell/Summarize Literature, K | 1-2 | 3-4 | 5-6
Readers Retell/Summarize Information, K | 1-2 | 3-4 | 5-6
Readers Track Ideas, 3-4 | 5-6
Readers See Text Organization, K-1 | 2-3 | 4-5
Readers Analyze Author Choices, 2-3 | 4-6
Readers Compare Texts, K-5
Readers Synthesize Ideas, 3-6

K-12 Bundle | 26 Plays
Readers Apply Reader Voices, K-12
Readers Write About Texts, K-12
Readers Ask & Answer Questions, K-2
Readers Retell/Summarize Literature, K | 1-2 | 3-4 | 5-6 | 7-12
Readers Retell/Summarize Information, K | 1-2 | 3-4 | 5-6 | 7-12
Readers Track Ideas, 3-4 | 5-6
Readers See Text Organization, K-1 | 2-3 | 4-5 | 6-12
Readers Analyze Author Choices, 2-3 | 4-6 | 7-12
Readers Compare Texts, K-5 | 6-12
Readers Synthesize Ideas, 3-6 | 7-12

Standards Alignment

See how The Comprehension Playbook aligns with your school’s academic standards:

Science of Reading

While schools implement a phonics program to address word recognition skills, phonological awareness, and decoding, the Science of Reading requires a broader reading program.

  • The research-based Scarborough’s Reading Rope (2001) illustrates there is an intertwining connection between teaching word recognition and language comprehension.
  • Beyond learning phonics, readers must simultaneously learn how to think about the words they are decoding. It’s not a question of phonics or comprehension — students need instruction in both areas.
  • The Comprehension Playbook was created to support the language comprehension strand of Scarborough’s Rope.

As a supplemental resource, the Playbook helps teachers learn how to deliver effective whole-class mini-lessons to make the abstract and invisible thinking processes more concrete and visible.

 

Supporting Materials

Roadmaps
Each Playbook includes a grade-specific “roadmap” that outlines yearlong implementation.
K | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7-12 | K-5 | K-12
Online resources
Preview the content-packed digital resource site that is included with every Playbook purchase.
View a preview.
Index
How each comprehension skill is addressed within The Comprehension Playbook.
View the index.

Video

Learn how to use our reading comprehension K12 materials. You’ll also hear about strategies to teach reading comprehension at all grade levels.

Related Webinars

Professional Development

CompCON
A two-day reading comprehension conference for K-12 educators.

About the Author

Kristina Smekens

A celebrated educator, author, and literacy consultant, Kristina Smekens has built a reputation for using enthusiasm, humor, and common sense to equip K-12 educators with simple and effective strategies for teaching reading comprehension and writing.

As president and lead consultant for Smekens Education, Kristina is constantly developing new strategies to help teachers meet the demands of today’s College and Career-Ready Standards. She shares those strategies with teachers across the United States and beyond through on-site professional development, seminars, and an always-growing pool of print, digital, and video resources.

Kristina has a gift for making the complex seem simple—for showing teachers how to meet the needs of readers and writers by bridging the gap between education research and classroom-tested strategies that work.

FREE SAMPLES

The Comprehension Playbook Bundle

Preview a comprehension “play”

Purchase The Comprehension Playbook to receive:

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A list of the College and Career-Ready Standards that support the skill

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A vision for spiraling and layering instruction throughout the year

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A detailed description of explicit points to make per instructional round

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A suggested full-color anchor chart to build and grow throughout the year

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Text considerations that support each lesson series

The Comprehension Playbook Digital Resources

Preview the digital resources

Purchase The Comprehension Playbook to receive:

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Grade-specific anchor chart walk-throughs
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Resources to help you implement each comprehension “play”

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Related articles and videos to deepen your understanding
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Customizable road maps for teaching reading comprehension skills

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Ready-to-use Google Docs, PDFs, JPEGs, and more

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WHAT EDUCATORS ARE SAYING

Educators who have used The Playbook have appreciated its clear and easy-to-use approach. Hear directly from them about how our K-12 reading comprehension Playbook has led to improved reading comprehension with their students:

“We purchased a Comprehension Playbook for all of our elementary teachers K-6 and all of our Language Arts teachers 7-12, for the whole district.”

Tara White, Director of Literacy

Elkhart Community Schools – Elkhart, IN
“It’s so obvious that this is what we need to use and this is working…If we had it actually flowing through the building—that would be phenomenal”

Allison McCormick, Third Grade Teacher

Shaw Elementary School – Beavercreek, OH

“The Playbook allows us to come back to these skills multiple times a year to develop over time…explicit instruction of those foundational important skills.”

Tara Bush, Principal
Olive Township Elementary – New Carlisle, IN

“The Playbook has provided a structured framework for my classroom that allows me to teach my readers HOW TO read at a deeper level.”

Christen Bauer, Fifth Grade Teacher

Antwerp Elementary School – Antwerp, OH

“The Playbook has helped me break down large and difficult standards into target skills that help students reach the final expectation the standard requires.”

Cortney Moreno, Fourth Grade Teacher

Riverview Elementary School – Elkhart, IN

“The explicit instruction of teaching reading has provided our students with valuable skills they can use regardless of the genre they are reading.”
Hope Slayton, Instructional Coach

Elbert County Middle School – Elberton, GA

“The Playbook provides lessons that go deeper with the reading concepts than I would have done without it.”

Marcia Whitley, Eighth Grade Teacher

Mt. Zion Junior High School – Mt. Zion, IL

“The Playbook has deepened my understanding of how to teach and how to break apart the steps in the process.”

Jared Hoy, Second Grade Teacher

St. Charles Borromeo School – Fort Wayne, IN

“My students have a deeper understand of the skills and the depth of knowledge of their response to text questions is deeper.”

Kathryn Plumlee, Sixth Grade Teacher

Bixby West Intermediate – Bixby, OK

The Playbook in Action

Frequently Asked Questions

Which standards does The Comprehension Playbook address?

The Comprehension Playbook addresses all of the grade-level K-12 reading comprehension standards for reading literature and reading informational text.

Can I use this if I don't follow the Common Core?

All states have college and career-ready expectations for teaching reading, making all standards very similar. Read through the Common Core standards written on each Play to determine how your state standards line up with that expectation.

What order should I teach the skills?

Each Playbook is a unique combination of yearlong comprehension skills to teach–called plays. A grade-level road map is included, highlighting the suggested order to spiral through instruction.

How can I use the Playbook with my own scope and sequence?

Every Comprehension Playbook comes with its own suggested scope and sequence–a road map. But if your school already has a scope and sequence, use the Index of Skills to locate the Playbook lessons and teach them in your school’s required order.

Can I start using this in the middle of the school year?

Yes! You can begin using your Comprehension Playbook during any part of your school year. No matter when you start, always begin by introducing your students to their reader voices–a fundamental for every comprehension lesson.

When in my elementary reading block do I teach these lessons?

Each day, as part of your reading block, you’ll set aside 15-20 minutes to teach a comprehension mini-lesson. You’ll still provide other instruction (phonics, fluency, word work) as well. And your reading block will still include small groups and stations. This is a separate mini-lesson on a specific comprehension skill.

When in my MS/HS class period do I teach these lessons?

Reading instruction must be explicit and direct. Rather than simply reading and asking questions, we must teach students how to think. Every day, you’ll need to teach a 15-20-minute comprehension mini-lesson. Then continue on with reading novels, etc., and include questions that allow students to practice the skills you’ve taught.

Does the Playbook replace my reading curriculum/reading series?

You’ll still need your K-12 reading comprehension curriculum with the Playbook. But you’ll find that the Playbook has something your curriculum might be missing– how to teach the comprehension skills required in the college and career-ready standards.

How does the Playbook work with my reading series/basal?

The Playbook provides what to tell the children during mini-lessons. Your basal/reading curriculum gives you grade-level texts for them to practice the skills you’ve taught. You’ll still use the other components of your curriculum to teach other elements of reading (e.g., phonics, phonemic awareness, word study, etc.).

What does a comprehension "play" include?

The front cover of each play includes the yearlong skill focus, grade range, skill purpose, and grade-level standards. Inside the foldout, images of the anchor chart show a suggested roll-out that continues throughout the year in different “rounds.” Each round includes a one-sentence summary of the skill focus for that week of mini-lessons as well as day-by-day instructional points to use in everyday comprehension mini-lessons.

Does the Playbook include everything I need to deliver a lesson?

The Playbook includes the instructional points to include in a direct, explicit whole-class 10-15 minute comprehension mini-lesson. It provides the information you need for Step 2 in the 4-step mini-lesson process. You will need to plan the four steps and use other sources to procure the text that best lends itself to the skill you are planning to teach.

What texts do I use for the lessons?

You’ll use the texts you have on hand from your reading curriculum, chapter books or novels— science, social studies, and even math. Each round of every play includes specific guidelines for selecting appropriate text for the skill being taught. The Playbook does not come with texts.

BUY THE PLAYBOOK

Your classroom is sure to benefit from our practical strategies for teaching reading comprehension. Purchase The Playbook and help your students on the road to confident reading comprehension!

Single
Grade Level

$89.99

Grades K-5
Bundle
$149.99
Grades K-12
Bundle
$169.99
Have a Question?

If you are still unsure if The Comprehension Playbook is right for you, reach out to us. We will be happy to chat about your situation and discern if The Comprehension Playbook is the right fit as a supplement for your reading comprehension curriculum.

Complete the form below or call (888) 376-0448.