I’ve always provided study guides for the primary texts we read in literature units, but several years ago a parent challenged me to provide more support for her daughter, who simply had difficulty with reading comprehension. How could she be expected to follow with the rest of the class when she was floundering with the basics of what was happening in nightly readings? As a result, I began putting together daily comprehension questions to provide some guidance.
My suggestion to students is that they first read the nightly reading assignment fairly uninterrupted. I even discourage extensive annotation but suggest a system where students make a quick mark on the margin whenever they see something of interest; they are then to make another quick pass at the reading to review and follow through on annotations. After their initial reading, I suggest they look at the comprehension questions for the night; if they can’t recall the answers by memory, they should peruse through the reading again to find what they missed and write out their answers; if they’re still confused or unsure, they should make a note of which questions gave them trouble so that we can discuss it in class.
I don’t collect or assess these handouts; they are intended simply as a resource to aid and ensure understanding. Of course, if a student happens to do consistently poorly on reading assessments, I might take a more forceful position in requiring that student to utilize this resource. I’ve also found these questions come in handy as the foundation for reading quizzes and tests.
In the past, I’ve xeroxed out packets (or doled out individual sheets) of these handouts, but I’ve come to rely on public shared collections in Google Docs: less waste. Here’s an example of a set of such questions for The Chosen by Chaim Potok: