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Reading comprehension episodes help students learn to comprehend narrative, expository, and poetic text and to answer factual, inferential, main idea, and vocabulary questions about what they read, while also learning key academic vocabulary.
Why Use Reading Comprehension Episodes
Reading comprehension episodes provide students with the skills and strategies necessary to understand and answer questions about what they read. Throughout the episodes, students
- learn and practice strategies for answering questions about text, including literal comprehension questions, inferential comprehension questions, questions about main idea, and vocabulary questions requiring the student to derive the meaning of a word or phrase from context
- learn new vocabulary through explicit instruction and from context
- develop skills in resource use, including how to use tables of contents, maps, diagrams, and other illustrations that accompany text
- become independent in using comprehension strategies across increasingly complex text.
As students learn and practice these skills, they read a variety of narrative passages (including four multi-chapter stories); expository passages covering varied topics in science, math, and social studies; and poetry. Students learn over 100 academic vocabulary words through explicit instruction, with an additional 200+ words learned from context and from "just-in-time" vocabulary1. As students become increasingly independent in using strategies to answer questions, they also engage in activities specifically designed to prepare them for the testing environment.1 In "just-in-time" vocabulary, students can click on a word while reading a story to hear the word’s pronunciation and a short, accessible definition.
How to Use Headsprout Reading Comprehension Episodes
The online episodes can be used in whatever environment best suits the needs of your students, whether in a computer lab, the classroom, in the library, or at home. The episodes allow students to work independently, freeing teachers to monitor the entire class. Teachers can listen for oral responses, provide encouragement, celebrate student success, and offer support when needed.
All that is needed to use the program is an internet-connected computer or mobile device with the sound on, although headphones are recommended to prevent distracting nearby students.
Keys to Success
Follow these three keys to success to ensure that students get the most out of the episodes.
- Complete at least three episodes per week. We recommend that students complete at least three episodes independently each week. If a student needs additional help, teachers may first imitate the instructions given by the episode, or "translate" them into words that the student may better understand, letting the student know what the program is asking him or her to do.
- Make sure students are engaged. It is important that students actively read the passages, questions, and answers, and refer to the passage when answering questions. Actively engaging in the steps of each strategy and thinking aloud while solving problems will help ensure that students are gaining meaningful practice as they work through the episodes.
- Encourage students. The episodes include positive feedback, but teacher praise and encouragement are strongly recommended as students advance through the program and apply their new skills to reading a variety of materials.
Case studies and field testing have demonstrated the gains students make in their reading skills after completing the reading comprehension episodes. With systematic use of the program (following the three keys to success), students quickly show growth in their reading.
Find out more about our case studies and field tests.