Best Reading Comprehension Strategies For Middle School | Iris Reading
Best Reading Comprehension Strategies For Middle School

Best Reading Comprehension Strategies For Middle School

Best Reading Comprehension Strategies For Middle School

Reading comprehension strategies for middle school children include structured discussion, metacognitive learning, and visual comprehension. 

Reading comprehension is the ability to read, understand and interpret a text. 

While children develop this skill as they graduate from one class, they also learn comprehension through personal experiences. 

In middle school, they are required to achieve extraordinary feats in reading comprehension as they prepare for advanced classes. 

Thus, as a middle school instructor, you need to devise learning procedures to bring them up to speed and learn cooperatively among peers. 

Below are the best reading comprehension strategies for middle schoolers to overcome this challenge. 

1. Stimulating structured discussion with reciprocal teaching 

One of the best ways to learn something is to teach it. Reciprocal teaching puts that into practice. It is a guided instructional activity in which students take on the role of instructor. 

Social media has affected the reading comprehension of many teenagers. For example, 80% of teenagers don’t read for pleasure daily, opting for social media instead. 

They are primary receptors of information on social media rather than sources. So they communicate less information than they consume. This affects their comprehension skills negatively. 

A reciprocal reading comprehension strategy reverses this. As learners take the role of the teacher in each group, they begin to think critically about the texts they read. Thus, they consciously understand the themes and structure of the text. 

In practice, you must choose the text in class before the reciprocal teaching process begins. 

After that, students are ready to split up into groups in which they discuss the four techniques below:


Summarizing a student’s work reflects the story they read or reveal. The goal is to get them to explain their ideas. 

To summarize the text effectively, students have to describe what they know. Then, they must identify essential ideas and consolidate key elements of texts promoting those views. 


Questioning ensures students engage closely with texts and are not simply passive.

It also helps them develop critical thoughts on the material read, which is vital to achieving a high level of comprehension. 

As you invite students to think, they ask themselves questions and explore the text to understand the content. 


Teachers can ask students to predict a story using the title and other available clues, including illustrations and text. 

Alternatively, the teacher can request student research in text supporting or refuting the predictions.

2. Understanding context

Sometimes students have a vocabulary understanding of a text. They may even have an idea about the book. But if they can’t relate the text to relevant context, we cannot say they have achieved reading comprehension. 

Context is essential in reading comprehension. Even though The Hobbit and The Girl Who Drank the Moon have whimsical plots, they tell different stories with diverse characters. 

Thus, a learner with excellent comprehension skills will relate these characters to different contexts. 

It would be best to teach them to understand the intricate details and developments required to discern what is not explicitly stated in the reading.

Some strategies that education experts point out include:

Identify the theme of the text

Identifying the big idea of a text helps readers form relatable opinions about the text. 

For example, what is the text about? 

What lesson can we learn from the story? 

Who is the author? These are questions to determine the theme of a text. 

Thinking out loud 

Research shows that children assimilate knowledge faster when they are being read to. So, thinking out loud is essential to improving their reading comprehension. 

When reading to your students, you should express your opinions on the text. As a result, your students will absorb ideas from the text effectively and maximize memory for comprehension.

Identifying the story structure

Students’ comprehension increases when they are taught about story structure.

By recognizing the characters, setting, events, problems, and story resolution, learners can think more critically and develop independent thought. 

3. Activating prior knowledge 

Prior knowledge is defined as knowledge that students already possess. 

This comprehension strategy help students connect their knowledge with their experience and gain a personal understanding of reading.

These are some methods to activate prior knowledge: 

Create KWL chart

A KWL (what students Know, Want to know, and Learned) chart is a specialized reading tool that stimulates students’ with graphical representations of knowledge. This provides a purpose in reading & supports comprehension strategies.

It works very well when you start an update. 

First, create a 3-column table for completing the entire course as a class. The first two columns, K and W, must be entered before finalizing the document. 

The K column is an overview of topics students know. 

The W reflects how a student looks at the subject in a particular context. Having an opportunity to discuss a topic and generate an answer in advance helps to encourage active learning.

The students will fill out what they learn in the Learned column as you cover the units.

Use analogies

Analogies aid comparison. And comparison boosts comprehension. 

To activate a learner’s background knowledge on a topic, engage them in drawing analogies with keywords from the text.

If you want them to learn about a dog’s fur, let them draw analogies of a similar thing they are familiar with, like a bird’s feather. 

Through assisted learning, they will learn new vocabularies and develop a contextual understanding. 

Cultivate meaningful conversation in turn and talk sessions

In a turn and talk session, a brief prompt is given to students to discuss material while their partner listens. 

You can give them a prompt based on what they learned in the analogies session. That way, they can quickly voice out their perceived understanding of the subject. 

It provides students with time for expressing and sharing ideas. This encourages participation in promoting thoughtful responses. 

If appropriately applied, the strategy can significantly improve the development of critical thinking skills. Tell your students what you want to discuss in this session. 

Tell students they can think critically about a topic, talk about it with a partner and share ideas with other students.

It’s important to develop questions from the text that promote high-order thinking for a successful approach.

Silent thinking

Another way to test your student’s prior knowledge of a topic is to organize a silent thinking session. Silent thinking helps them put their thoughts together about a subject before or after teaching. 

That way, they engage in self-reflection and form opinions about the subject based on their past experiences. 

Ultimately, using the prior activation method helps students develop a foundation to build new concepts.

4. Enhance metacognition with Close Reading

Metacognition stimulates the brain for efficient productivity. For example, children can actively engage in deep thinking and critical examination of an exact and complicated text through close reading. 

This may look like a complex thing, but it’s not. Children have a brain capacity twice as active as adults by 3 years. 

So, a metacognitive reading can help scaffold student learning by thinking about their thinking as they read. 

During close reading, participants read the text three times. It is done independently and concentrates solely on essential thoughts and details. 

Encourage students to use meta-cognitive marks in the margins to help maintain concentration while reading independently. This second reading will focus on textual craft, so the student listens while reading the text.

5. Encourage comprehension through visualization

Research suggests that visual representation can help students learn and remember concepts. 

Unlike reading comprehension tips for adults, visualization consists of creating a mental image for children to understand text logically and relate it to daily activities.

Students will create images that are recognizable to them from the book they have read during the visualization. 

Visualizing involves much more than simply seeing. Students who understand this method will create a memory in their minds through imagination.

Aside from graphs, images, and other multimedia, you can also stimulate visual comprehension with a jigsaw puzzle and mind mapping. 

Encourage cooperative learning with Jigsaw

Jigsaw strategies give students the chance to work collaboratively to improve communication skills. 

To implement a jigsaw strategy in your class, students must choose four text or topic categories. 

You then divide your students into 4-4 home groups. Several members must read the selected text and share the material with other homegroup members.

Improve comprehension with Mind mapping

Mind mapping requires a student to create diagrams or graphs to visualize the information being read. 

Mind maps could also have a more complex structure like an in-depth graphic planner and be more easily accessible by drawing. Objective learning assists in the development of the appropriate mind map.

6. Inferring Comprehension Strategy

Inferring is a comprehension approach that helps students comprehend information that isn’t always fully presented in a book.

In short, you use this strategy to teach them how to “read between the lines.” Instead of simply reading the text directly, students have to find out how they understand with little details. 

To do this, you can encourage the student to make assumptions about a text you have just read to them. They should be able to generate a hypothesis and also explain why it is valid based on evidence. 

The inference is a highly effective reading comprehension skill. It encourages learners to develop the ability to argue based on facts and evidence – a skill that would be instrumental for them in high school. 

7. Use Chunking to break down the difficult text

Chunking is a reading strategy that splits challenging texts into smaller sections. Divided content helps students find words that can be used for specific purposes and organize ideas. 

It may also be possible to chunk texts by varying sizes depending on complexity. In other words, text sections can be divided into paragraphs if the paragraph is complex. 

You could create chunks using several techniques, such as drawing lines between paragraphs and lines and using paper to expose the chunk and hide the rest of the text.

8. Develop Concise Summary Writing with GIST

A GIST is the main point of a text. GIST summary teaches students to write the main point of a text without extra detail. 

This technique compels them to read with purpose rather than just looking at every word. As a result, the student understands the text’s central idea and summarizes it in 10-20 words. 

9. Improve comprehension with retelling

The ability to write stories in a specific way teaches students to analyze the contents of their stories. Teachers encourage students to explore their own stories and make definite conclusions about them.

Maximize the strategy with a memory course 

The best reading comprehension strategy combines reciprocal learning, contextual understanding, visual comprehension, retelling, and close-reading. 

We have put together this memory course to maximize this strategy to help your students read and memorize essential information effectively.

At What Age is Your Brain the Sharpest? (+ 4 Tips to Sustain it Over Time)
What Is The Chunking Memory Strategy?


  • Cynthia Sowell

    Incorporating learning strategies