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Unpacking comprehension with English Stars

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Unpacking comprehension with English Stars

English Stars 11/8/21


Through comprehension lessons, students learn how to understand and interpret a range of texts. English Stars comprehension modules include a variety of popular and bespoke texts that expose students to different text types. Let’s unpack the key components of an effective comprehension lesson.

Build background knowledge in your warm-up

Before diving into the text, prompt students to explore and share their background knowledge with one another. This ensures they are all on the same page before they begin the comprehension lesson.

The warm-up activities featured in many of the English Stars comprehension modules prompt students to think about the themes within the upcoming text. For example, before reading the English Stars Year 5 text extract from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, project the warm-up slideshow and ask students:

  • Have you ever had a dream where you could do something impossible?
  • Do you know any stories that contain events that couldn’t happen in the real world?
Use artwork to stimulate discussion

Images that accompany texts can make a great discussion prompt to further consolidate background knowledge. Images are also great a great stimulus to facilitate verbal reasoning and prompt vocabulary that students may encounter in the text.

Each English Stars comprehension module includes a bespoke artwork that leads into the text and accompanying questions to stimulate discussion. For example, before reading the English Stars Year 5 text extract from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, project the artwork and ask students:

  • After examining Alice’s facial expression and body language, how would you describe her feelings about her current situation?
  • How old do you think Alice might be?
  • Why has the illustrator drawn Alice so much bigger than the rabbit?

Read the comprehension text as a class

The comprehension texts in English Stars expose students to different text types including narrative, persuasive, informative and more. Each text is either in written, video or audio form.

After the warm-ups, it’s time to read the text (or listen to the audio/video) to spark discussion, encourage students to ask questions and check their understanding before they begin working through the activity questions independently. As English Stars comprehension texts align with the featured texts students study in other English Stars modules, it’s also a great opportunity to point out some of the key components of the text type.

Every written comprehension text in English Stars is available in both projectable and printable formats. Use the projectable version to unpack and discuss the text as a class, while students use the printable version as a reference while they answer the activity questions.

Planning tip: Take look at the Text Reference Sheet for your year level to see which texts are studied throughout the year (this handy reference sheet outlines texts used for all module types in English Stars, not just comprehension modules).

Provide carefully crafted questions

Provide students with questions that scaffold their understanding of the text, starting with simple details and ideas, then building students up to make connections and inferences about the text. To do this, use literal, inferential and applied questions.

  • Literal questions allow students to demonstrate their understanding of the explicit events or facts that feature in a text.

  • Inferential questions require students to think more deeply about a text and the inferences that can logically be made using contextual clues.

  • Applied questions ask students to use higher-order thinking skills and draw upon their own experiences to evaluate a text.

Use the ready-made literal, inferential and applied questions within the English Stars comprehension modules to help students achieve this deeper understanding. Choose whether students complete these questions online (with automatic marking) or offline using the printable worksheets.

Try an English Stars comprehension module for yourself

If you’re not yet using English Stars, download these English Stars comprehension activities and use them in your classroom straight away!

Year 3 - Kangaroo and Hermit Crab
Year 4 - Buderim
Year 5 - Don’t Waste Water
Year 6 - My Girragundji

To get the most out of these comprehension activities, sign up for a free trial of English Stars so you can use the associated teaching resources, including a teaching plan, warm-up activities and bespoke artwork. While you’re there, check out the other modules that cover text types and grammar.

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