Basic Reading Recipes

Basic Reading Recipes

These tried and true lesson activities will help you get your students to read and communicate in English. The recipes work with most teaching scenarios and situations. Just modify the basic recipe with your own basic ingredients (age, level, topic).

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Pre–Reading Recipes

Before reading, students need to do pre-reading activities in order to prepare for the reading and activate schema, knowledge of the subject and language plus get motivated to want to read the text. It’s not sufficient to merely tell students about what they are going to read. Students need to use their own minds to engage with the topic and the text to be read.

1. Graphic Organizers
A graphic organizer is an organizer that helps students categorize and list their knowledge.
Suggested Level: B1 and above
Ingredients: printable graphic organizer

There are many types of graphic organizers that might be suitable as a pre-reading activity. Here are a few common ones.
1. KWL Chart. Students brainstorm what they know about the topic or reading. Students note what they Want to know. Finally, after the reading, students reflect and write down what they found out.
2. Venn Diagram. Students compare two different topics related to the text or story. They detail what they have in common and what is different about them.
3. List. Group. Label. Perfect to prepare for the vocabulary students might encounter in the reading. Select a main topic for the reading. Students LIST all the words related to the topic. Next, students GROUP the words into categories. Finally, students LABEL the groups of words. * this activity also can be used as a post-reading activity.
Chef’s Tip: You don’t need to photocopy many of the graphic organizers. Just provide a blank sheet of paper to the students and let them draw it from your copy on the board or screen.
Serves: making inferences, predictions, question making
2. Short Video Watching
These days, teachers can access many videos related to a reading topic. These short videos help students prepare and review the language they’ll encounter while reading.
Suggested Level: B1 and above
Ingredients: short video (under 3 minutes long is perfect). Discussion or comprehension questions. For books, video book reviews work well!
Activity: Chose a video related to the reading. Watch the video once completely as a class. Next, watch again and pause, asking students discussion or comprehension questions.
Chef’s Tip: After watching the video, it is very powerful to ask students to write down questions about what more they want to know about the topic.
Serves: technology, question making, vocabulary

3. Previewing & Pre-teaching Activities
Previewing activities are those where students are guided through the text by teachers in advance of reading. Pre-teaching activities involve explicit teaching of concepts, vocabulary and grammar to be encountered in the reading.
Suggested Level: B1 and above
Ingredients: whole class, reading passage or book.
Activities: Provide each student with a copy of the text.
Previewing: The teacher asks students about the cover page, the title, the author, pictures and headings in the text. Students gain familiarity with the organization of the writing and the content.
Ask students to scan the text and find information. Ask students to skim the text and come up with the main idea or gist of the reading.
Pre-teaching: Teachers choose some vocabulary or grammar that will be difficult for students. Teach and do exercises to assure student understanding.
Chef’s Tip: Previewing is a skill that a teacher develops over time. Prepare a list of text features and related questions that you want to prompt students with.
Serves: print awareness, background knowledge, teacher-directed

4. Prompts
A teacher can prompt students about the reading topic. It’s a quick way to get ready for the actual reading!
Suggested Level: B1 and above
Ingredients: small groups or whole class
Question Prompts: Create a discussion about the reading topic. Prepare some questions about the topic or 4-5 “For or Against” statements. Have students discuss.
Quotation Prompts: Get some quotations related to the topic or from the reading. What do they mean? Do students agree with them? Why/Why not?
Word Prompts: Write 5 or 6 words from the text on the board and asks the students to guess what the topic is and how they are connected.
Picture Prompts: Show the students some pictures or objects which are connected to the reading and ask the students to guess what the reading is about.
Chef’s Tip: With higher-level classes, discussion works well. Lower levels – word and picture prompts.
Serves: speaking, schema, making connections

During Reading

Activities during reading can range from just allowing students to enjoy and read (Extensive Reading) to activities where they gather information, organize information, confirm predictions and think about what they are reading.

5. Free Voluntary Reading
Research suggests that when students read what they enjoy, they acquire language and make rapid gains in reading fluency. There is a strong positive relationship between the amount of free voluntary reading a student does and their corresponding overall English fluency (Krashen, 1993).
Suggested Level: A2 and above
Ingredients: individual
Activity: Provide students access to leveled readers, stories, books, eReaders. Oxford and Penguin have sets of leveled readers. You might also provide authentic reading materials like magazines, comics, newspapers, brochures and others.Students choose what they want to read and read in class for a set amount of time. Many classes practice DEAR – Drop Everything And Read. Students will also benefit from “narrow reading”, reading materials only from one specific author or genre.
Chef’s Tip: The teacher should act as an intermediary and help the students find books at their right level. A good rule of thumb – the 3 finger rule. Students read a page and each time raise a finger for a word they don’t know. If they raise more than 3 fingers, the book or material is too high a level.
Serves: extensive reading, reading for pleasure, narrow reading

6. Beginning To Read
Beginning readers need to make the sound–symbol connection and improve their phonemic awareness. Teachers should spend time allowing students to see how spelling is related to sound.
Suggested Levels: A1 and A2
Ingredients: phonics materials, related worksheets, picture books
Activity: There are many ways to model reading and get students to see how sounds are related to symbols (text). They range from phonics-related activities to whole language activities. Here are a few for beginning readers.
Read Alouds. Chose a picture book that will be of interest to your students. Read the book to students in a reading area (if possible different from where the students usually sit). Stop during the reading and check understanding, ask students to predict what will happen next, etc …. Repetitive readers, books where the language repeats during the reading (Example. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See – Eric Carle).
Choral Reading. Similar to read-alouds but all the students have a copy of the reading text and follow along as the teacher or strong reader reads the text. Get students to follow the reading with their fingers. After, reread the text together with all students read out loud together.
Word Recognition. Phonics. Students match words to pictures and pronounce the words. Students can also complete the spelling of words to show they understand how to decode text. Also rhyming activities like Rhyme Time. Also, use phonics flashcard sets where students put pictures or words into the correct word family.
Guided Reading. Students read text where more difficult words are represented with pictures.  Also, students may read text where some words are missing and they predict the text and finish the sentence.
Chef’s Tip: try to keep these activities simple and fun. It can be frustrating for beginning readers and best to provide them with success and a good feeling.
Serves: phonemic awareness, modifications, beginners, learning to read

7. Webquests
Webquests activate student reading skills, especially their digital literacy and scanning skills.
Suggested Level: B2 and above
Ingredients: individuals, pairs. Webquest activity sheet
Activity: Provide students with a webquest handout. Set a time limit to complete the activity. Students browse the internet to record and find answers to the questions on the worksheet. Once most students have completed the webquest, take up the answers together.
Chef’s Tip: If your students finish much earlier than others, have some extra work for them to do.
Serves: internet, digital literacy, scanning, reading to learn

Post – Reading

8. Literature Circles
Literature circles get students responding to what they have read and making connections between fiction and their own lives.
Suggested Level: C1 and above
Ingredients: Small group.
Activity: Assign students to groups based on their reading level. Assign a role to each group member (Thinker, summarizer, director etc. …) Each group chooses a book to read. Each class group members read independently and then meet back to discuss their day’s reading and complete tasks. You will find many literature circle-related task materials online but also try these “reading response” questions.
Chef’s Tip: Book choice is critical and help student groups to choose the right book by providing a list if possible. Monitor during the activities and guide student discussions.
Serves: fluency, critical thinking, discussion, making connections

9. Comprehension Questions
This is a standard post-reading activity. Students read the text individually and then show their understanding by completing comprehension questions and responding with understanding to the text.
Suggested Level: A2 and above
Ingredients: individuals
Directions: Provide each student with a copy of the story and questions. Students read the story silently (or you can read as a group). After, students complete the comprehension questions and take up the answers.
Chef’s Tip: Rewrite questions in simpler language for lower-level students. Or get the students to write their own sets of questions. Also, challenge students to write their own comprehension questions and quiz after!
Serves: comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, reading to learn
10. Story Sharing & Retelling
Retelling is a great activity to help students both read and practice the language that they encountered in the story.
Suggested Level: B1 and above
Ingredients: individual, small groups
Activity: Provide students with a short story or text. These work well. Even better if it has a funny or suspenseful ending. Each student reads their story and tries to understand it. Next, make groups and have the students read their stories to their group. Students can stop and ask group members to predict what will happen next. After all group members have read their story, make new groups. Students again share their story with new students but this time try and not read but retell the story. After, ask students which was the best story they heard – have a stronger student retell the story.
Chef’s Tip: You can easily model this activity by asking a few students to wait outside the class while you read the story to the rest of the class. When the students return, take turns retelling the story to the students who didn’t hear the story.
Serves: stories, speaking, comprehension, reading aloud

11. SQ3R
You may also use graphic organizers after reading. The SQ3R organizer is one such activity. It is a proven aide to text comprehension. Survey, question, read, recite, and review.
Suggested Level: B2 and above
Ingredients: individuals or pairs. Non-fiction reading or textbook.
Activity: Provide all students with an S3QR handout. Prior to reading, students survey (preview) the text and also record questions about what they will learn. After reading, students “recite” and try to recall the answers to their questions. Finally, students “review” all that they have learned.
Chef’s Tip: Do the graphic organizer together as a class the first time you do the activity.
Serves: comprehension, academic reading, reading to learn

Author: admin
A valued Teaching Recipes staff member. Here to help teachers with their cooking.