Reading Comprehension Games for Middle School

Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

Need to bring some excitement into your classroom? Don't know how to make reading fun? This lesson describes several ideas for games to help exercise reading comprehension skills.

Reading Comprehension

Charles Dickens. Ernest Hemingway. Shakespeare. As a reading teacher, those names bring up enjoyable pastimes or absorbing intellectual debates. . . fond memories for people who live to read. Unfortunately, many of our middle school students don't view reading with the same fondness.

So, the question remains, how do we bring some sort of excitement to our classroom reading? Even more importantly, how do we ensure that excitement promotes reading comprehension, or the capacity to read and process a text in order to understand its meaning? Let's face it, we can play games all day long, but if the students are not flexing their intellectual muscles, no learning is taking place. The rest of this lesson describes games you can use in your classroom not only to bring the excitement to your class, but also to foster specific reading comprehension skills.

Drawing Inferences

Our first reading skill is drawing an inference, which is a conclusion drawn based on evidence or reasoning. Inferences require a very abstract type of thinking, which makes them very difficult for students in middle school to comprehend. At this age, most students want to see ideas stated plainly, clear as day. However, to make an inference they must use what is not stated.

So how can inferences become a game? You will likely want to use an inference game for a novel unit with plenty of available points to draw an inference. Before the game, find those points and make a list of them, including the page numbers and any hints you want to give.

In teams, pairs or individually, give students the list. Set a time limit for students to use the novel and the list to try to figure out a logical inference for each spot on your list. Correct answers will earn points. Teams with the most points can earn prizes or simply bragging rights. The rewards won't matter as much, as long as students are sharing appropriate inferences based on the text.

Cause and Effect

Another important comprehension skill is identifying cause and effect. Cause is the event or action that leads to some result or consequence. The effect is that result or consequence. Instead of having your students list causes and effects, use a game where they challenge their fellow students. In teams or pairs, have your students search a text for causes and the corresponding effects. It's best to give a specific amount they must find.

Once these lists are made, each team takes a turn to challenge the others. Start with a round for the causes. Each team will read a cause, and the other teams must name the effect. Then do a round with the effects, and teams must name the cause. Keep track of the correct points to see who wins.

Making Predictions

Next, let's look at the skill of making a prediction, or a statement about what might happen in the future. Students love making predictions; mostly because they get a chance to be creative with the text. Predictions can easily turn into a fun game by using some sort of prediction chart kept in your classroom.

Here's how to play. At the end of each chapter or a stopping point in the reading, ask each student to make a logical prediction. Share them in class and try to narrow it down to a few choices to write up on the board. Then, vote as a class on the best one. Whichever one wins will be written on the prediction chart. After the class reads the next chapter, revisit the prediction. Keep track of how many times the class voted accurately. If the class gets a certain number correct by the end of the novel, throw them a prediction party. One fun afternoon is a small price to pay for the effort they will put into thinking logically about their predictions.

Sequence of Events

A final reading comprehension skill is interpreting the sequence of events, or the order in which events in the text occur. For works of fiction, these events take the form of the plot. For nonfiction, the structure of the piece will determine the sequence of events.

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