Quick Tip to Strengthen Reading Comprehension Strategies for Upper Elementary

Quick Tip to Strengthen Reading Comprehension in the Upper Elementary Classroom

Multiple-choice questions are not my thing.


Before Connecticut shifted to SBAC testing, teachers wrote the yearly state exams. I was on a team that wrote 3rd-grade reading tests. This included the passages and the questions. So much professional development and non-disclosure agreements went into the multi-day training we were provided to be certified to write those exams. 

The entire process was extremely eye-opening and helped me learn a lot about what makes a good and fair assessment for students. After all that training, I stopped using multiple-choice questions to assess students in my classroom.

There is a time and place for multiple choice questions. But on a daily basis, when we read stories and passages, I do not use multiple-choice questions as a form of assessment. 

If you have any of the reading packs from my shop, you know that there are no multiple-choice questions. In fact, I often get asked why there are no multiple-choice questions...well, it is just not something I put a lot of value into when assessing students.

Multiple choice for test prep? Absolutely! I do use multiple choice questions for test prep so that students know good test-taking strategies, but I do not like to use them with daily reading activities. There are better options to use as teachers to get a pulse of students' understanding of what was read. The more you say no to multiple-choice, and yes to open ended tasks you give students as they read, the less test prep you will need to do! This is because the students have learned how to think as they read and develop good reading habits.



active reading tip for 3rd 4th 5th graders


I do not like using multiple-choice questions because...

πŸ‘Ž they try to measure too many objectives or not the right objectives in each question stem
πŸ‘Ž negatives in the question stem and "funny" choice options confuse students
πŸ‘Ž it is a guessing game that does not tell me if students know the correct answer or guessed the correct answer

Instead, I use...

πŸ‘ specific tasks that have students highlighting the answer in the text
πŸ‘ short answer and open-ended response questions that value text evidence and student-reflective opinions
πŸ‘ classroom discussions around multiple-choice style questions without the choices. 


reading annotation guide for 3rd 4th 5th graders



If you want to begin to shift away from using multiple choice questions, try these simple annotation tips to get started. These tips can be used with any text and no fancy tools or resources are needed. 

Simply write these annotation tasks at the board and have students work!

Circle a new vocabulary word you learned and write your own meaning in the margin.
Underline a part of the text you found interesting and want to share with the class. 
Highlight a part of the text that made you ask a question. Write the question in the margin and a possible answer.

By encouraging students to be active readers who engage with the materials that they read rather than have them focus on picking (or guessing) an answer in a multiple choice question, their reading comprehension will strengthen. 

You can get started today using ANY book, poem, or passage that you have on hand. Simply teach students how to annotate using the suggestions above or your own, and watch them become more engaged and develop their comprehension.

Grab the FREE annotation chart and reading passage below to get started!





Looking for more reading comprehension passages and activities? Look HERE!

active reading tip using nonfiction reading passages







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Quick Tip to Strengthen Reading Comprehension in the Upper Elementary Classroom














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