Part 2: Crucial Comprehension Skills Year 6 Students Need for High School

Are you unsure of what skills you'll need for High School English? In this post, we'll discuss the 5 crucial comprehension skills you'll need to ace Year 7 English!

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If you want to hit the ground running in Year 7, you’ll need the right skills. In this article, we’ll explain the crucial comprehension skills Year 6 students need for High School!

 

Why are comprehension skills important?

Comprehension skills are those skills where you are able to read a text, unpack its meaning and utilise the key ideas explained in the text to answer a question. Comprehension skills are essential because they are not only used in English but in all the core subjects you or, if you are a parent, your child will do in Year 7.

Comprehension skills form the foundation for senior years and can help you consistently get an A in English.

And, in addition, they help you unpack a text so you can answer the question accurately and precisely.

 

Test your child’s comprehension skills!

 

What will we discuss in this article?

We’re going to talk about:

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The transition from Primary to High School

Are you a little nervous about finishing Year 6? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Transitioning to High School can be scary!

A lot of changes will occur when transitioning from Year 6 to High School. You go from being the big fish in the little pond, to being the little fish in a big pond!

English and Maths get more difficult and about five new subjects are also added. Trying to stay on top of everything can make you lose focus on the foundations of your core subjects, especially English.

We understand the difficulty you’ll face in this transition. To make things a bit easier, we’re going to share the key comprehension skills we’ve incorporated into our English resources for Year 7 students. If you can master these in Year 6, then you’ll have a strong foundation in Year 7.

Doing it now, and staying on top it, means one less thing for you to worry about in Year 7!

 

Why do Year 6 students transitioning to Year 7 struggle with comprehension skills?

There are some common reasons why students struggle with comprehension in High School. Let’s see if any of these sound like you:

  1. Students assume that comprehension is easy
  2. They assume that comprehension doesn’t require a process of tackling – they can just go in and do it
  3. Students don’t know how to tackle comprehension
  4. Or, they constantly hear “you should have a method to answer comprehension questions” but have never been given a method to tackle comprehension.
  5. A lot of students get overwhelmed with the increased difficulty of the text.
  6. They are unsure how to relate to the text, hence find it difficult to answer the question.

This list isn’t complete, these are just some of the reasons why Year 6 students transitioning to Year 7 struggle with comprehension skills.

However, do not fear, we are here! Here are 5 techniques we teach Matrix students which you can master so you can ace your comprehension sections.

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5 Crucial Comprehension Skills Year 6 Students need for High School

 

First, let us walk you through an overview of the comprehension skills your child needs. We will then go over them in greater depth later on in the post.

  1. Reading and unpacking the question
  2. Reading the text actively
  3. Extrapolating the text
  4. Forming links- engaging with the text at a personal level
  5. Tackling the question

 

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Skill 1. Reading and unpacking the question

This is the first skill you need to master. Seems simple enough, right?

It isn’t.

This is one of the hardest skills to master.

One common blunder that teachers notice when marking answers is that students do not understand what the question actually means.

Here are our steps on how to read and unpack a question.

 

1. Always read the question before reading the text.

By doing this, you have a guideline on what you need to look out for while reading the text. Reading the question before the text can help guide your thinking process.

 

2. Read the question again, and then again!

When we read something only once, we are likely to miss something important.

By reading it twice, or more, you’ll understand it with greater depth and pick up on key things you may have missed the first time around.

 

3. Highlight keywords in the question.

Highlighting the keywords in the question will allow you to keep in mind what you need to look out for. It will also help you understand what the question is asking of you.

For example, consider-

  • Is the question asking you to list something or describe it?
  • Is it asking for no example or two examples?

Highlighting the keywords will help you such questions and trigger your thought process.

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Skill 2. Reading the text actively

When we read, it is very easy to get distracted and not pay close attention to the text.

Students will often read the text in a hurry, skim over it and not absorb the words. This is passive reading.

To do well in comprehension, a key skill that needs mastery is reading the text actively.

What is active reading?

Active reading is when you engage with the text as you read.

Why read actively?

Reading the text actively can allow you to understand the text, connect with the text and most importantly answer the question accurately.

Reading actively can save you time when trying to answer a question. Engaging with a text whilst reading means you will remember the key ideas discussed in the text.

Thus, when answering the question you will not need to re-read the text to spot the key ideas. Instead, you can just work on putting the key ideas together and forming a strong response.

Okay, so how do I actively read?

You can help your child engage in active reading by following these steps:

 

  1. Visualising

Visualise the plot, key characters and key ideas by drawing them out in your head.

Visualising allows your child to engage in active reading because they have to pay close attention to what they are reading in order to draw images in their head.

In your head, create a picture book of the text!

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2. Highlighting

Highlight keywords or ideas you come across in the text which will help you answer the question.

Do not highlight the entire text, only highlight key trigger words. Help your child be picky with the words they highlight by asking them questions.

Here are three prompts you can ask your child when they are about to highlight something in the text.

  1. Why is this important?
  2. What part of the question does it answer and how?
  3. What part of this sentence is important?

 

3. Questioning

Asking and answering questions about the text can help you engage with the text, which inadvertently allows you to partake in active reading.

As a parent, you can ask your child questions about the text. Here are some questions we recommend you ask your child (if you’re a student, you should get your folks to ask you these questions!):

  1. Why did a particular event occur?
  2. What has been the most important event so far?
  3. What do you think of this character? (referring to a particular character)
  4. How do you think this problem could have been resolved? (referring to a particular issue)
  5. What three things about the text have stood out to you? Why?

Children can zone out while reading or get the ideas all jumbled up.

By asking them questions at regular intervals you can ensure they stay engaged with the text and are constantly paying attention to what they are reading.

 

Skill 3. Extrapolating the text: summarising

You have read the question and the text. Now it is time to extrapolate the text and find meaning.

In an exam, you must do this on the fly. But you can practice this skill ebfore exams.

Get a piece of paper, a few coloured pens and start summarising.

As you get into year 7, texts can increase in complexity and have multiple ideas. Summarising the different ideas can help you better understand the text.

How?

  1. Organise events by key themes. Tables are a great way to summarise themes!
  2. Write down a list of key characters and summarise their key traits.
  3. Write down what they key message of the text is. This is what you have gained from the text.

Practising summarising key ideas is a comprehension skill which will help you in all your subjects.

Now when you’re in an exam, you want to apply these skills and make brief two or three word notes around specific points. Some things you may want to make note of are:

  • Themes
  • Characters
  • Techniques
  • The texts structure and form

Spending a few minutes (but no more than 5 minutes) making notes at the start of an exam will save you time later on when you can refer back to your initial summary.

 

Skill 4. Forming links: engaging with the text at a personal level

The best answers are those where the student has been able to form links to the text.

Again, this is a skill you need to prepare and develop before exams

As a parent, you can help your child form links to a text and engage with it personally.

How?

  1. Read the text with your child
  2. Ask them what they think about the text
  3. Ask them about character development. Go through how the main characters have changed with them.
  4. Question what they say so they are prompted to defend their position or challenge their own ideas.
  5. Work with them to connect key events from the text to the context of the time period it is set in.
  6. Help them think about how characters and ideas might be connected to their personal experiences.

Doing these 7 simple steps will help your child engage with texts at a personal level. This will strengthen their skills and help improve their responses.

Engaging with a text at a personal level is a comprehension skill that comes with practice and consistency. Mastering this skill will help your child in the senior years.

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Skill 5. Tackling the question

We have analysed the text, unpacked the question and engaged with the text. Now it is time to tackle the question.

How do you do this?

  1. In your first sentence, state the keywords mentioned in the question. This needs to be a one-sentence summary of what you have understood from the question.
  2. Answer the question directly in the next sentence.
  3. Provide an example from the text which supports your answer. Make sure the example isn’t super long and that you have identified a literary technique related to the example.
  4. Connect this example back to the question. This is where you explain how your example adds meaning to your answer. (Ask yourself: Why is this example important to my argument?)
  5. Add a closing sentence which summarises your argument and ties your response together.

In Year 6 and 7, a general rule of thumb you can use is that the number of examples you have is equal to the number of marks minus one. Once you get into the senior years of High School this will change (Year 11 and 12 students should never work off this rule of thumb!!)

Remember: doing well in comprehension isn’t a matter of luck, it is a matter of practice!

 

Want to put your new skills to the test?

Download our Comprehension Test! See if you’re ready for High School.

 

 

© Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au, 2019. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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