Effective Teaching Strategies for Prose

Student reading book while leaning against a tree.
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Objectives of teaching prose in a classroom include guiding students to better comprehension and engagement with texts. author often aims to evoke emotions or ideas that require input from readers’ own experiences for comprehension to take place. Because writers of prose may not explicitly state a purpose, understanding this kind of writing compels readers to think imaginatively, working to establish a personal connection with what they read. Teachers of prose work to develop the reader as a whole by helping to shape not only better readers, but also better overall thinkers.

1 Prose Teaching Strategies

Effective prose teaching strategies may call for breaking a longer piece of prose up into smaller sections. This separation of text allows for multiple close readings to ensure students involve their own thinking in the text as they read Repeated reading helps students build comprehension and become more comfortable with an author’s writing style. To help students focus as they read prose, teachers provide a list of questions for students to answer. Ask some surface-level questions that explicitly tie back to the reading as well as higher-level questions that may be more open-ended. Asking questions that don’t have a single correct answer sparks meaningful discussions and invites student perspectives on the text.

2 Prose Small Group Discussions

Methods of teaching prose can also include facilitating class discussions where students share their own unique thoughts about the reading. Tuning out as the teacher lectures about prose can often be rectified with a class discussion that puts the responsibility for learning back in the students’ hands. To ensure that all students participate, breaking the class into small groups helps in discussing challenging questions. At the end of the small group discussions, reconvene the whole class and have a member from each group report that group’s conclusions while inviting feedback from other groups. The entire class benefits from hearing multiple perspectives in a class discussion that involves a lesson plan for teaching English prose.

3 Create Found Poems From Prose

Prose teaching strategies can also include creating "found poems". Teachers encourage creative thinking while also targeting comprehension skills by having students create "found poems" based on prose they have already read. Provide students with a passage of prose and have them highlight between 50 and 100 words or phrases that are the most interesting or meaningful to them. Next, students list the highlighted words in order on a separate piece of paper, skipping lines between each word. Walk students through the process of rereading their lists several times, eliminating words that do not fit with the poem until between 25 and 50 of the most important words remain. Have students title their poems and present them to their peers.

4 The Five-S Prose Strategy

Teach students to analyze prose passages by introducing the Five-S strategy. After giving students a prose passage, offer them a graphic organizer with the headings “speaker,” “situation,” “sentences,” “shifts” and “syntax.” Guide students through the process of recording their observations and interpretations for each heading of the graphic organizer, using evidence from the prose for support. For example, in the “syntax” section, students would record examples from the reading in which the word order seemed interesting or significant. After the example, urge students to comment on how the syntax affected the overall meaning of the passage.

Anne Post has experience teaching in both public and private school settings, as well as several early childhood programs. Post holds a Bachelor of Science in education from the State University of New York at Geneseo with expertise in both childhood education and special education.