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4 Sample Reading Comprehension Passages for Middle School

Reading comprehension passages in middle school are an important part of language arts curriculum. The middle school years are the time when reading skills have to be solidified, and students have to learn to approach written material in a sequenced, logical manner. Once the student reaches high school, reading skills across the curriculum will be both needed and tested. Standardized tests place central focus on reading comprehension, and these tests have urgent importance for high school students planning to continue their education.

Below are four samples of reading comprehension passages, showing various approaches to teaching the necessary skills:

This passage on red kangaroos is at the 6th-grade level and is an excellent example of reading comprehension curriculum because it has a wide variety of questions following the passage. One of the questions asks the students to make a “graphic organizer,” in which they have to write three separate ideas in three circles, all connected to the unifying idea in the central circle. For students who respond best to information presented in spatial fashion, this will demonstrate how they can use such organizing tactics in the future to analyze the structure of a written passage.

This exercise is based on an entire short story by Langston Hughes, and is targeted at the 7th-grade reading level. It’s an excellent sample for students of this age because it brings them into the literary world, using actual high-quality fiction as the basis for learning. More sophisticated than the red kangaroo passage, this short story raises important ethical issues which will interest students as they work with answering the questions. Some of the questions for the students in this lesson plan cover vocabulary and grammar, and other questions center on a discussion exercise led by the teacher. 

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These days, any discussion of reading comprehension is not complete without taking into account those students who don’t speak English as their first language. The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is the most globally respected test for older students seeking to demonstrate their English ability, and it now exists in a middle school Junior version. Even if your students don’t plan to take the actual TOEFL Junior test itself, its sample reading comprehension exercises at the TOEFL website are the gold standard for highest-quality testing materials. These sample materials will give students practice at reading and articulating the contents of quantitative materials such as charts and graphs, as well as various excerpts of text.

Finally, this newspaper reading comprehension exercise contains its own excerpts, so teachers won’t have to worry about archiving problems with actual newspaper content. This lesson has value for several reasons: As students prepare for high school, they will need to become familiar with extracting and analyzing content from real news sources. The questions that the students are required to consider at the beginning of the lesson are centered on journalism and the method it uses to deliver information. Even though many news sources now are transitioning to online publishing, the classic “who, what, when, where, how” structure is crucial for students to know. Journalism is a special type of writing that deserves attention, and this lesson plan does a beautiful job of presenting it.

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