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Tools for Improving Reading Comprehension P. David Pearson UC Berkeley www.scienceandliteracy.org.

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1 Tools for Improving Reading Comprehension P. David Pearson UC Berkeley

2 Goals for the day  Part I  Introduce you to 10 research-based principles for teaching and fostering reading comprehension  (based on Duke, Pearson, Strachan, & Billman, 2011)  Discuss fewer (4 or 5) in greater depth  Break  Part II  QnA about Part I  Some other issues…  Close Reading  Text Complexity

3 For more information about my views of comprehension…  Duke, N., & Pearson, P.D. (2002) Effective Practices for Developing Reading Comprehension. In S. J. Samuels and A. E. Farstrup (Eds.) What research says about reading instruction (3 rd edition). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.  Duke, N., Pearson, P.D., Strachan, S. & Billman, A. (2011) Essential elements of fostering and teachng reading comprehension.. In S. J. Samuels and A. E. Farstrup (Eds.) What research says to about reading instruction (4 th edition). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.  Underwood, T., Yoo, M., & Pearson, P. D. (2007). Understanding reading comprehension in secondary schools through the lens of the four resources model, in Rush, L.S., Eakle, A.J., Berger, A. (Eds.) Secondary school literacy: What research reveals for classroom practice (pp ). Urbana IL: National Council of Teachers of English.  Shanahan, T., Callison, K., Carriere, C., Duke, N. K., Pearson, P. D., Schatschneider, C., et al. (2010). Improving reading comprehension in kindergarten through 3rd grade: A practice guide (NCEE ). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. For presentations and papers, go to

4 Survey Elementary? Secondary? College? What’s the difference

5 Elementary Teachers Love Their kids

6 Secondary Teachers Love Their subjects

7 College Teachers Love Themselves

8 Why Comprehension?  Keep our curricular wits about us?  Keep the enablers separate from the goals  Phonemic awareness may be important  But it is on the pathway to  Phonics, which may be important  But it is on the pathway to…  Word reading, which may be important  But it is on the pathway to…  Word meaning, which may be important  But it is on the pathway to…  Comprehension, which may be important  But it is on the pathway to…  Critical reasoning, which may be important  But it is on the pathway to…  Action to make our lives and democracy better

9 The Role of Enabling Skills EnablersOutcomes Paris’ termsConstrainedUnconstraine d Pearson’s terms MasteryGrowth FunctionsMeansEnds ReadingCode and text level tasks Comprehensi on & Critique WritingConventions and Craft Composition and Analysis

10 Why now?  There is a new game in town (in the US)…  Common core standards OR  New or refined state standards  Teaching for understanding…  But with high levels of accountability  More challenging curriculum for all kids  In terms of both task and text  We’ll be overturning the Basic Skills Conspiracy:  First ya’ gotta’ get the words right and the facts straight before you can do the what ifs and I wonder whats of the curriculum.  Replacing it with a Keep Your Eye on the Prize approach  Skills are enablers to keep you on the road to meaning and critique

11 So how do you design a comprehension curriculum for teachers to enact in their classrooms?  Goal  Set of Principles  Set of Practices to enact the principles For presentations and papers, go to

12 The Goal: The Active, Critical Meaning Maker Confession: My Grandson Tobias

13 From Stephen King  On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King  He got it right about building what it takes to build a model of reading  Listen as I read his words…

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17 What can we learn from Stephen King about building mental models?  That writers leave us a lot on the printed page to work with, but…  writers expect us to fill in some of the details in building a model of meaning.  That no two readers will ever build exactly the same mental model  That our models will often be similar enough to allow us to “talk about a text.” (we need to agree on the general frame not the details)*  That some text details are more important than others  Question: Whose minds meet in reading?  Reading is an inherently social activity *levels of accountability in making meaning

18 My favorite: A debunking of the idea that the meaning is solely in the text: From one of the close reading heroes of the past: Mortimer Adler— How to read a book  And that is exactly what reading a book should be: a conversation between you and the author. Presumably he knows more about the subject than you do; naturally, you'll have the proper humility as you approach him. But don't let anybody tell you that a reader is supposed to be solely on the receiving end. Understanding is a two-way operation; learning doesn't consist in being an empty receptacle. The learner has to question himself and question the teacher. He even has to argue with the teacher, once he understands what the teacher is saying. And marking a book is literally an expression of differences, or agreements of opinion, with the author.

19 Rand (2002) Definition of Reading Comprehension: The process of simultaneously extracting and constructing meaning through interaction and involvement with written language. We use the words extracting and constructing to emphasize both the importance and insufficiency of the text as a determinant of reading comprehension (Rand Reading Study Group, 2002).

20 Kintchian-derived model… 3 Knowledge Base Text 1 Text Base Says 2 Mental Model Means Inside the head Out in the world Experience Macrost ructure Microst ructure Propositions Inference

21 Since the meaning is in this reader text interface, we need to go dig it out… Query the accuracy of the text base to build up the microsructure and the macrostructure. –What is going on in this part here where it says… –What does it mean when it says… –I was confused by this part… Ascertain the situation model. –So what is going on here? –What do you know that we didn’t know before? –What can we expect to happen next or What can we expect the author to talk about next? Pedagogical implications for CI

22 New and different  Most important: A new model of the comprehension process  Text (what the author left on the page)  Text base (the version a reader creates on a veridical reading)  Knowledge (what the reader brings from prior experience)  Model of meaning for a text  Dubbed the Situation Model (mental model)  A model that accounts for all the facts and resources available in the current situation

23 What’s inside the Knowledge box?  World knowledge (everyday stuff, including social and cultural norms)  Topical knowledge (dogs and canines)  Disciplinary knowledge (how history or astronomy works)  Linguistic knowledge  Phonology  Lexical and morphological  Syntax  Genre  Pragmatics (how language works in the world): Discourse, register, academic language, intention  Orthography (how print relates to speech)

24 How does a reader build a text base? Excerpt from Chapter 8 of Hatchet

25 “Some of the quills were driven in deeper than others and they tore when they came out. He breathed deeply twice, let half of the breath out, and went back to work. Jerk, pause, jerk — and three more times before he lay back in the darkness, done. The pain filled his leg now, and with it came new waves of self-pity. Sitting alone in the dark, his leg aching, some mosquitoes finding him again, he started crying. It was all too much, just too much, and he couldn’t take it. Not the way it was.

26  The pain filled his leg now, and with it came new waves of self-pity. Sitting alone in the dark, his leg aching, some mosquitoes finding him again, he started crying. It was all too much, just too much, and he couldn’t take it. Not the way it was.

27 “I can’t take it this way, alone with no fire and in the dark, and next time it might be something worse, maybe a bear, and it wouldn’t be just quills in the leg, it would be worse. I can’t do this, he thought, again and again. I can’t. Brian pulled himself up until he was sitting upright back in the corner of the cave. He put his head down on his arms across his knees, with stiffness taking his left leg, and cried until he was cried out.”

28 Building a Text Base  “Some of the quills were driven in (into what? His leg) deeper than others (other what? Quills) and they (the quills that were driven in deeper) tore when they (the deeper-in quills) came out (of his leg). He (Brian) breathed deeply twice, let half the breath out, and went back to work (work on what? Don’t know yet. Suspense. Expect to find out in next sentence). Jerk, pause, jerk (the work is jerking quills out) — and three more times (jerking quills out) he (Brian) lay back in the darkness, done (all the quills jerked out).

29  The pain filled his (Brian’s) leg now, and with it (the pain) came new waves (what were the old waves?) of self-pity. (Brian) Sitting alone in the dark, his (Brian’s) leg aching, some mosquitoes finding him (Brian) again, he (Brian) started crying. It (the whole situation Brian was in) was all too much, just too much, and he (Brian) couldn’t take it (the situation). Not the way it (the situation) was. (What way was the situation? Don’t know yet. Suspense. Expect to find out in the next paragraph.)

30  “I (Brian) can’t take it (the situation) this way (what way? Still don’t know. Suspense), alone with no fire and in the dark (now we know “this way” means “alone with no fire and in the dark”), and next time it (the next situation) might be something worse (than this situation), maybe a bear, and it (the problem that will define the situation) wouldn’t be just quills in the leg, it (the problem) would be worse (than quills in the leg). I (Brian) can’t do this (deal with the problem situation), he (Brian) thought, again and again. I (Brian) can’t “do this (deal with the problem situation).” Brian pulled himself (Brian) up until he (Brian) was sitting upright back in the corner of the cave. He (Brian) put his (Brian’s) head down on his (Brian’s) arms across his (Brian’s) knees, with stiffness taking his (Brian’s) left leg, and cried until he (Brian) was cried out.”

31 Some key moves in building a text base…  Processing words and attaching meaning to them  Using syntax to solidify key relations among ideas  Microstructure  Macrostructure  Resolving reference--things that stand for other things (mainly pronouns and nouns)  Using logical connectives (before, after, because, so, then, when, while, but) to figure out the relations among ideas  Inferring omitted connectives (e.g., figuring out that A is the cause of B) based on PK about the world  Posing questions for short term resolution  Identifying ambiguities for later resolution (wait and see)

32 So how about building a situation model?  The knowledge-comprehension relationship  We use our knowledge to build a situation model for a text  The information in the situation model is now available to become part of our long term memory and store of knowledge  To assist in processing the next bit.

33 Situation Model for Hatchet Passage

34 The blurb from the jacket of Hatchet gives a preview of the book: Thirteen-year old Brian Robeson is on his way to visit his father when the single engine plane in which he is flying crashes. Suddenly, Brian finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker and the hatchet his mother has given him as a present — and the dreadful secret that has been tearing him apart since his parents’ divorce. But now Brian has no time for anger, self-pity or despair — it will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive.

35 What a reader knows by Chapter 8 Brian is stranded in the Canadian wilderness with a hatchet and his wits as his only tools for survival. He already has overcome several obstacles, including surviving the plane crash, building a small shelter and finding food. In chapter eight, Brian awakens in the night to realize that there is an animal in his shelter. He throws his hatchet at the animal but misses. The hatchet makes sparks when it hits the wall of the cave. Brian then feels a pain in his leg. He sees the creature scuttle out of his shelter. Brian figures out that the animal was a porcupine because there are quills in his leg.

36 Some prior knowledge that a 5th grader might bring  What sparks look like  How it feels to be scared by an animal  How big porcupines are  To survive you have to have food, water and shelter  To survive you have to be strong

37 An actual retelling of key parts of chapter 8 from Sam, a 5th grade reader  The same text for which we just examined the text base…

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40 Why is this model of iteratively constructing and integrating so important?  The mental (situation) model is central to knowledge construction  Building a mental model transforms new ideas and information into a form that can be added to memory, where they endure as knowledge that can be retrieved in the future. Unless readers build a mental model, the information they derive from the text is not likely to connect to their stored knowledge. The new information will be forgotten or lost.  Key role of knowledge:  Knowledge involved in even the most literal of processing  Knowledge begets comprehension begets knowledge…  Knowledge is available immediately: dynamic store…

41 How can we help students build solid text bases and rich and accurate situation models?  Do a good job of teaching subject matter in social studies, science, mathematics, and literature  Don’t let reading remain our curricular bully!

42 Duke, Pearson, Strachan, & Billman, 2011  Ten key practices  Can’t possibly touch on all of them today  Pre-publication copy available at and on the website for this organization.  Book available at reading.org  S. J. Samuels and A. E. Farstrup (Eds.) (2011). What research says to say about reading instruction (4 th edition). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.  Also on your website, available for download

43 Duke et al, 2011  1. Build disciplinary and world knowledge.  2. Provide exposure to a volume and range of texts.  3. Provide motivating texts and contexts for reading.  4. Teach strategies for comprehending.  5. Teach text structures.  6. Engage students in discussion.  7. Build vocabulary and language knowledge.  8. Integrate reading and writing.  9. Observe and assess.  10. Differentiate instruction.

44 NUMBER 1: Build disciplinary and world knowledge  Embedding  Principle # 8—emphasize reading-writing relationships  Principle #7—teach vocabulary and language

45 NUMBER 1: Build disciplinary and world knowledge  The dilemma we face in teaching reading  The more kids know, the better they understand.  The more time we devote to reading, the less time there is for social studies and science  The less time there is for science and social studies, the less kids learn and the less they know  The less they know, the harder it is for them to comprehend  The cost of teaching reading better cannot be teaching the disciplines worse

46 My solution: replace the vicious with the virtuous cycle  The more you know, the better you understand.  The better you understand, the more you learn.  The more you learn, the more you know.  The more you know, the better you understand.  Anon, anon, anon…

47 How to implement my solution  MORE use of expository text in CORE programs  MORE reading, writing, and language instruction in science and social studies  Starting in grade K  Reading, writing, and language as tools for acquiring more disciplinary knowledge  See for Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading NSF Project.www.scienceandliteracy.org

48 Our current view of curriculum Language Arts Mathematics Social Studies Science

49 A mo d el we like: Tools by Disciplines ScienceSocial Studies Mathe- matics Literature Reading Writing Language Academic Disciplines……….. Language Tools 

50 Weaving is even a better metaphor than a matrix math literature Social studies Science Reading Writing Language 

51 Science Writing Reading Language Social Studies Mathematics Literature

52 Integration is tough…What happens when you try to integrate reading and math?  The evolution of mathematics story problems during the last 40 years. 

53 1960's  A peasant sells a bag of potatoes for $10. His costs amount to 4/5 of his selling price. What is his profit? 

54 1970's (New Math)  A farmer exchanges a set P of potatoes with a set M of money.  The cardinality of the set M is equal to $10 and each element of M is worth $1. Draw 10 big dots representing the elements of M.  The set C of production costs is comprised of 2 big dots less than the set M.  Represent C as a subset of M and give the answer to the question: What is the cardinality of the set of profits? (Draw everything in red). 

55 1980's  A farmer sells a bag of potatoes for $10. His production costs are $8 and his profit is $2. Underline the word "potatoes" and discuss with your classmates. 

56 1990's  A kapitalist pigg undjustlee akires $2 on a sak of patatos. Analiz this tekst and sertch for erors in speling, contens, grandmar and ponctuassion, and than ekspress your vioos regardeng this metid of geting ritch. Author unknown 

57 2000's  Dan was a man.  Dan had a sack.  The sack was tan.  The sack had spuds  The spuds cost 8.  Dan got 10 for the tan sack of spuds.  How much can Dan the man have? 

58 NUMBER 8: Integrate Reading and Writing (and Talk)  How Reading Helps Writing  Lots of models for different  Text structures  Conventions of writing  Good word choice  How Writing Helps Reading  Allows us to assess our understanding via notes and summaries  Serves as a mnemonic for remembering  Engage in the same cognitive moves  Coherence in writing => main ideas/details in reading  Questioning the author => critical reading  Invented spelling => phonemic awareness

59 Why Writing Helps Reading  You can’t write without reading: the writer’s first reader.  When you write, you often seek information through reading  Writing makes the metaphor “constructing a model of meaning” completely explicit.  Writing helps us decide what we really “think” about a topic (stares back at you).  Writing makes metacognition transparent (makes monitoring visible)

60 Teach important ideas and processes in a multimodal environment  Encounter a word  Read  Write  Talk  Do  Encounter a grammatical structure  Read  Write  Talk  Do

61 Great piece on Reading-Writing Integration  Collins, J.L., & Madigan, T.P. (2010). Using writing to develop struggling learners’ higher level reading comprehension. In J.L. Collins & T.G. Gunning (Eds.), Building struggling students’ higher level literacy: Practical ideas, powerful solutions (pp. 103–124). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

62 7. Build vocabulary and language knowledge.

63 Words are Concepts RecognitionDefinitionRelationshipsContextApplicationSynthesis Habitat Habitat: the place where an organism gets the food, water, light, and shelter that it needs to survive A habitat has everything an animal needs to survive. The grassland habitat is windy with few trees. ShelterWater FoodLight DesertForest Shoreline Habitat  All living things exist within habitats and have adaptations that allow them to survive in those habitats. No one habitat can support all living organisms.. If we wish to maintain a terrarium in our classrooms, we should establish conditions that are consistent with the organisms’ natural habitats.

64 Vocabulary as conceptual networks Vocabulary as labels for our knowledge organisms are living things, such as plants and animals a habitat is where an organism lives and gets what it needs to survive adaptations are structures and behaviors that help an animal survive roots are an example of a structure which is an adaptation most roots grow in the soil where they absorb nutrients and water decomposers release nutrients into the soil plants are organisms that live in the soil decomposers are organisms that live in the soil and breakdown dead organisms

65 65 Observe Evidence Model 

66 66 Observe Evidence Model Explain Investigate 

67 67 Observe Evidence Model Explain Investigate Tools Record 

68 Principle #5: Engagement  Kids read better, write better, and learn more when they are engaged.  They are more engaged when teachers apply these principles of engaged learning  Choice/Autonomy  Self-efficacy (attributions of effort)  Interest (knowledge)  Collaboration  Curricular coherence

69 Engagement: Choice  What they read  What they write  How they represent themselves as learners  Portfolios  Choice among comprehension activities  Setting goals for learning

70 Engagement: Self Efficacy  Monitoring and calibration  Attribution to effort not ability or fate  Entails  Conscientiousness  Stamina and persistence  Can do attitude

71 Engagement: Interest  Other things being equal, kids can read a couple of grade levels higher on topics of personal interest  Distinctions  Personal interests  Situational interests  Situational leading to personal interests

72 Engagement: Collaboration  Other things being equal, students are more engaged in partner or small group work than working on their own.  Part of the portfolio of 21 st Century Skills

73 Engagement: Curricular Coherence  Relevance: Making connections to students’ lives  Cohesiveness: Connecting the parts within a unit  Transparency  Making goals and assignments clear  Ensuring necessary skills and strategies to complete tasks

74 Principle #4: Teach strategies for comprehending  What strategies do we pick?  How do we teach them?

75 Picking strategies  NRP  Duke & Pearson  Routines such as Reciprocal Teaching or Transactional Strategies Instruction  Common Core Standards  Good news  Lots of overlap  No definitive set

76 Pearson & Duke, 2002  Making predictions  Think-alouds  Using text structure  Summarizing  Question-generation  Drawing inferences

77 10 recurring standards for College and Career Readiness Show up grade after grade In more complex applications to more sophisticated texts Across the disciplines of literature, science, and social studies

78 Oklahoma State Standards…  Standard 5: Comprehension/Critical Literacy – The student will interact with the words and concepts in a text to construct an appropriate meaning.

79 From Oklahoma Standards…Grade 2  1. Literal Understanding  a. Read and comprehend both fiction and nonfiction that is appropriately designed for second grade.  b. Use prereading strategies to preview, activate prior knowledge, make predictions, use picture clues, and establish the purpose for reading (i.e., graphic organizers).  c. Ask and respond to questions to aid comprehension about important elements of fiction and nonfiction.

80 From Oklahoma Standards…  2. Inferences and Interpretation  a. Make inferences about events, characters, and ideas in fictional texts by connecting knowledge and experience to the story.  b. Support interpretations or conclusions with examples taken from the text.

81 From Oklahoma Standards…  3. Summary and Generalization  a. Retell or act out narrative text by identifying story elements and sequencing the events.  b. Produce oral or written summaries of text selections by discussing who, what, when, where, why, and how to identify the main idea and significant supporting details of a text.

82 From Oklahoma Standards…  4. Analysis and Evaluation  a. Identify cause and effect relationships in a text.  b. Make comparisons and draw conclusions based on what is read.  c. Describe character traits, changes, and relationships

83 From Oklahoma Standards…  5. Monitoring and Correction Strategies - Integrate the use of semantics, syntax, and graphophonic cues to gain meaning from the text.  Example: semantic – Does it make sense?  Example: syntax – Does it sound right?  Example: graphophonic – Does it look right?

84 My assertion:  Every one of these clusters or individual practices can be enated in a classroom under conditions of…  Automatic Enactment: Nike model: Just do it!  Strategic Enactment: Sherlock Holmes model: Examine the strategy deliberately…

85 The evidence for Strategies  Solid evidence of improvement on  specific strategies  content of the lessons  more general comprehension  Suites of strategies appear to be more effective than a string of individual strategies  It would be irresponsible not to teach them…  But…

86 A few cautions with strategies  Like phonics rules, they can become  an end unto themselves  rather than a means to an end  Strategies are to be used strategically  When comprehension breaks down  Otherwise just do it: SKILLED reading  A strategy is just a skill under deliberate rather than automatic control  Nike reading  Sherlock Holmes reading

87 Fresh Insights about Strategies  Pressley’s work in early 2000s  New papers from the Handbook of Reading Research  Most notably Wilkinson and Son  Metaphor from Pressley and Wilkinson & Son  Set of waves

88 Wave Zero  Pre 1978: What Dolores Durkin found in her classic study of comprehension instruction:  NO instruction  Assignment  Assessment  Rapid fire interrogation  Minnesota Course on Reading Pedagogy:  Comprehension is caught, not taught

89 Wave One: Single Strategy Instruction  1978-now  Identify the strategies and teach them one by one  Pearson and colleagues at CSR  Paris, Lipson, and Wixson at the U of Michigan  Mosaic of Thought (still aligned with this approach)

90 Wave Two: Multiple Strategies at Once  1984 till now  Reciprocal Teaching is the classic example  Small suite of strategies  Regular recurring until they can be applied flexibly

91 Wave Three  1990-now  Transactional Strategies  Multiple strategies organized as a flexible tool kit  haul out just the right strategy when the going gets tough

92 Wave Four: Dialogic Teaching in the context of rich discussions  Not sure when it starts…-now  Post explicit strategies approach  Questioning the author  Rich talk about text  Encounter opportunities to apply strategies on the fly  Make understanding the text at hand the real goal  Avoid decontextualized enactment of strategies  Invoke them to solve particular problems with text.

93 Wave Five: My hope for the future  Something in between explicit lessons, opportunistic teaching, and mini-lessons (ala Whole Language)  Examples should ALWAYS be authentic  Lots of group problem solving with genuinely puzzling examples

94 Wave Five: My hope for the future  Ultimate goal: Help students distinguish between  Nike reading  Just do it  Sherlock Holmes reading  Deliberate, intentional, methodical  Solving a puzzle

95 Each of these can be taught and practiced in its automatic mode: SKILLED APPLICATION Each of these can be taught and practiced in its deliberate mode: STRATEGIC ENACTMENT

96 Oklahoma State Standards for Reading  Standard 1: Phonological/Phonemic Awareness – The student will demonstrate the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate words, syllables, onsets, rimes, and individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words.  Standard 2: Phonics/Decoding – The student will apply sound-symbol relationships to decode unknown words.  Standard 3: Vocabulary – The student will develop and expand knowledge of words and word meanings to increase vocabulary.  Standard 5: Comprehension/Critical Literacy – The student will interact with the words and concepts in a text to construct an appropriate meaning.  Standard 6: Literature: The student will read to construct meaning and respond to a wide variety of literary forms.  Standard 7: Research and Information - The student will conduct research and organize information. Each of these can be taught and practiced in its automatic mode: SKILLED APPLICATION Each of these can be taught and practiced in its deliberate mode: STRATEGIC ENACTMENT

97 How we know when strategies are working…

98 A reminder: The ones I did not talk about are also important…  1. Build disciplinary and world knowledge.  2. Provide exposure to a volume and range of texts.  3. Provide motivating texts and contexts for reading.  4. Teach strategies for comprehending.  5. Teach text structures.  6. Engage students in discussion.  7. Build vocabulary and language knowledge.  8. Integrate reading and writing.  9. Observe and assess.  10. Differentiate instruction.

99 The reasons I care about the quality of public education and reading instruction that leads to creative and critical thinking PDP and Zizi PDP and Jane Toby and Jane and the Sunday paper Toby and Jane and Zizi

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