Presentation on theme: "Make Reading Count. Why teach comprehension? The ability to read words is necessary for comprehension, but not sufficient Comprehension uses complicated."— Presentation transcript:
Make Reading Count
Why teach comprehension? The ability to read words is necessary for comprehension, but not sufficient Comprehension uses complicated cognitive processes that take time and practice Teaching words alone is not enough!
Text Model External building materials Text Pictures Internal building materials Background knowledge Word knowledge Comprehension strategies Comprehension is an interactive process of building understanding Building a structure for comprehension
Comprehension breakdowns Breakdowns in comprehension happen when: background knowledge is inconsistent with author’s expectation vocabulary knowledge is inconsistent with author’s expectation child has limited knowledge of English language child has few strategies to make processes work together Good News: Each breakdown area can be taught! How stories work How to make inferences Strategies to build on text model
How to teach comprehension Name strategies Teach kids when and where to use them Inappropriate use of strategies are a waste of cognitive energy Goal: Help kids develop a text model Start early! Kindergarteners can learn to use text information to understand what they read
PICTURE acronym Predict – guess what will happen next Imagine – visualize, create a mental image Clarify – make sure your text model makes sense Try – ask yourself ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions Use – use what you know, background knowledge Review – summarize during and after reading Evaluate – Did this text meet my purposes? How is it connected to other texts? A tool to remember comprehension strategies
Comprehension-focused classroom Lots of language talking as well as reading conversations about books Teachers model thinking ask questions as they read encourage questions from students High quality literature complex books and characters You can’t teach comprehension quietly!
Connecting across grade levels PICTURE acronym can be applied to all different age groups CORE program materials offers strategies for use across grades
4 th Grade challenge Text is more complex and demanding Kids are reading in areas with little background knowledge Reading to build background knowledge May have word recognition problems or fluency problems Why do comprehension scores decrease after 4 th grade?
What can elementary teachers do? Make sure kids can decode easily and well Give kids practice so they can read fluently Support development of: Vocabulary Concept knowledge Comprehension strategies Provide chances to interact with teachers, text, and peers
Assessment Ask questions! Ask child to tell you what they understood from the text Children with dyslexia Assessment covers a spectrum of language skills, from decoding to comprehension Dyslexics generally have higher vocabulary and comprehension ability than decoding ability
Video: Understanding Themes Community School 200, Harlem, NY Theme Scheme Focuses on underlying theme of story Helps kids understand messages, lessons Relates themes to other stories and real life
Helping kids make connections Build coherent representation Connect parts of text Ask kids how pieces of information fit together Read, then talk about it Ask “How does that connect with what we read before?”
Vocabulary and comprehension Teach little kids big words Allow kids to practice reading words they already know and words they don’t know (literary words) Kids learn literary words from books, not from everyday conversation – even in highly educated households Make words the focus of instructional time everyday Explaining a definition is not enough Discuss good and better examples of uses of a sophisticated word (example: “reluctant”) Teaching vocabulary for literacy
Which words do you teach first? No hierarchy for word knowledge Kids can learn complex words early on One rule: Must be able to explain word using concrete, simple terms
Ramifications of low vocabulary Knowledge of word meaning and comprehension is almost the same thing If you have a good vocabulary, you will likely be good at comprehension Solutions: Teach big words to little kids Keep kids engaged with good literature and inspired teaching
Children with learning disabilities Take instruction to a sensory level Help child experience the word through imagery Create a picture of the word’s meaning
Video: Students Take Charge Frank Love Elementary School, Seattle, WA Reciprocal Teaching Prepares kids to run discussions, taking turns as leaders Ask questions, generate a good discussion Summarize, find the main idea Predict outcomes
Importance of mental images Good readers “make movies” in their heads when they read Dual coding theory: reading involves interpreting verbal and nonverbal codes Interplay between verbal and nonverbal codes gives text meaning Individual differences alter ability to get meaning from text Weak decoders have difficulty with verbal code Weak comprehenders have difficulty with nonverbal code
How can teachers improve mental imagery? Start with mental image of word, then a phrase, then a sentence Help kids connect images into a connected whole, not just separate images Harder for kids with weak vocabulary Research base: National Reading Panel Report of 2000 cited mental imagery as helpful
Mental imagery for ELLs Research project in Pueblo, Colorado 25,000 children Low socioeconomic status High percent minority Low-achieving on state tests After 8 years of lessons on imagery and verbal processes, Pueblo out-performed the state
Characteristics of successful schools For comprehension: Large capacity for collaboration; opportunity for teachers to work together to discuss and practice techniques For vocabulary: Willingness to go beyond traditional “look it up and write a sentence” approach to teaching vocabulary Introduces hard words in interesting ways
Impact of federal funding Reading First money brings new resources to low SES schools Commercial reading programs that define and highlight comprehension strategies Classroom libraries – better books! Institute for Educational Sciences supports research in comprehension
Using writing to improve comprehension Writing is an extension of reading Expression is a way to interact with text Utilizes vocabulary, decoding, and mental imagery Students’ writing should create a mental image for reader Demands use of adjectives ‘Structure words’ to make writing richer
Teaching comprehension to ELLs Define issues English labels for words they know in native language? Difficulty with everyday conversation in new language? Opportunity to teach older kids (4 th grade +) sophisticated words – ELL and native English speakers Same teaching methods, some unique challenges
What can we learn from brain studies? Studies are starting to focus on reading comprehension Recent fMRI studies show that parts of the brain relate to mental imagery Hyperlexia: flip side of dyslexia Have strong decoding skills and weak comprehension Often on the autism spectrum Autism Studies show autistic children may be able to read individual words, but have difficulty accessing neural connectors to understand what they read
Comprehension assessment Difficult to test whether kids have built a text model Likely to underestimate comprehension of novice writers and spellers when evaluated in written form Written test is an important way, but not the only way Does written evaluation show what kids understand?
What can parents do? Volunteer Read to children and talk about what’s going on, ask questions
Final thoughts Nanci Bell: Comprehension is now getting attention it deserves Hopeful that we will find new information about sensory components of comprehension Sharon Walpole: Both decoding and comprehension are critically important to reading Both can be taught Isabel Beck: Use big words!
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