Reading comprehension difficulties

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by PinkLily, Jan 11, 2008.

  1. PinkLily

    PinkLily Companion

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    Jan 11, 2008

    I have a student in my class this year that reads at about grade level (I teach 3rd grade), but he is having a lot of difficulty remembering and understanding what he has read. When I ask him questions about what he has read, he always goes back to the beginning and just reads exactly what it says. When I ask him to explain what is happening in his own words, he has absolutely no idea. This is a student who has been tested in the past. The testing revealed that he is in the above-average range cognitively, but that he has concentration difficulties. I'm guessing that is why he is having trouble remembering what he is reading; he can't focus when he reads. Does anyone have any ideas how to help a child like this improve his comprehension?
     
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  3. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Jan 11, 2008

    Describe how he is reading. Is he reading silently? Aloud, but solo? Chorally? The comprehension scores in the third grade class I recently student taught went way up when I started a daily whole-class round robin reading session. I "pulled sticks" (popsicle sticks with their names on them - keeps away favorite accusations), so everyone had a chance to read. The student would read until I said "Thank You," at which point, the entire class would discuss the passage we just read. If there was something memorable in the passage, we elaborated on that. I made sure to emphasize the points I wanted the students to know for their comprehension tests, but I didn't "give" them to the kids. Occasionally, I would hand out graphic organizers or assign a journal response, but that depended upon the piece they were currently reading. Hope this helps!
     
  4. PinkLily

    PinkLily Companion

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    Jan 12, 2008

    We do guided reading together in a very small group. He seems to understand when we read a book together and when we stop to discuss what is happening throughout the book. However, as soon as he reads alone, in his head or aloud to me, he cannot retell the story or recall any details about what he just read on his own. I have noticed that he usually answers based on whatever he sees in the pictures, if there are any. When there are no pictures he is at a complete loss as to what is happening.
     
  5. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Jan 12, 2008

    I will be watching carefully, to see what suggestions more experienced posters offer! Good luck!
     
  6. 1stferg

    1stferg Comrade

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    Jan 12, 2008

    Have you tried using graphic organizers? If not then you could begin by using them in the small guided reading group. Teach the children how to fill them in as you all read together. Then, after a few weeks, encourage him to fill it in on his own as he reads silently. It's a good way to learn how to take notes too.
     
  7. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jan 12, 2008

    I have some of my students who have difficulty with comprehension or with recalling what they read use small sticky notes when they are reading. After they read a page or small section of their book, they write a few words on a sticky note about what that section was about (e.g. "bigger boys bullying", "basement floods", "lost the book") and put the sticky on the page. When they are finished, they can re-read the stickies to help them recall.

    Another thought is that if he is unable to demonstrate understanding of what he is reading independently, he needs easier material--while he can decode at grade level, he doesn't have the comprehension.
     
  8. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Jan 12, 2008

    This can be hard in a 3rd grade class, since most 3rd grade classes focus on summarizing, not retelling -- and what this child needs is retelling skills to start with.

    Work on retelling skills. The goal is to eventually have him retell the entire story (obviously, it needs to be fairly short at first) with the book closed. You have to work up to this. Use a sequence chart when reading.

    First, have him read the story without doing anything. Just read to get an idea of what the story is about.

    Then have him reread the story, using a sequence chart to write down the events as they happen. Then have him close the book and retell the story using the sequence chart.

    When he can do that, do the same thing, but this time put a post-em note over two or three of the events on the sequence chart. Have him retell the story, and include the items that are covered. Prompt him if necessay. (What happened after Golilocks sat in the baby bear's chair?).

    When he gets to the point where he can retell the story with 2 or 3 events covered, then you are ready to have him start retelling shorter stories without the graphic organizer (sequence chart).

    Eventually, he should be able to retell a short story without using the sequence chart or looking back in the book. Simple teacher prompts are fine, but mostly he should be doing it on his own.

    During this time, DON'T have him summarize or use Beginning-Middle-End charts. You want to stress retelling EVERYTHING that happened in the story, not synthesizing it.

    Hope that helps.
     
  9. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Jan 12, 2008

    Round robin reading does little to improve comprehension scores. Round robin reading is used to improve fluency, although many disagree that it even does that.

    Our school district strictly prohibits using round robin reading at any time. There are just too many studies out there showing that it is a) not effective and b) is very damaging to the self-esteem of low fluency readers.

    I personally will never use Round Robin reading, having seen the research of how damaging it is, and how little it actually improves fluency. It is a relic of bygone days. I know some teachers still use it, and will disagree, but there are just so many other choices out there.

    There are so many more effective ways to improve fluency that don't damage low reader's self esteem.

    We have had many discussions on A to Z over the years regarding the pros and cons of round robin reading. I'm not trying to start another one -- just make the point that round robin reading has never been a way to improve comprehension. It *was* once considered a good way to improve fluency, although that time is long gone.
     
  10. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Jan 12, 2008

    Sometimes kids read without a clue what they are reading to find out or RTFO. We often ask them to read then ask questions about what they just read. Consider asking the question(s) first then releasing students to find the answer -- "Read to find this answer: What are two things Ralph does on page 15 that tell you he is happy?" A spin-off of this might be, "Class, there are several things on page 15 which tell you Ralph is happy. When you come across the first word or phrase which tell you this write it on your paper. I will come around to check."

    A mildly confused and not so confident reader may experience performance anxiety when trying to perform in front of teacher and/or peers. While discussing reading with group teacher might, "Sammy, I want you to find out what color the fisherman's shirt is on page 15. Do that and I'll come back to you." Teacher continues discussion keeping one eye on Sammy. This gives Sammy a RTFO and time to find it plus does not let him off the hook with "I dunno."
     
  11. PinkLily

    PinkLily Companion

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    Jan 13, 2008

    Thanks for all the replies. I am definitely going to try some of the ideas suggested. I especially like the 'read to find out' strategy. I also plan on tyring the sticky notes, the graphic organizers and the sequence chart; however, not all at once. Would anyone have a graphic organizer or a sequence chart that they would be willing to share with me?
     
  12. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Jan 13, 2008

  13. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Jan 13, 2008

    I don't teach reading so I'm not the best person to answer but....


    Have you tried asking a question and when he goes back to the beginning and starts reading stop him and ask him if the answer is some off the wall comical answer (instead of the real one). I've seen students who are not confident to give answers but when breaking through their broken record cycle they ARE able to give an answer. The comical answer gives them a basis of where to start (what you are asking) and relaxes them so they can give an answer they are capable of giving. I've done this with writing and sometimes I have to do this more than once but the students get the hang of it. Just an idea.
     
  14. buck8teacher

    buck8teacher Devotee

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    Jan 19, 2008

    Does your school have the Specific Skill Series? They are reading comprehension interventions. There are a series of placement tests comprehension skills. The test then tell you what book to begin with. One of my students does a daily comprehension intervention with an EA. Hope this helps!

    Scholastic also has a book series of passages with GOs designed to build comprehension, maybe starting with smaller passages might work for him.
     
  15. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Jan 20, 2008

    visualization

    The Into the Book site has great videos to teach you how to teach students to do this. The student you describe is just word calling. He's not actively involved in the text. Stopping to explain a picture you've formed in your head of what you've read is one way to deal with it.
     

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