Teaching Reading Comprehension

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Pashtun, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Feb 13, 2014

    How do you teach reading comprehension?

    What does your day look like when teaching students to read and analyze literature?

    Do you use writing to support reading comprehension?

    Vocabulary instruction?...etc

    I am looking to overhaul how I teach reading comprehension/analysis in my 4th grade classroom, as I don't think that I am doing as good a job as I can, and am looking for ideas from others. How do you move students, who are engaged, hard working students, to higher reading levels?
     
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  3. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Feb 13, 2014

    This is the way I structure it - but keep in mind I'm only about 2-3 months into my first non-student-teaching teaching experience (other than day-to-day subbing). It was changed from what I initially did based on discussions with our literacy coaches in our district:

    Whole group comprehension lesson (10 minutes, the same for about 2 weeks...i.e. inferencing, main idea/supporting details, etc...)
    2 small groups (20 minutes each, or so) each day, working on various comprehension skills. The 4 higher groups I meet with only once a week, the lowest group I meet with daily. The lowest group does almost all the comprehension work with me so I can guide them through it...the others have it modeled, try it together with me, then work on that strategy with their non-fiction text throughout the week independently until I meet with them next. I will generally have opportunities to check in with those students to make sure they're on track / to provide support. I structure the texts so that each group has enough of a challenge but can still access the text...the highest group the next couple weeks, since I know they are all good with the strategy we are working on, are being asked to do a research project connected to the book they are reading.

    While meeting with the small groups, the rest of the students are doing their choice of independent reading (of a novel - I don't allow comics / reference books during this time, as it generally is more skimming/picture looking otherwise), small group work (reading the non-fiction text and doing the comprehension practice), or doing writing responses (I ask them to do one quick written response to their independent reading and one to our read aloud book each week...and I try to connect it to a comprehension strategy we've been working on...for example, this week they're being asked to make one inference in the story they are reading).

    Sorry to ramble! :) Basically, though, to answer your last question, I would say to make sure to give them enough of a challenge both in the text that they are reading along with what you are asking them to do (they'll get bored if they're working on strategies they already know!).
     
  4. AliLand

    AliLand Rookie

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    Feb 15, 2014

    It depends why they are reading. Are they looking for specific information - then identifying key words is most helpful. Are they reading for general understanding - standard comprehension questions seem best. Are they reading to improve skills - then I get them to explain reference words and find synonyms. Are they reading for enjoyment - then I prefer situational questions (if you were that character, how would you have done it/ felt). I find it useful to discuss with the class why we are reading before each task. When reading for enjoyment, I give a lot of choice to the kids how they prefer to follow up - some weaker readers benefit from making short story board summaries. Studious types make a book review. Those who enjoy a challenge rewrite sections in their own style. Occasionally, lively social types get together to act out scenes. Provided all students get the opportunity to prove to you they have understood, its all OK - and hopefully, they will see books as fun. When reading together as a class, take the time to really prepare, have lots of questions ready and (hopefully without them noticing) aim to have each student answer a couple of simple and a few challenging questions for their ability - if you prepare well you should avoid the slower members getting frustrated and at the same time keep the faster ones thinking.
     
  5. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Feb 16, 2014

    That answer is too long for a post, but a lot are based on 2 outstanding books. More the first than the second.

    1. Notice & Note by Kylene Beers and Robert E Probst
    2. Mosaic of Thought by Ellin Oliver Keene & Susan Zimmermann

    These are not only the 2 books I have found most helpful, but 2 that lots of other teachers have found to be outstanding in teaching reading comprehension as well.
     
  6. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Feb 16, 2014

    I believe that background knowledge is a huge part of comprehension. If a child has never experienced anything else but an inner city apartment, mindless TV and video games, chances are s/he's not going to fully comprehend anything.
     
  7. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Feb 16, 2014

    Mosaic of Thought I have read and used. I'll have to get Notice and Note.
     
  8. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Feb 16, 2014

    So these kids would need a heavy, consistent diet of non-fiction books?
     
  9. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Feb 16, 2014

    Books, read alouds, videos, internet sites with pics, field trips, guest speakers etc. etc. Anything to build up the background knowledge that supports full understanding of the subject....
     
  10. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 16, 2014

    These are great reads! Mosaic of Thought is more philosophy behind comprehension instruction...Strategies that Work is another great book with ideas for teaching comprehension strategies. Picture books and think alouds are key. Kids need to realize that thinking is reading, not just saying the words that are on a page.
     
  11. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    This is a good way to put it and something I need to do a MUCH better job of.
     
  12. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Feb 16, 2014

    It's harder to remember with older kiddos, or kiddos at a higher reading level. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking they should already know it, or that a particular book is too easy for them to hear.
     
  13. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Feb 16, 2014

    If you want students to become stronger with reading comprehension they must understand the structure of language. Many things mentioned above such as background knowledge, strategies, and such are great things to support comprehension, but in my experience, students fall flat when it comes to understanding the structure of our own language. Many kids struggle with the meaning of prepositional phrases, modifiers, etc. They haven't had sound instruction in grammar. Misunderstanding the basic meaning of a sentence will destroy the meaning of a passage. Getting the gist and using background knowledge doesn't necessarily help a student understand what the author actually says in a passage. Sure the student might get by answering a question, but is that answer based on background knowledge or reading comprehension.

    I think as part of any reading comprehension instruction sentence combining and activities to ensure students really understand prepositional phrases and how phrases modify different parts of the sentence is KEY.

    This isn't the only part to teaching reading comprehension, but it is often a missing part.
     
  14. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    So a2z writing would be huge to improving reading comprehension then with regards to prepositional phrases, adverb phrases, appositive phrases..etc correct?
     
  15. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Feb 16, 2014

    Work at the sentence level would help many kids make strides in reading comprehension. Unless your district works heavily at the sentence level when teaching writing, most kids knowledge of the structure of language is developed through exposure. If no time is spent at the sentence level, most students will never have a teacher that has the time to pick apart writing at the sentence level and teach the student why a sentence in a piece is weak. In my district, most kids can't even talk about sentence structure and grammar because it was virtually eliminated from the curriculum except for a cursory passing. The phrase, "does it sound right" is the typical go to strategy when writing. Frightening when many kids aren't exposed to proper grammar in any aspect of their lives.

    So, destructing sentences and combining sentences are good exercises along with grammar instruction would be helpful for many students.

    Will writing instruction help reading comprehension? Depends on the writing instruction....
     
  16. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Feb 16, 2014

    Comprehension is such a broad topic. But I'd say modeling is key. Modeling within your reading lessons is extremely important. It's also important that the kids see you as a reader and see reading as something that we can do for enjoyment, but we're still using those reading skills when reading for pleasure. I always have a read aloud chapter book that I'm reading to my students completely separate from my reading lessons. We read for 10 minutes a day or so before or after lunch. I'm modeling my comprehension and discussing the book with them- so they're practicing comprehension as well- but in a very informal setting.
     
  17. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Feb 16, 2014

    This is so critical since you can't really teach comprehension, you can only prepare students to comprehend.

    Another important consideration is to teach students to expect to understand the material. If a student does not expect to understand, that child will not persist in trying to figure it out.

    This is best done at story time and using whole-class novels, poems, essays and articles. I say whole-class so you can provide background information, new concepts and vocabulary then properly discuss the material.

    I find, for myself, when I divide the class into groups with different materials, I spend all my teacher contact time preparing the student to keep busy while I'm working with the other groups.
     
  18. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Feb 18, 2014

    Here's some more information about how to activate background knowledge:http://reading.ecb.org/teacher/priorknowledge/pk_teachingtips.html
    From article:
    "Why is it important to help students activate their prior knowledge and connect it to their reading materials?

    In general, the more students know about a topic, the better they comprehend and learn from the passages. Because prior knowledge and ability to comprehend are highly correlated, instruction that focuses on activating students' prior knowledge and helping them relate their prior knowledge to the texts that they will read improves comprehension."
     

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