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Why is reading comprehension important?

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  1. 1. WHAT AM I READING? HOW COMPREHENSION AFFECTS READING INSTRUCTION SaraTremmel Walden University Jeradi Cohen READ 6707: Reading and Literacy Growth, Grades 4–6 24 January 2016
  2. 2. What is comprehension? ■ Reading comprehension is a person’s ability to understand the meaning that a text is trying to communicate. ■ Ah! But there are complications! – Reading comprehension involves a mutual relationship between the reader and the text, in which the reader brings their own purpose for reading as well as their life experiences to meet with the author’s purpose for writing and his former experiences (Wilhelm, 2016). – Do students understand the purpose for their reading? How can teachers encourage this process? – How can teachers provide direction to support student background knowledge?
  3. 3. Why should I care about a student’s reading comprehension? ■ If a student is unable to understand what they are reading, they might as well be staring at a blank page.They are gaining no information from the text. ■ Studies indicate that most children who struggle with reading rarely catch up with their classmates (Kelly & Campbell, 2012).
  4. 4. What can teachers do? Do not fret!There are many ways that teachers can support students who are struggling with reading comprehension! Here are a couple of examples.
  5. 5. 1. Graphic Organizers ■ When used in a whole group setting, GraphicOrganizers can be a great resource for teachers to guide student reading comprehension. ■ They provide a visual representation of key points in a text (Reutzel & Cooter, 2016). – They can also help readers see underlying relationships within a text that may otherwise go unnoticed. ■ Researchers agree that using graphic organizers is a valuable tool to teach children text structure, which supports comprehension (Reutzel & Cooter, 2016). ■ Graphic organizers can also be helpful tool for correcting misunderstood text. – By asking students to contribute to the visual aide through a class discussion, students learn from each other as well as the teacher. ■ By modeling how to use Graphic organizers teachers are providing students with a life-long tool that will improve their reading comprehension.
  6. 6. 2. Activate Prior Knowledge ■ Research demonstrates, when students have appropriate prior knowledge, they can connect to the text they are reading - as a result, student reading comprehension improves (Costley &West, 2012). ■ Studies show evidence for the role of domain-specific prior knowledge in exceptional performance (Neuenhaus, Artelt, & Schneider, 2013). - Students who have background knowledge on what they are about to read will have a stronger understanding of what the text is trying to communicate. ■ Teachers can help students activate their prior knowledge before reading by – holding class discussions – showing visual representations of a topic before reading – having students write a reflection of what they know (Costley &West, 2012) ■ Prior knowledge allows students to have that “Aha!” moment because they are able to make sense of a new idea by connecting it to an old idea
  7. 7. Can students support their reading comprehension? Absolutely!There are strategies that students can utilize to increase their comprehension skills as they read. Graphic organizers are a great example of a strategy that can be used by teachers and students.
  8. 8. 1. Summarize ■ Summarizing is the ability to take what you are reading and write a shortened version of it. ■ This is an excellent strategy for students to practice, as it strengthens their ability to apply what they have read, incorporating higher order thinking skills (Kirmizi & Akkaya, 2011). – This is harder than it sounds! ■ Students must be able to locate key information and communicate it in their own words (Kirmizi & Akkaya, 2011). ■ Summarizing is also a great tool for taking what students comprehend and storing it in their long-term memory.This will add to their prior-knowledge and continue the cycle of strengthening their reading comprehension abilities.
  9. 9. 2. Generate and Ask Questions ■ Students are naturally curious beings.When they learn to ask questions about text, they can become more purposeful and engaged readers. ■ Encouraging students to ask questions can lead to deeper levels of text processing (Dole, Duffy, & al, e., 1991) ■ This strategy can foster comprehension as well as teach students how to self-regulate their thinking (Rosenshine, Meister, & Chapman, 1996) ■ The act of asking questions help students focus their attention on content (Rosenshine, Meister, & Chapman, 1996)
  10. 10. How can teachers inform their instruction of reading comprehension? ■ There are two types of factors that affect reading comprehension: – Cognitive – Non-cognitive (aka Affective)
  11. 11. What are the cognitive factors? ■ Cognitive factors include: – Text difficulty ■ This is measured by how hard it is for a student to read a text (Reutzel & Cooter, 2016). If a text uses too many unfamiliar words, or is set in an unfamiliar context, then students will not be able to read it. – Background knowledge ■ The knowledge that students have before they start learning about a topic will greatly influence how many connections they will make to the new topic, which will consequently affect their understanding. – Vocabulary ■ The larger the vocabulary a student has, the more text they will be able to comprehend. – Metacognition ■ This is a student’s ability to be aware of their thinking process. Students who know how to keep themselves engaged in reading become stronger readers.
  12. 12. What are the Affective factors? ■ Affective factors include: – Engagement ■ A student’s ability to stay focused on a text will determine a great deal of how much of the message they understand. – Motivation ■ This is a student’s desire to accomplish a task.There are many ways for students to become motivated to read: Work avoidance Efficacy Challenge Curiosity Involvement Importance Recognition GradesSocial Competition Compliance
  13. 13. Let’s look at some comprehension strategies in action… This week I reviewed the lesson Two Bad Ants by Sharon Morris (International Literacy Association and National Council ofTeachers of English, 2014).This lesson examines the concept of point of view by looking at the world through the eyes of ants. My favorite aspect of this lesson is that Morris is encouraging teachers to use a collaborative teaching strategy with the students. Morris suggests that teachers start the lesson by looking at a book from the “Look Once, Look Again” series by David Schwartz. Schwartz’s books in this series use photographs to show how looking at something from different angles can change the way you see it.This teacher-lead activity provides students with background knowledge about point- of-view before they look at the main text. Morris (International Literacy Association and National Council ofTeachers of English, 2014) recommends reading Two Bad Ants by ChrisVanAllsburg (1988) to teach point-of-view. After reading the story, Morris provides questions for the students to consider.The questions are focused on helping students think about what it would look like to see through the eyes of an ant.When teachers ask open-ended questions like these, it can support student comprehension of the story. It encourages students to think about the story beyond the text on the page (Reutzel & Cooter, 2016).The questions also serve to help students with the checking aspect of metacognition (Laureate Education, Inc., 2014).This is an opportunity for the students to acknowledge any challenging aspects of the book.
  14. 14. Keep looking... After the class discusses possible answers to the questions, Morris (International Literacy Association and National Council ofTeachers of English, 2014) asks for students to be paired up.With their partner, students will examine the book again.This time the students will look for illustrations that support the text. Illustrations can be a great way to support student comprehension, especially for visual learners (Carney & Levin, 2002). In terms of metacognition, opportunities to reread the book and double check understanding is an application of repairing metacognition (Laureate Education, Inc., 2014). Students will work in small groups as they fill out a Point ofView Chart (International Literacy Association and National Council ofTeachers of English, 2014).This form of graphic organizer, helps students make comparisons of objects as people view them versus how ants view them.This can be used as a formative assessment to check that students (as a class) understand the concept of different points of view. At the end of the lesson, Morris (International Literacy Association and National Council ofTeachers of English, 2014) has the teacher reread Two Bad Ants.The goal is for students to be able to follow the book with a new level of understanding this time. I would enjoy using this lesson in my own classroom if I ever teach intermediate learners. I would probably addThink, Pair, Share to the time allotted for students to revisit illustrations with a partner. Think, Pair, Share will provide students with a conscious purpose to look for evidence of how ants see the world.This should help students stay on task.
  15. 15. What’s next? The next step is up to you! Instructional strategies are only as good as the teachers who use them! Find a technique (or two…) that will benefit your classroom and teach your students how to use it. Reading comprehension improvement will come with time and practice.
  16. 16. References Afflerbach, P., Cho, B.-Y., Kim, J.-Y., Crassas, M. E., & Doyle, B. (2013). Reading:What else matters besides strategies and skills? The Reading Teacher, 66(6), 440–448. Retrieved from theWalden Library databases Carney, R. N., & Levin, J. R. (2002). Pictorial Illustrations Still Improve Students' Learning fromText. Educational Psychology Review, 14(1), 5-26. Costley, K. C., &West, H.G. (2012).Teaching Practice:A Perspective on Inter-Text and Prior Knowledge. SRATE Journal, 21(2), 21-25. Retrieved January 20, 2016, from ERIC database Dole, J. A., Duffy, G.G., & al, e. (1991). Moving from the old to the new: Research on reading comprehension instruction. Review of Educational Research, 61(2), 239. Retrieved January 22, 2016, from ERIC database International LiteracyAssociation (ILA) and NationalCouncil ofTeachers of English. (2014). ReadWriteThink. Retrieved from http://www.readwritethink.org/ Kelly,C. &Campbell, L. (2012). Helping struggling readers. Retrieved January 24, 2016, from http://education.jhu.edu Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2014). Metacognition:Thinking about thinking [Multimedia file]. Baltimore, MD:Author. Neuenhaus, N.,Artelt,C., & Schneider,W. (2013).The Impact of Cross-Curricular Competences and Prior Knowledge on Learning Outcomes. International Journal Of Higher Education, 2(4), 214-227. Retrieved January 20, 2016, from ERIC database Reutzel, D. R., & Cooter, R. B., Jr. (2016). Strategies for reading assessment and instruction in an era of common core standards: Helping every child succeed (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson. Rosenshine, B., Meister, C., & Chapman, S. (1996).Teaching students to generate questions: A review of the intervention studies. Review of Educational Research, 66(2). Retrieved January 22, 2016, from ERIC database Susar Kirmizi, F., & Akkaya, N. (2011). A Qualitative Study on the Use of Summarizing Strategies in Elementary Education. Hacettepe University Journal Of Education. Retrieved January 22, 2016, from ERIC database Van Allsburg,C. (1988). Two Bad Ants. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Wilhelm, J. (2016). Understanding reading comprehension: what it really means to comprehend text – and why reading comprehension and teaching it are more complicated than most of us think!. Retrieved January 24, 2016, from www.scholastic.com.

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