Teaching comprehension strategiesTeachingcomprehension strategiesCurriculum K-12These professional learning materials were originallydeveloped as part of the Focus on Reading 3–6 program.
Teaching comprehension strategiespage ReadingsComprehensionNSW Department of Education and TrainingComprehension involves responding to, interpreting, analysing and evaluating texts.(NSW Department of Education and Training Literacy Continuum)When learners comprehend, they interpret, integrate, critique, infer, analyse, connect and evaluate ideas in texts.They negotiate multiple meanings not only in their heads but in the minds of others. When comprehending,learners strive to process text beyond word-level to get to the big picture. When comprehension is successful,learners are left with a sense of satisfaction from having understood the meaning of a text.Comprehension takes the learner to a new level of active understanding and insight. It enhances language andvocabulary knowledge. Good learners use a variety of comprehension strategies simultaneously and, accordingto Pressley (2002), they know how to deliberately apply specific strategies to aid their comprehension,particularly with regard to challenging texts/information.[A] reader can read a variety of materials with ease and interest, can read for varying purposes, and canread with comprehension even when the material is neither easy to understand nor intrinsically interesting Proficient readers are capable of acquiring new knowledge and understanding new concepts, are capableof applying textual information appropriately and are capable of being engaged in the reading process andreflecting on what is being read. (p. xiii, RAND Report, commissioned by the US Department of Education)The National Reading Panel (2000) emphasised the fact that comprehension is an active process between thereader and a text, a process that is both ‘intentional and thoughtful’.There are many ways that students demonstrate their understandings of texts. They locate and recallinformation, draw on the knowledge of text structures and text organisers, write short reflective responses,complete multiple choice questions, think deeply and express ideas verbally, complete descriptions, recognisecausal relationships, make logical connections, interpret graphics and images and identify multiple points of viewand specific details.It has been found that less able comprehenders usually focus more on word accuracy rather thancomprehension monitoring and generally have weak metacognition skills (Cain and Oakhill, 1999; Nation etal., 2005). Students with poor comprehension generally are poor at making inferences and integrating textinformation, according to Nation et al., (2005). They tend to read superficially, are less likely to participatein constructive processes and are unsure of when to apply their prior knowledge during reading (Cain andOakhill, 1999). Research has shown that there are sources of comprehension problems that are independent ofdecoding (Williams, 2005). Researchers have also identified students who cannot comprehend text effectively inspite of successful decoding (Caccamise & Snyder, 2005; Duke, Pressley & Hilden, 2004).Learners who struggle with comprehension possess inefficient strategies and use them inflexibly. They are usuallyunaware of what good comprehenders do and need to be shown how and when to apply a small repertoireof comprehension strategies. Providing students with explicit instruction in comprehension strategies can bean effective way to help them overcome difficulties in understanding texts (Graham & Bellert, 2004). The moreexplicit the comprehension strategy and self-regulatory instruction, the higher the likelihood that the learnerwill make significant gains in comprehension (Manset-Williamson & Nelson, 2005). As learners become morecompetent and confident of their comprehension, the less support they require from the teacher (Duke &Pearson, 2002). State of New South Wales through the NSW Department of Education and Training, 2010Taken from the Focus on Reading 3–6 program.
page Teaching comprehension strategiesReadingsComprehension bibliographyCaccamise, D. & Snyder, L. (2005) ‘Constructive models of reading comprehension: The situation model andrelated constructs’, Topics in language disorders, Vol. 25, 1.Cain, K. & Oakhill, J. V. (1999) ‘Inference-making ability and its relation to comprehension failure in youngstudents’, Reading and writing: an interdisciplinary journal, Vol. 11 pp. 489–503.Duke, N. K. & Pearson, P. D. (2002) ’Effective practices for developing reading comprehension’ in Farstrup, A. E.& Samuels, S. J. (eds.) What research has to say about reading instruction (3rd edition) pp. 205–242, IRA, Newark,DE.Duke, N. K., Pressley, M. & Hilden, K. (2004) ‘Difficulties with reading comprehension’, in Stone, C. A, Silliman, E. R.,Ehren, B. J. & Apel, K. (eds.) Handbook of language and literacy development and disorder, pp. 501–520, Guildford,New York.Graham, L. & Bellert, A. (2004) ‘Difficulties in reading comprehension for students with learning difficulties’, inWong. B. (ed.) Learning about learning disabilities, pp. 251–279, Elsevier Academic, San Diego, CA.Manset-Williamson, G. & Nelson, J. M. (2005) ‘Balanced, strategic reading instruction for upper elementary andmiddle school students with reading disabilities: A comparative study of two approaches’, Learning disabilityquarterly, 28, pp. 59–74.Nation K. & Norbury, F. (2005) ‘Why reading comprehension fails: Insights from developmental disorders’, Topicsin language disorders, 25, pp. 21–32.Pressley, M. (2002) ‘Comprehension instruction: What makes sense now? What might make sense soon?’Reading online, International Reading Association, viewed 2 December 2008, ndex/htm RAND Reading Study Group (2002) Reading for understanding toward and R & D program in readingcomprehension, RAND, Arlington, VA.Williams, J. P., Patterson, E., Salas, R., Prater, S. & Turner, M. (2002) ‘More than just reading: The human factor inreaching resistant reades’, Reading teacher, 58, pp. 346–357.Williams, J. P. (2005) ‘Instruction in reading comprehension for primary-grade students: A focus on textstructure’, Journal of Special Education, Vol. 39, 1, pp. 6–18. State of New South Wales through the NSW Department of Education and Training, 2010Taken from the Focus on Reading 3–6 program.
Teaching comprehension strategiespage Teaching comprehension strategiesAs articulated in the previous reading on p. 2, teaching students to be good comprehenders involves providing themwith explicit instruction in comprehension strategies.The following pages provide: definitions of comprehension strategies and teaching ideas descriptions and examples of the repertoire of the Super Six comprehension strategies a process for explicit instruction of comprehension strategies some teaching ideas that will support the teaching of comprehension strategies.On pp. 8–10, the teaching ideas refer to two key recommended texts that have been identified as providing richideas to support the explicit teaching of comprehension strategies:– Guided Comprehension in Grades 3–8, Maureen McLaughlin & Mary Beth Allen, 2009, International ReadingAssociation– Revisit, Reflect, Retell, Linda Hoyt, 2009, Heinemann.They can be purchased from: http://www.amazon.com/ Clarifying termsComprehensionstrategiesComprehension strategies are the cognitive and metacognitive strategies readers use toaccomplish the goal of comprehension.Comprehension strategies are interrelated and will rarely be used in isolation.This course focuses on the ‘Super Six’ cognitive and metacognitive comprehension strategies.Teaching ideasTeaching ideas are the activities and practices that teachers use with students to help themlearn how to use comprehension strategies.For example, Picture This, Storyboard.What is the difference between cognitive strategies and metacognitivestrategies?Cognitive strategies are mental processes involved in achieving something. For example, making a cake.Metacognitive strategies are the mental processes that help us think about and check how we are going incompleting the task. For example, ‘Is there something that I have left out?’Cognitive and metacognitive strategies may overlap depending on the purpose/goal. For example, as the cognitivestrategies involved in making a cake proceed (following the steps in order), the metacognitive strategies assess andmonitor the progress (to check that a step has not been missed).How does this relate to comprehension?Cognitive strategies assist in understanding what is being read. For example, predictingMetacognition is particularly relevant to comprehension. Metacognitive strategies allow individuals to monitor andassess their ongoing performance in understanding what is being read. For example, as a text is being read, thereader might think: I don’t understand this. I might need to re-read this part. State of New South Wales through the NSW Department of Education and Training, 2010Taken from the Focus on Reading 3–6 program.
page Teaching comprehension strategies‘Super Six’ comprehension strategiesExample questions/statementsLearners make personalconnections from the text with:This story reminds me of a holiday to my grandfather’s farm.This character has the same problem that I read/saw/heard in anothertext.I saw a program on television that presented things described in thistext.Does this remind me/you of something?Has something like this ever happened to me/you? something in their own life (textto self)Example teaching ideaMaking connectionsDescription another text (text to text) something occurring in theworld (text to world).Book and me: Students create two columns with headings Book/Me.Prior to and during reading students add details about the connectionsbetween the book and their lives.Example questions/statementsPredictingDescriptionLearners use information fromgraphics, text and experiencesto anticipate what will be read/viewed/heard and to actively adjustcomprehension while reading/viewing/listening.What do I/you think will happen next?What words/images do I/you expect to see or hear in this text?What might happen next? Why do I/you think that? What helpedme/you make that prediction?Were my/your predictions accurate? How did I/you confirm my/yourpredictions?Have I/you read/seen/heard about this topic anywhere else?Example teaching ideaBefore and after chart: Students list predictions before and duringreading. As they read students either confirm or reject theirpredictions.Example questions/statementsQuestioningDescriptionLearners pose and answerquestions that clarify meaning andpromote deeper understandingof the text. Questions can begenerated by the learner, a peer orthe teacher.What in the text helped me/you know that?How is this text making me/you feel? Why is that?When you read/viewed/ listened to that text did it remind me/you ofanything I/you know about? Why did it remind me/you of that?What did the composer of the text mean by ?Whose point of view is this? What points of view are missing?Example teaching ideaWonderings: Using post-it notes, students list all the questionsthey have about the text. As they read students continue to writequestions. When an answer is found for the wondering studentsremove the post-it note. State of New South Wales through the NSW Department of Education and Training, 2010Taken from the Focus on Reading 3–6 program.
Teaching comprehension strategiespage Example questions/statementsMonitoringDescriptionLearners stop and think about thetext and know what to do whenmeaning is disrupted.Is this making sense?What have I/you learned?Should I/you slow down? Speed up?Do I need to re-read/view/listen?What can help me/you fill in the missing information?What does this word mean?What can I use to help me understand what I’m/you’re reading/viewing/hearing?Example teaching ideaCoding: As they read students code the text with post-it notes4 I understand?I don’t understand!I fixed it up myselfExample questions/statementsVisualisingDescriptionLearners create a mental imagefrom a text read/viewed/heard.Visualising brings the text to life,engages the imagination and usesall of the senses.What are the pictures I/you have in my/your head as I/you read/view/listen to this text?Can I/you describe the picture or image you made while you read/heard that part?How did the pictures in my/your head help me/you to understand thetext?Example teaching ideaSketch to stretch: As a passage/story is read students sketch theirvisualisation. In groups they share their sketches and discuss reasons fortheir interpretation.Example questions/statementsSummarisingDescriptionLearners identify and accumulatethe most important ideas andrestate them in their own words.What things will help me/you summarise this text – list, mind map,note-taking, annotations, etc?What are the main ideas and significant details from the reading/viewing/listening?If you were to tell another person about the text read/viewed/heard ina few sentences, what would you tell them?What is the main theme? How is it connected to the world beyondthe text?In what significant ways does this text relate to/elaborate on the topicthat you have been investigating?Can you create a metaphor for the text that you have read?Example teaching ideaKey words: Students highlight words they believe are key tounderstanding the passage. These words are written on post-it notesand placed on the page. After reading the students close the book andarrange the key words in an order that supports a cohesive summary. State of New South Wales through the NSW Department of Education and Training, 2010Taken from the Focus on Reading 3–6 program.
page Teaching comprehension strategiesExplicit instruction of comprehension strategiesNB: Regardless of the strategy being taught, the process of explicit instruction remains t