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COMPREHENSION FINDINGS, STRATEGIES, RESOURCES

Comprehension
o Comprehension the act of understanding what you are reading;
complex array of cognitive processes
o Involves readers awareness and understanding of:
Phonemes (individual sound pieces)
Phonics (connection between letters and sounds)
Vocabulary knowledge (denotations and connotations of words)
o Influenced by: perceptions, beliefs, motivation, problem-solving strategies
o Based on minds ability to make links and ask questions regarding the
particular reading event
o Comprehension (noun) vs. Comprehending (verb)
o Comprehension outcome
o the knowledge we have gained after reading act has terminated
o Comprehending process
Meaning-making is still under construction after the act of reading
Depends on problem-solving strategies that readers use to interpret
what theyve read
Ongoing process that continues as long as the reader is thinking
about the message
Misconceptions
o Comprehension = one skill (can be taught in one lesson)
o Comprehension strategies only need to be taught in the elementary grades
o Once a child learns to read in the elementary grades he is able to tackle
any future text that comes his way
o Middle and high school students do not need to develop their reading
comprehension skills
o Reading comprehension skills are the same for different genres, texts,
purposes, types of writing, etc.
o Strategies are taught as ends themselves instead of as tools to enhance
understanding
o Vast majority of what passes for comprehension instruction is really
assessment
o *THE TRUTH: The development of reading comprehension is a
lifelong process that changes based on the depth and breadth of texts the
person is reading.
Vocabulary Instruction
o 50 studies reviewed in detail from 1979 to present; 21 different methods
represented in these studies
Appropriateness
Rich contexts
Incidental learning
Computer technology

Taught directly and indirectly


Repetition
Depend on multiple instructional methods
Text comprehension instruction
o 453 studies that addressed issues with text comprehension since 1980; of
these 205 met NRP criteria and were categorized based on the kind of
instruction used
Readers actively connect to ideas; create mental images
Explicit and formal instruction
As a skill in specific content areas (e.g., history, biology, etc.)
Teacher preparedness and comprehension strategies instruction
o Of 635 studies visited, only 4 met the NRP research methodology criteria;
studies investigate 2 major approaches: Direct Explanation and
Transactional Strategy Instruction
Direct Explanation teachers ability to explain the reasoning and
mental processes involved in successful reading comprehension
Transactional Strategy Instruction same as above, but also
emphasizes the ability of teachers to facilitate student discussions
where students collaborate to form joint interpretations of a text
Teachers required instruction in:
Explaining what they are teaching
Modeling their thinking processes
Encouraging student inquiry
Keeping students engaged
Effective Comprehension Instruction
o Literacy is an active process must set a tone that values student
curiosity and thinking and respects all voices and visions
o Teach strategies one at a time but, encourage students to use multiple
strategies together
o Model the strategies (short and sweet!) model for a few minutes and
then quickly engage students in guided practice
o Teach the reader, not the reading (process, not product) - view strategies
as a means to an end with the goal of building a repertoire of thinking
strategies
o Give students TIME to think!
o Provide opportunities for guided and independent practice
o Provide opportunities for students to respond by writing and drawing
o Show students how comprehension strategies apply in a variety of
texts, genres, and contexts
Strategies
o Activating and Using Background Knowledge (Making Connections)
o Predicting (Making and Confirming Predictions)
o Questioning (Answering and Generating Questions about Text)
o Visualizing and Inferring

o Monitoring (Stopping and Thinking about Text; Fix-up strategies)


o Summarizing
o Using Graphic and Semantic Organizers
o Recognizing Text Structures
Resources
o Harvey, Stephanie and Anne Goudvis. Strategies That Work: Teaching
Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement. (2007). Stenhouse
Publishers: Portland, Maine.
o Dorn, Linda J., and Carla Stoffos. Teaching for Deep Comprehension: A
Reading Workshop Approach. (2005). Stenhouse Publishers: Portland,
Maine.
o Findings from the National Reading Panel http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/nrp/Pages/findings.aspx
o New Horizons in Comprehension http://www.ascd.org/publications/educationalleadership/mar10/vol67/num06/New-Horizons-in-Comprehension.aspx
o The Art and Science of Teaching/Summarizing to Comprehend http://www.ascd.org/publications/educationalleadership/mar10/vol67/num06/Summarizing-to-Comprehend.aspx
o Teaching Critical Reading with Questioning Strategies http://www.ascd.org/publications/educationalleadership/mar10/vol67/num06/Teaching-Critical-Reading-withQuestioning-Strategies.aspx