Comprehension Training - Reading First in Virginia

What IS reading anyway?
• Peter led Bridget into the waiting room.
• He realized that she was extremely nervous,
so he gently suggested that she sit down.
• Bridget ignored him and began to pace
• The other patients watched her warily, and
several also began pacing.
• As a scream rang out from the inner office,
Peter angrily forced Bridget to sit down.
• Bridget moved closer to Peter,who leaned
down and tenderly scratched her ears.
Review what we did…
• We read all the words…didn’t have to
decode…most were known to us.
• We assigned meaning to words based on our
prior knowledge and experience with text
and the world.
• We made inferences and predictions…
• We constructed visual images.
• We monitored our own comprehension…no
one else did it for us…we changed our
predictions based on new information.
• We constructed meaning!
Virginia Standards of Learning for
1.9 The student will read
and demonstrate
comprehension of a
variety of fiction and
First Grade: Volume 2, Page 9
“Comprehension is the reason for
reading. If readers can read the
words but do not understand
what they are reading, they are
not really reading.”
Bonnie B. Armbruster, B.B., Lehr, F., & Osborn, J. (Eds.). (2001). Put Reading First:The
Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read.
General Intelligence
Role of Text Structure on
• Narrative vs. expository
• Story structure
– Beginning: setting, character(s), problem, goal
– Middle: series of episodes
– End: resolution of problem, attainment of goal
What does comprehension
instruction look like?
Before, During, After
• Before
– Activate, access, and build background knowledge
– Organize background knowledge
– Make vocabulary connections and set a purpose for reading
• During
– Keep students actively engaged when reading
– Ask yourself, “What are my students ‘observably’ doing?”
– Teach students how to monitor understanding
• After
Monitor understanding
Elaborate on what was read
Organize the information in the text
Make vocabulary connections
What are effective research-based
comprehension strategies?
Monitoring meaning & metacognition
Answering & generating questions
Graphic & semantic organizers
Recognizing story structure
Some research support for:
– using prior knowledge
– using mental imagery
Comprehension Strategies:
How to teach them
• Think aloud during read-alouds and during small
group reading instruction to model the strategy
you want to teach.
• Include declarative knowledge: What is the
• Include procedural knowledge: How is the
strategy employed?
• Include conditional knowledge: When and why
should the strategy be used?
Comprehension Focus Areas
Monitoring Meaning (metacognitive strategies)
Making Connections
A Fox Lives Here
By ____________
What do you think?
Fill in your guesses before you read the book.
Check your answers as you read.
Foxes can live in cold places like the
Was I right?
Activities you
might try:
Anticipation Guides
Foxes have white fur so other
animals can see them.
Foxes can’t hear very well.
Foxes live in dens.
It is never warm in the Artic.
Story Impressions
• Discuss how the words in the text
make a picture in your mind:
• I get a picture in my mind…
• It’s like a movie in my head...
• I can see how it looks…
• Responses: draw or describe what is seen
• Select quotes or books with rich imagery:
– Good Dog Carl by Alexandra Day
– Abuela by Arthur Dorros
– The Seashore Book by Charlotte Zolotow
Asking & Answering Questions
“Most teachers are good enough at the
age-old method of checking students’
comprehension by asking questions at
the end of a story. But it is not good
enough for children if teachers only
test reading comprehension rather
than teach it.”
Srickland, D. & Snow, K. (2002). Preparing our teachers: Opportunities for better
reading instruction. Washington, DC: Joseph Henry Press. [emphasis added to
original, p. 56]
Good readers ask questions.
Question - Answer Relationships
In Your
Author &
Monitoring Meaning
• Think about their own thinking:
– Examples: booknotes, sticky notes, simple notetaking skills
• Introduce & use a simple system for monitoring
– Examples:
T-S (text-self connection)
T-T (text to other texts)
?, C (don’t understand or confusion)
(word) (unknown word)
• Teach children to use a few fix-up strategies:
– Examples: Stop & Go Back
Read it out loud
– Read ahead for meaning Write a question note
– Sound it out Speak to another reader
Slow down
Making Connections
It reminds me of:
to self/world
to author’s craft
to other texts
What We Know + Text Information
Weaving Activity (Hansen, 1981)
Materials: colored strips - grey strips
Students write what they know about
topic on grey strips
Students preview the text itself &
write down predictions about the
topic on colored strips.
Strips are woven together to
demonstrate how inferences are
drawn from texts.
Teaching Students About
Materials: less familiar kitchen utensils,
e.g., apple corer
Ask students to decide what the
object is used for. Provide an
apple as a clue. Discuss how
inferences are based on prior
knowledge plus specific
information from author.
Useful Titles for
Teaching Inferring:
George & Martha series by James Marshall
Fables by Arnold Lobel
Tight Times by Barbara Shook Hazen
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi by Chris van
Importance of understanding text structure:
– fiction: characters, setting, problem, attempts to
resolve, resolution
• Try story maps, summary cubes, retellings
– nonfiction: table of contexts, index, pictures,
charts, captions, headings, glossary, etc.
• Try main idea table, K-W-L-S charts
Comprehension Instruction
Small Group Activity:
1. Choose a comprehension strategy to use
with the assigned text.
2. Complete the handout.
3. Share.
Comprehension Activity
Book Title_____________
Author ____________
Fiction vs Non-fiction
1. Familiarize yourself with the text. Approximate Difficulty level is _____
2. Choose a comprehension strategy
for the text.
3. Briefly describe why this strategy
was chosen. Provide a 2-3 sentence
4. When would you use the
strategy? (circle one)
5. Briefly describe how to
implement the strategy.
6. How would you adapt this
strategy to accommodate the
different types of readers?
7. Discuss how your core program
addresses comprehension
Name of Strategy:
(circle all that apply)
Guidelines for Strategy Instruction
1. Provide direct, explicit instruction for using a strategy:
– i) model the strategy using a read-aloud: directly explain what, when,
why, & demonstrate its use for students
2. Give ample opportunities for guided practice:
– ii) children practice using the strategy in partners, THEN
students practice the strategy in groups of 3
3. Promote independent application of the strategy
– iii) use the strategy independently during guided reading
4. Assess students’ use of the strategy
– iv) re-tellings, questions following a running record, analyze children’s
booknotes from a reading, observe student discussions
What Should be Taught to Facilitate
Accurate decoding and automatic word recognition
Self monitoring of decoding in context
Meanings of individual words
Asking of Why Questions
Self monitoring of understanding
Comprehension Strategies: prior knowledge activation, construction of
mental images, summarization, text structures
Pressley, M. (2000). What should comprehension instruction be the instruction of? In M.L. Kamil,
P.B. Mosenthal, P.D. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research: Volume III (pp.
545-561). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
at Different Stages
• Emergent
• Beginning
• Instructional
How is comprehension addressed
in your literacy block?
Copyright 2005-2007 by the
Rector and Visitors of the
University of Virginia.