Definition and Example Definition: Comprehension happens when the reader makes meaning from the text based on his or her unique background knowledge and experiences, the text, the reader's purpose for reading and the sociocultural context in which the reading occurs (Reutzel & Cooter, 2012, p. 243). Often, comprehension strategies for instruction include: -Monitoring Comprehension -Activating Background Knowledge (Schema) -Making Connections -Visualizing -Questioning -Inferring -Determining Importance -Synthesizing (Harvey & Goudvis, 2007)
Example: A reader thinks about his or her own family experiences to understand the interaction between Mrs. Rabbit and her children in The Tale of Peter Rabbit, as well as the meaning of the actual words that character says to the other characters. The reader might also make a prediction about what will happen when Peter disobeys and scoots under the gate to go to Mr. McGregor's garden (Reutzel & Cooter, 2012, p. 246).
Instructional Resources Example 1: Strategies Board Game -Fourth or fifth grade students can play this game with a partner or small group as they are reading a short, independent level text. -The teacher marks the text with sticky notes in advance. The notes are placed strategically throughout the text to facilitate answering certain questions or performing certain tasks. -They will roll the number cube and move their game piece to a spot on the part of the board that is labeled "Before Reading." -After reading and answering the question on the space they landed upon, each player will move their piece to the space labeled "Start Reading." -Students will read aloud to the first sticky note. One student will then roll the number cube and move that number of spaces. The player will read and answer the question or perform the task according to the space on which they landed. -Players will continue taking turns and answering questions until they reach the end of the text. -Use this link to see detailed instructions and a game board template.
Example 2: Story Line-Up -This resource helps students in grades two and three practice sequencing important story events, and could probably be adapted for older students as well. -After students read a text, they view story events written on sentence strips that have been scrambled. -Students work in pairs to place the events in order, starting with a title strip. -After sequencing all the strips, the students read them aloud, in order. -Peers assess how well each student sequences the events. -Use this link to see detailed instructions and a game board template.
Instructional Practices Example 1: Activating Schema to Make Predictions about Text -Before beginning a narrative or expository text, teachers can support students' comprehension by using this instructional strategy. -The teacher models how to draw on relevant past experience to understand and make predictions about events in a text. -The teacher would then guide students to practice the strategy, perhaps in pairs, building on each other's predictions in a logical way. -After more independent practice, the students would read the text. -Following the reading, the teacher would engage students in a discussion to confirm or refute their predictions, based on what they read (Reutzel & Cooter, 2012, p. 261).
Example 2: Visualizing Text Using Three-Step Frames -This kinesthetic instructional practice has been an engaging way my students have demonstrated their use of the visualization comprehension strategy. -During or after reading a narrative text, organize students in small groups. Each group will work cooperatively to plan a physical tableau for three important events in the story (or three main ideas in an expository text). -Students will use body language and facial expressions (but no words) to freeze into positions that describe the three events (Reutzel & Cooter, 2012, p. 261). -This instructional practice is enhanced (as are most) by modeling in advance, creating and discussing a rubric, and guiding practice before asking students to try it by themselves.
Authentic Assessment Example 1: Oral Retellings -This simple and effective procedure helps teachers find out what children understand after they read a narrative or expository text. -When retelling a story, children need to include the major events and relevant details in the sequence in which they occurred. Students must also demonstrate that they can infer details that the author has not stated in a literal way. Noting main characters, problems that drove the plot, and the solution may also indicate comprehension of the story. -When retelling expository text, students need to restate the main ideas and key supporting details of the content through whatever structure the author used to organize the text. This could include compare/contrast, cause-effect, description, etc. -Recent research recommends that teachers use four to six retellings of a variety of texts to get a true measure of comprehension. -Teachers can score the retellings based on how many story elements out of a possible total that a child included if he or she retells a story, and how many big ideas and details the child included in his or her retelling if he or she retells an expository text (Reutzel & Cooter, 2012, p. 258-259).
Example 2: Metacognitive Assessment -This assessment helps the teacher determine which comprehension strategies each student is using when he or she reads, how they select the strategies, and how well they monitor their comprehension as they read. -Students can take the Student Comprehension Strategy Use Survey (SCSUS) to note their typical reading behaviors. -The teacher scores the test by summing the numbered responses that the student circled and dividing it by the fifteen items on the assessment. -If the student's mean score is three, he or she has strong selection and use of reading strategies and monitors his or her comprehension effectively while reading. -If the student's mean score is close to a two, it is likely that the student occasionally selects and uses appropriate strategies, and occasionally monitors his or her own comprehension. -An average score near one shows the teacher that the student has not developed strong strategies for comprehension (Reutzel & Cooter, 2012, 253-254).