Recently in 5. Comprehension Category

Developing Academic Language: Got Words?

In the article, "Developing Academic Language: Got Words?" the authors focus on academic vocabulary and what professional opinion and research say about building more word knowledge in content areas. The article used the phrase, 'academic vocabulary', and what they mean by that is word knowledge that makes it possible for students to engage with, produce, and talk about the texts that are valued in school. It also points out the relationship between vocabulary knowledge and comprehension. Students today, are expected to understand the new and various technical words that are included in their content texts. Teachers today, commonly ask two questions in regards to the vocabulary instruction; what should attention to academic vocabulary in the content areas look like and which approaches to the vocabulary instruction will most likely produce the most successful results or highest level of acheivement, also considering those students at highest risk for failure? The answer to this that a larger amount of time and emphasis should be put toward developing their vocabularies in more systematic ways.

In a study of observing various classrooms and teachers, too much time, they found, was spent just mentioning and then assigning rather than actually teaching. Also, they found that most of the reading basals that the classrooms were using were not providing the attention to vocabulary needed to help increase comprehension. Direct instruction approaches also were found to improve vocabulary and comprehension. The article also gave some recommendations for teachers to help develop the students' academic language. Teachers should be highly selective about which words to teach, provide multiple encounters with targeted words, provide the students with direct instruction on how to infer word meanings, promote in-depth word knowlegde, and provide students with opportunities to extend their word knowledge. The vocabulary words should be meaningful and therefore tools for meaningful communication as well, the students should be exposed to them multiple times; writing, speaking, listening, and reading them repeatedly, and also, teachers should make attempts to use group activites that require them to manipulate the words through categorization, word association, or semantic analysis.

In "Teaching Expository Text Structures Through Information Trade Book Retelling" by Barbara Moss we as readers are introduced to the concept of expository texts and how we as teachers can teach these texts.  In this article Moss explains what the strategy of retelling is, how to teach expository texts and how teachers can assess students' retellings.

                To start off it is important as a reader and a teacher to understand why it is important that we teach students about expository texts and according to Moss she believes that "teachers are aware of the demands of living in an era when information is increasing at an alarming rate" (710).  Moss also states that "mounting pressures for improved students standardized test performance have resulted in increased attention to exposition" (710).  I agree with Moss in that we as teachers understand living in an era with information increasing at an alarming rate because as a teacher we can all remember a time five or ten years ago that information was not as readily available as it is today.  We as teachers also are able to think about the internet and how its role in text is becoming larger and larger.  Moss's second statement about standardized test also is very accurate because according to Daniels "70 -80% of standardized reading test content is expository" (710).  This once again shows us as teachers why we should be teaching about expository text and learning how to successfully teach this text is very important for our students.

                Expository text used with retelling has "shown promise for engaging students with literature as well as comprehension of expository text structures" (710).  This last sentence shows teachers, administrators, parents and all others concerned about literacy development how important teaching about expository text is to students.  Some of the reasons according to Moss why we should teach about expository texts is because it helps students in the "digital world with the ability to use the Internet quickly, efficiently an affectively which is important to success at school and in the workplace" (711).  Think about this statement, how many times a day do you use the Internet and how often is this text expository.  When you stop to think about this statement you realize nearly almost all of the sites you visit are of expository text and learning about this text is largely important to our students.  While some teachers are teaching expository text we need to remember to expose students early to this type of text (Kindergarten is recommended in the article) and teach these students to read this type of text.  When teaching this text we need to teach the common structures of "description, sequence, comparison and contrast, cause and effect and problem and solution" (711).  As literacy instructors we know that it is important that this text must have authentic literacy tasks and must provide rich opportunities for the students.

                One of these rich opportunities that is authentic is the use of retelling which is the noted strategy in this article.  Retellings are "oral or written postreading recalls during which children relate what they remember from reading or listening to a particular text, recalling as much information as possible not just the main points" (711).  As a teacher we can see that retellings seem easy but we need to remember that students are recalling what they had read which helps with their overall comprehension of the text.  These retellings will also help students develop summarization skills that are important in later grades as well as flexibility to read all types of texts.  When students retell they become actively engaged with a texts which we as literacy teachers have learned how important it is to become engaged with a text.  Engagement with a text helps to increase motivation as we have learned in class from Cambourne's conditions.   According to this article students can also "sense text organization and develop their oral language abilities.  This type of retelling is also very beneficial to ELL students" (712).  As teachers we know it is important to find a strategy that could be adapted for all students as this article explains this text shows that this retelling works and helps ELL students.

                Looking at the type of books that should be selected when using the retelling strategy we need to use "information trade books" and should be selected based on "literacy quality", "books that don't overwhelm students with difficult vocabulary" and finally "books that clearly illustrate the text structure being taught" (712).  As literacy teachers we can also align this information with research and other information that we have learned in class about align books to students making sure that the books are developmentally appropriate as well as using the five finger rule for vocabulary.  A thing to note when teaching about expository texts is that all structures should be taught individually with the easier ones being taught first and gradually moving on to the more difficult text structures.

                Learning about this retelling strategy is very important as a teacher and we need to remember that students will not automatically know how to retell so as teachers we must model this retelling and then have students practice retelling as a large group and then move to a small group for retelling.  A suggested method in this article of retelling is a "cumulative retelling which is ideal for small groups; the 1st student in the group retells the first events from the story, the 2nd student retells the next series of events but repeats the earlier events and this process continues until the entire text has been retold" (715).  As literacy teachers in ELED 3102 we have learned about the whole part whole read aloud lesson plan format which would work wonderful when using this strategy for expository texts.  Looking at this lesson plan we also know that there must be a way to assess students for the work they have done.  In this article Moss suggests using a "scale that is a holistic evaluation of retelling" this scoring method would acknowledge the "student's response as a whole, with all individual, unique features and richness, ability to identify main ideas, details, overall text structure and infer beyond text, summarize and relate text to own life" (716).  Using this way of assessment we as literacy teachers would acknowledge that fact that all students are unique and not all retellings will be the same.  We also need to remember that we want to push students to make text to self-connections to make the text more authentic for their own life.  This assessment will also allow teachers the ability to see how these students comprehend the text and if they will need further work with expository text.

                As mentioned in this blog previous it is important that we implement this strategy of retelling for comprehension through the use of the whole-part-whole lesson plan which allows for teacher modeling and then student practice.  This article is very important to refer to as a strategy guide for help when we as literacy teachers are introducing expository texts into our classroom someday.  I personally believe that this strategy is effective and could be beneficial to teachers when introducing expository texts.

Multiple Ways to Comprehend Text


In the article "Democracy's young heroes: An instructional model of critical literacy practices" by A. Vincent Ciardiello, Ciardiello talks about the importance of students learning about different situations from multiple points of view.  The author gives five literacy practices that he suggests all readers need to use when they are reading.  These five practices are: examining multiple perspectives, finding one's authentic voice, recognizing social barriers and crossing borders of separation, regaining one's identity, and listening and responding to "the call of service". Through these five perspectives, a reader comes to understand the text they are reading in more effective ways.  They understand that the text needs to be comprehended in multiple ways to get the full meaning from it.

An example from the article, is a classroom talking about desegregation of schools in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1960.  The main person being taught about is Ruby Bridges.  By implementing the five practices of literacy the author describes, the students are able to comprehend what others in that time would have thought about desegregation.  The students are able to think about how they would have felt at the time and what they would have done in this situation.

I personally think that having students learn to understand text in multiple ways helps increase their understanding of the text later on.  They are able then to remember the information from that text more fluently and comprehensively.  It also provides them with background knowledge for later text of the same concept.

Looking Inside Classrooms


Looking Inside Classrooms: Reflecting on the "how" as well as the "what" in effective reading instruction -- Barbara M. Taylor, Debra S. Peterson, P. David Pearson and Michael C. Rodriquez

We learned that effective teachers maintain an academic focus, kept more pupils on task, and provided direct instruction. Effective direct instruction includes making learning goals clear, asking students questions to monitor understanding of content or skills covered, and providing feedback to students about their academic progress. The National Reading Panel Report (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000) concluded that instruction in systematic phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, and comprehension strategies was important in a complete reading program. The panel's conclusion found that outstanding teachers taught skills, actively engaged students in a great deal of actual reading and writing, and fostered self-regulation in students' use of strategies. The overwhelming sense one gets when examining the observational notes presented in this article is that some teachers feel so compelled to make sure that key information is discussed that they bring it up themselves, thereby robbing students of opportunities to test their own knowledge and skill acquisition, and themselves of opportunities to evaluate students' growth toward independence. Coaching techniques were used to encourage children to elaborate on their ideas. I believe classroom literacy instruction needs to reflect best practices as identified in the research. In addition to what teachers teach, how teachers teach is also important to consider in search of making changes in reading instruction to improve students' reading achievement. 

Critical Literacy Practices

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In the article "Democracy's Young Heroes: An Instructional Model of Critical Literacy Practices," Vincent Ciardiello states that the main goal of literacy practices is to get the reader to see the underlying and multiple meanings in text. He suggests five practices to help the reader obtain this; these include looking at text from multiple perspectives, finding your authentic voice, recognition of social barriers, finding your identity, and listening to and responding to the "call of service." The purpose of teaching these practices is to help students become caring citizens which will stimulate "critical conversation." This type of conversation with peers and others during the school day keeps readers engaged in the lesson, and gets them thinking about the text by allowing them to hear what others think about it. While Ciardiello relates his literacy practices to social issues, I think they could be applied to any learning situation in reading. It is important for readers to look at text from multiple perspectives in all contexts, not just social, as well as finding the underlying meaning. I do think that teaching these practices to students from a social context is good though; the author used historical text about segregation and it got students to analyze how the people of that time might have felt or thought, leading them to their own sense of self-identity. I think this self-identification makes the reading meaningful for students, which is always very important.

SEARCHing for an Answer

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This article, SEARCHing for an Answer by Laurie Henry, is about how there are all sorts of text on the internet and even though it is a great source for learning, it might not be the greatest place for students because of their reading levels.  It has suggestions for teachers to help students to comprehend what is on the internet so they can effectively use this resource while working on homework.  One way they describe to help students is by asking five important aspects to look for while reading on the internet: identify important questions, locating information, critically evaluating information, synthesizing information, and communicating answers.  It goes on to say that Eagleton and Guinee suggest six aspects to follow while on the internet: be specific, be exact, be direct, be distinct, be succinct, and be concise.  Besides instructing students with these different approaches, teachers can also help by giving students opportunities to try them out in supervised settings.  "Practice makes perfect" as they say, but really it should be good practice makes perfect and that is what is needed when students are on the internet.  The article also goes on to explain the main framework to use while on the internet SEARCH.  S-set a purpose for searching, E-employ effective search strategies, A-analyze search-engine results, R-read critically and synthesize information, C-cite your sources, H-how successful was your search.  With this method students are covering all of their bases and not only making sure the information they are gathering is worthwhile, but also giving credit where credit is due by citing sources. 

            This article shared very true points.  Technology is becoming a part of everyday life, in and out of school.  Our students need to be able to use this technology to help them not only with school work, but also in everyday life.  These methods need to be taught to our students to ensure that they are getting the most out of their experience on the internet and other advanced resources.  By teaching these methods and strategies in school, students could benefit greatly from what they learn from these new resources on the internet. 

Readers Theatre Effectiveness

The use of readers theatre as a way to promote motivation, fluency, and comprehension among students has been proven through theory and research to be a very effective instruction according to Jo Worthy and Kathryn Prater, authors of the article ""I thought about it all night": Readers Theatre for reading fluency and motivation." Readers theatre uses repeated reading, a method that has shown improvement in fluency in studies.

Along with this, however, readers theatre makes the reading authentic and personal to the students, and provides motivation and engagement among all students. "Effective performances are built upon positive social interactions focused on reading, in which modeling, instruction, and feedback are natural components of rehearsals." (295) Students are rehearsing regularly, while monitoring each others' reading. Students naturally read the text with appropriate prosody and expression, and begin to comprehend rather than read to pronounce correctly and read quickly (the unintended consequence of repeated readings).

The article also points out added benefits of using readers theatre as a part of regular literacy instruction. Teachers have noticed motivation to read independently among students who otherwise showed apathy or distaste toward reading, a support of home languages in students whose first, or home, language is not English (using scripts with that home language), and motivating students who were usually introverted and shy to step up and show enthusiasm for reading.

I see the benefits of using a readers theatre, not just a few times a year, but as part of regular instruction in literacy and reading. The article stated that it could take several weeks to get the strategy running smoothly and effectively, but I feel that it would be worth the time and effort, because there are so many benefits for the students. Because it combines so many components (repeated reading, positive social interaction, modeling, instruction, feedback, and use of prosody, expression, and phrasing), it is so much more beneficial for the students, and I feel that it uses time more wisely, incorporating more aspects than one strategy alone might do. While rehearsing, students may come across and practice new vocabulary, they will use strategies to help with reading, and as I mentioned before, it helps with motivation, fluency, and comprehension.

In the article "What Can I Say Besides 'Sound it Out'?  Coaching Word Recognition in Beginning Reading" by Kathleen F. Clark, the effective practice of coaching instead of telling is described.  According to the article, "coaching is a technique with roots in the work of Marie Clay" (441).  This approach is described as an interactive option and has been referred to as coaching and scaffolding as well.  While coaching, "teachers closely observe students and intervene to support their devloping strategic processes" (441).  According to the article, there are several types of coaching.  These types are giving general cues to prompt thought and cues to prompt specific action.  One way of coaching that is described that is known to be successful is to begin by giving general cues to prompt thought and moving to cues to prompt specific action if the readers continue to struggle.  Ways to prepare to coach word recognition are described in the article.  It is noted that "to coach successfully, one must be aware of the knowledge sources available for word recognition, have specific knowledge of students' word-recognition abilities, be able to analyze a word, and generate appropriate cues.  It is important to know the three stages of word recognition as summarized by Juel (1991) so that we can generate appropriate instructional cues that support students' movement through the stages of word learning.  Overall, coaching is known to be a powerful technique in teaching and is an effective practice that "supports young readers as they problem solve during meaningful reading experiences and develop reading independence" (448).  After reading this article, I believe that coaching is an effective technique in teaching comprehension and word-recognition skills.  I agree with what the author has written in that coaching is a powerful teachnique in teaching children as they develop reading skills and knowledge of strategies as they complete a task (440). 

Blogging Reflection

I really enjoyed reading the article on blogging.  I never would have thought of using blogs for students at such a young age (elementary school) but after reading this article I realized what a useful tool it can be in developing literacy and technology skills in younger students.  We are now in a heavily equipped technology environment, and integrating literacy into technology is a good way to prepare students for these new forms of literacy.  The article mentioned that online communication, such as a blog, is an essential aspect of online reading comprehension.  Blogs can bridge together in-school literacy and out-of-school literacy.  It allows for literacy collaboration outside of the typical classroom environment.  I think this is important for engaging students' interests.  I found it interesting to read about the different types of blogs.  I thought the showcase blogs were very interesting because I had never heard of them before.  I like the idea of teachers showcasing their students' art work and writing.   I also like the HOT blogging.  It would allow for students to share each of their diverse perspectives and collaborate with one another on a high order thinking level. 

Hot Blogging Article

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After reading this article it seems that blogging is more than just one's thoughts and feelings towards a subject, object, person, or place but actually a learning tool in the new and improving technological society we are currently witnessing. I was very surprised to see that there were some many options for blogs. I was not aware these varieties, as I am new to the blogging word.

One thing that stood out in my mind about the article was when they were talking about blogging actually helps with text comprehension and communication skills beyond journals. The way blogging is set up, it is a "collaborative learning community" meaning that if someone blogs about an article, for example, this one, everyone will interpret the word differently in some ways and that allows for others to think deeper about the subject to analyze how other people are reading the text. This way they bloggers have more than just their opinion but they widen their audience and thoughts.

Blogging in general was a new concept to me but after reading this article it made a definite impact with me. I want to implement it when I become a teacher, i think it is useful and a tool for the comprehension of texts.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the 5. Comprehension category.

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