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From Research to Practice: Improving Comprehension Instruction, Gr. 2-3 Janice A. Dole University of Utah Overview Theory and Research in Comprehension. Major Issues in Comprehension Instruction. Building conceptual and linguistic knowledge. Conceptual knowledge and vocabulary. Text structures. Comprehension strategies. Theory and Research on Comprehension Comprehension is NOT a series of skills that you teach to mastery (unlike decoding). Comprehension is: Reader-driven and text-driven. Reading is active. Reading is constructive. Reading is strategic. Reading is holistic. Theory and Research cont. Comprehension is also a social activity. The social aspects of comprehension can motivate students to read and comprehend better as well. When was the last time you talked to someone about something you read? Theory and Research cont. Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). A major goal of comprehension instruction for students is to build linguistic and conceptual knowledge about the world. Theory and Research cont. National Reading Panel Report (2000). Importance of strategy instruction in improving text comprehension. Goal of strategy instruction is active processing, NOT use of strategies. Major Issues in Comprehension Instruction Building conceptual and linguistic knowledge. Conceptual knowledge and vocabulary. Text structures. Comprehension strategies. Conceptual and Linguistic Knowledge How do you build conceptual and linguistic knowledge? Lots and lots of read-alouds by teachers. Using many, many non-fiction as well as fiction books. Books need to be above students’ instructional reading level. Teacher and student discussions about the ideas and the words. Building Conceptual Knowledge Building conceptual knowledge means concept development and vocabulary. The level of one’s vocabulary knowledge effects their reading comprehension. The more words you know, the better your comprehension. Conceptual Knowledge and Vocabulary Perhaps his greatest triumph was surviving a bivouac in the Death Zone. Rate your understanding of this sentence, 1-none -- 5-excellent. Why don’t you understand? Conceptual Knowledge and Vocabulary These really should be taught together to benefit readers the most. Often, they may need to be taught before reading a selection. Prior Knowledge and Vocabulary What words do students need to know in order to understand the topic of the selection? Two examples: Story about a “plant.” Story about a “museum.” What are generally useful words to know? Vocabulary Words Beck, McKeown & Kucan’s book, Bringing Words to Life A wonderful book that explains which words you should teach: Tier 1 words-- e.g. dog, house, horse, animals. Tier 2 words--generally useful words to know, e.g. normal, routine, especially. Tier 3 words--content-specific vocabulary, e.g. ecosystem, habitat, mammals, species. Vocabulary Words Beck et al. argue elementary teachers should teach Tier 2 words-- These are generally useful words we all need to know to get along in our society. Which ones are generally useful words to know? Which ones are specialized terms? Isotope, coincidence, absurd, lathe. Vocabulary Words Which Tier 2 words to teach? Words that students can define easily on their own with knowledge they already have: Tend --to take care of Maintain--to keep doing Fortunate--lucky Benevolent--kind Vocabulary Words Which Tier 2 words to teach? Words for which students already have a conceptual understanding of: Despise--hate Hurl--throw Mumble--speak in a very small voice Vocabulary Words A caveat: With ELLs it is often easy and helpful to teach Tier 1 words in English: For example, “gato” means cat. So it may be helpful to teach the English label “cat” so ELLs can make the easy connection between “gato” and “cat.” Remember, “cat” can easily be associated with “gato.” Vocabulary Words When do you teach Tier 3 words? In content area subjects--social studies, earth science, biology, physical science. Entomologist Scientist Metamorphosis Prior Knowledge and Vocabulary Different ways to activate and build conceptual knowledge and prior knowledge: Discussions. Semantic webs, Venn diagrams. Think, pair, share. Writing. Picture walks for very young ones only. KWLs. Text Structures What are text structures? narrative and expository texts. basically like fiction and nonfiction, but a better way of thinking about it. Why? Text Structures Narrative and expository? Why do we call text structures this? Why not call them fiction and nonfiction? Text structures--a way to think about how the texts are organized. Narrative Texts Depicts events, actions, emotions, situations, people. Story structures, story grammars, story maps: Character Setting Problem Events Resolution Story Maps Story maps gives low-achieving readers an organizational framework for understanding the story. You can make predictions only if you have a story organization in your head. Story Map Instruction Students can complete story maps. Students can make semantic webs of story structures. Story maps can be turned into summaries: Summary is problem and resolution. Expository Texts Expository texts have different organizations than narrative texts. Expository texts have: Descriptions. Sequences. Compare/contrast. Problem/solution. Cause/effect. Question/answer. Expository Texts If you know the text structure of an expository text, then you can summarize it more easily. Expository Texts From This Place is Dry, V. Cobb. “A day without water in this blazing sun could cause death.” Cause: no water in the hot, blazing sun. Effect: you die. Expository Texts “There are three ways plants survive with very little water. The first is to be able to go into a kind of ‘sleep…The second way plants survive dryness is to grow and make new seeds when there is water…A third way plants live through dry periods is to store water after a rain.” Expository Texts Plants survive on little water by 1. Going to sleep. 2. Growing and make new seeds. 3. Storing water after rain. This structure: Problem/solution Expository Texts Well-organized texts increases comprehension of main ideas and topics when: There is clarity in and clear location of main idea statements. There are cues to the relations between important ideas--e.g. first, next, if, then. Expository Organization Introduce expository text as a different kind of text. For example, introduce fiction and nonfiction. Read a lot of nonfiction materials. For fiction, use story map elements. For nonfiction, use different structures like question/answer, problem/solution, compare/contrast. Comprehension Strategies What is a strategy? A strategy is a routine or procedure to help you to get something done. What are comprehension strategies? Routines and procedures you can use to help you comprehend what you read. Comprehension Strategies National Reading Panel report: Several kinds of comprehension strategies improve comprehension: Visualizing. Making predictions. Summarizing. Drawing inferences. Monitoring understanding. Asking questions. Comprehension Strategies “If you stepped outside the Sonoran Desert in Arizona on a summer day, the first thing you would notice is the heat. The hot air hits you in the face like opening an oven door. Temperatures in the summer can go as high as 130 degrees.” (from This Place is Dry, Cobb). Comprehension Strategies Visualizing Can you visualize the desert on a hot summer day? Think about how it feels to open an oven door. Think about walking outside into the heat. You open the door of the hotel and you walk into the heat. The heat hits you like you just opened an oven door. Comprehension Strategies Making predictions. What other information do you think will be in this book about the desert? Remember that the title of the book is called, This Place is Dry. Summarizing The Sonoran Desert is so hot that it feels like you are opening an oven door. Comprehension Strategies Drawing inferences Is it easy to live in a desert like the Sonoran Desert? Why or why not? Monitoring Understanding Do you understand how hot it is in the summer? Comprehension Strategies Asking questions How do people survive in the incredible heat? Do people actually live in the Sonoran Desert? How do plants and animals live in the hot sun? Comprehension Strategies Goal of strategy instruction is NOT to learn the strategies by heart. Instead, the goal of strategy instruction is to make comprehension an ACTIVE process. Reading is an active process. Reading is a strategic process. Comprehension Strategies Strategy instruction is best delivered through EXPLICIT INSTRUCTION What is explicit instruction? Introduction, what, why. Demonstration, modeling, explanation. Guided practice and feedback. Independent practice. Explicit Instruction Introduction--what, why? Today we are going to learn about a comprehension strategy that you can use to help you read better. Today we are going to learn more about stories. We already learn how stories have characters and settings. Every story also has a problem and resolution to the problem. Explicit Instruction Demonstration, modeling, explanation. Pencil-dropping experience. Problem/solution. Guided practice with feedback. Okay, now we are going to read a story about a girl named Prudy. Prudy has a problem and we are going to find out how Prudy solves her problem. Explicit Instruction Guided Practice with Feedback. Before I read you this story, I want to introduce a word to you that is important for your understanding of the story. The word is museum. What is a museum and what is it for? Why do we have museums? Explicit Instruction Independent Practice Think of another way Prudy could have solved her problem. Draw a picture and write a sentence that tells how Prudy could have solved her problem. Summary Theory and Research in Comprehension. Major Issues in Comprehension Instruction. Building conceptual and linguistic knowledge. Conceptual knowledge and vocabulary. Text structures--narrative and expository. Comprehension strategies--like visualizing, asking questions, predicting outcomes.
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