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Comprehension . 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 frantically. The other patients watched her warily, and several also began pacing.

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what is reading anyway
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 frantically.
  • 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
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 comprehension
Virginia Standards of Learning for Comprehension

1.9 The student will read and demonstrate comprehension of a variety of fiction and nonfiction.

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 comprehension
Role of Text Structure on Comprehension
  • Narrative vs. expository
  • Story structure
    • Beginning: setting, character(s), problem, goal
    • Middle: series of episodes
    • End: resolution of problem, attainment of goal
before during after
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
What are effective research-based comprehension strategies?
  • Monitoring meaning & metacognition
  • Answering & generating questions
  • Graphic & semantic organizers
  • Recognizing story structure
  • Summarizing
  • Some research support for:
    • using prior knowledge
    • using mental imagery
comprehension strategies how to teach them
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 strategy?
  • Include procedural knowledge: How is the strategy employed?
  • Include conditional knowledge: When and why should the strategy be used?

Activities you might try:

  • Anticipation Guides
  • DR-TA
  • DR-LA
  • 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]

question answer relationships

Question - Answer Relationships

In Your Head

Author & You

Right There!

monitoring meaning
Monitoring Meaning
  • Think about their own thinking:
    • Examples: booknotes, sticky notes, simple notetaking skills
  • Introduce & use a simple system for monitoring understanding:
    • 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 readerSlow down
making connections
Making Connections

It reminds me of:

  • to self/world
  • to author’s craft
  • to other texts
inferences 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 Inferences

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.

Inferences= What We Know + Text Information
useful titles for teaching inferring
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 Allsburg

Importance of understanding text structure:

  • fiction: characters, setting, problem, attempts to resolve, resolution
    • Trystory 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

Comprehension Instruction

Small Group Activity:

1. Choose a comprehension strategy to use with the assigned text.

2. Complete the handout.

3. Share.

guidelines for strategy instruction
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 comprehension
What Should be Taught to Facilitate Comprehension
  • 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.

comprehension at different stages
Comprehension at Different Stages
  • Emergent
  • Beginning
  • Instructional