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Comprehension. The Ability to Construct Meaning and Understand Ideas Pam Jones Literacy Consultant COP ESD. Mosaic of Thought Ellin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmermann.

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The Ability to Construct Meaning and Understand Ideas

Pam Jones Literacy Consultant


mosaic of thought ellin oliver keene and susan zimmermann
Mosaic of ThoughtEllin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmermann
  • It is… “teachers who create the environment and give students the tools they need to read deeply and thoughtfully, so that they can contemplate ideas alone and with others and write persuasively about what they read.” It is… “teachers who embrace the wide range of responses their students give to the same text, and challenge the students to read books they believe they cannot.”
a framework of literate behaviors strategic comprehension ciera 1998 every child a reader
A Framework of Literate BehaviorsStrategic Comprehension (Ciera, 1998) Every Child a Reader

Independent Stage

  • Identifies specific words that are impeding comprehension
  • Summarizes major points in informational text and stories
  • Discusses themes
  • Asks how, why and what-if questions
  • Distinguishes between cause/effect, fact/opinion

and ideas/details in informational text

comprehension strategies

Comprehension Strategies

Strategies That Work

Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis

Mosaic of Thought

Ellin Keene and Susan Zimmerman

I Read It But, I Don’t Get It

Cris Tovani

making connections between prior knowledge and text
Making Connections Between Prior Knowledge and Text
  • Students comprehend better when they are able to relate what they read to another aspect in their lives or the world in general.
  • Readers store newly learned information with other related memories( Pearson et al. 1992).
  • Good readers know when their background knowledge for a topic is inadequate and how to build it.
asking questions
Asking Questions
  • Questioning while reading keeps the level of engagement active. It gives the reader incentive to forge ahead to make meaning.
  • Proficient readers ask questions of themselves and of the authors as they read, to clarify, make predictions, focus their attntion and locate specific answers.
evoking sensory images visualizing
Evoking Sensory Images (Visualizing)
  • Active readers create pictures in their minds as they read. These pictures enhance and further understanding through visual, auditory and other sensory connections to the text.
  • Active readers immerse themselves in rich detail.
  • Active readers revise their images to incorporate new information.
drawing inferences
Drawing Inferences
  • Inferring is the intersection of taking what is known and combining it with clues from the text to speculate what is to come, to make critical judgments or to form unique interpretations.
determining important ideas
Determining Important Ideas
  • Readers must differentiate between key ideas and less important ideas determining which are central to the meaning of the story.
  • Readers utilize text structure and special features in expository text to help determine importance.
synthesizing information
Synthesizing Information
  • Synthesizing involves combining new information with existing knowledge to form a new interpretation or a new insight.
  • Synthesizing can clarify or change a reader’s thinking.
  • A new idea is formed much the same as a jigsaw puzzle moves toward completion piece by piece.
  • Good readers extend their synthesis of the literal meaning to the inferential level.
repairing understanding
Repairing Understanding
  • If confusion disrupts understanding, reader’s may need to go back and select appropriate strategies to unlock the meaning.
  • They may need to skip ahead, reread, use syntax, semantics or grapho-phonic cues to solve a given problem.
  • Good readers ask themselves:

Does this make sense?

Does this word sound like language?

Have I seen this word before or one similar?

What do I already know from the context of this text that will help me?


Instructional Focus:

How do we teach children to recognize the elements of a story without distracting them or obscuring their view of the text with technical terminology?

From The Art of Teaching Reading

By Lucy Calkins

Go! Charts: Developmental Retelling ( The following slides have been adapted from The Power of Retelling, 2000.)

Go! Charts facilitate the move from literal-level comprehension to higher order thinking and interaction with the text.


Shape GO! Map










The Heart of Retelling





I noticed in the story….

I wonder why….

This is what I

Think the story

Will be about

I think the

author may use these



The Heart of Retelling (cont.)



This reminds me of…..


I will use this story map to help

Me retell the story…..





Schema established

or confirmed




Schema accessed




Schema extended

retelling informational text
Retelling Informational Text
  • What is the topic?
  • What are the most important ideas you remember?
  • What new information did you learn?
  • What is the setting for this information?
  • What did you notice about organization and text structure that helped you?
  • What was the author’s purpose for writing this article?
the great aha in reading comprehension
The Great Aha! InReading Comprehension
  • Goal is to access student’s depth of understanding and thematic connections across texts.
  • Framework for Understanding:
    • Reader is aware primarily only of the physical actions of the characters.
    • Reader is aware of the physical and intellectual actions of the characters.
    • Reader is aware of the physical and intellectual actions of characters in light of an ethical code.

Adapted from Eileen Sargent, Helen Huus, Oliver Andresen

question stems related to a framework for understanding for narrative text
Question Stems Related to a Framework for Understanding for Narrative Text
  • Physical:
    • What happened to….? Where did…?
    • When did….? Who did…? How did…?
  • Mental:
    • Why did…?
  • Moral:
    • Is it okay…? Is it ever wrong to…?
    • Was she right to…?
    • Do you agree or disagree with the character’s actions…?

Generated by the work of Jeff Beal from Macomb RLTC based on the Profundity Scale

question stems related to a framework for understanding
Question Stems Related to a Framework for Understanding
  • Psychological:
    • Were there other reasons he acted like that?
    • If you were in her shoes would you have done the same thing?
    • How else could the problem have been solved?
  • Philosophical:
    • What is the abstract truth that can be derived from this text?
    • What did you learn that you can generalize to other text or your life?
    • What is the big idea that you can use to help yourself?
comprehension strategy instruction using informational text

Comprehension Strategy Instruction Using Informational Text

Adapted from

Profundity “R” Us

Elaine Weber and Jeff Beal

why use informational text
Why Use Informational Text?

Factual texts:

  • Provide information about the real world
  • Can stimulate inquiry
  • Set purpose for reading and writing
  • Promote purposeful conversations
  • Increase text repertoires
comprehending nonfiction
Comprehending Nonfiction

Good Reader’s:

  • Use prior knowledge to make sense
  • Ask questions before, during and after
  • Determine what’s important
  • Monitor comprehension throughout
  • Make inferences during and after
  • Synthesize information
  • Visualize key ideas while reading
  • Can summarize what they learned
promoting inquiry in the classroom
Promoting Inquiry in the Classroom
  • Discuss real issues, events and people
  • Use “Think Aloud” with your own questions when reading aloud
  • Have students use sticky notes to “Code” when the read, ex.(?-question, I-important, L-learned something new, V-vocabulary,*-important, Aha- big idea surfaces, !!!-exciting).
  • Create a burning questions board to use as a starting point for inquiry response
literal plane what information does the author tell me
Literal PlaneWhat information does the author tell me?
  • What I already know about this topic
  • Title of the selection
  • The details I remember after reading
  • Important words or phrases
summary plane what are the authors important ideas
Summary PlaneWhat are the authors important ideas?
  • List three major ideas
  • List supporting details under each major idea.
  • Write a short summary of the text.
schema plane
Schema Plane
  • How does this fit with what I already know?
  • This makes me think………
  • I wonder why………
  • I didn’t know………
concept plane
Concept Plane
  • What is the concept?
  • Give examples of what it is.
  • Give examples of what it is not.
  • This reminds me of another text, because….
  • Classify, categorize, compare, and/or contrast.
universal plane
Universal Plane
  • What is the universal principle you learned from this information.
  • How did this new information change the way you think?
  • What should I think or do with this information?
  • How can you apply this principle to another situation?