Comprehension and the Common Core: Can the Romance Survive P. David Pearson UC Berkeley
Goals for Today • Review what is in and what underlies the CCSS when it comes to comprehension • Examine some emerging evidence about what comprehension in the Common Core might look like • Publisher’s Criteria • Brand new publication by the Aspen Institute: • Close Reading in the Common Core • Discuss some defensible positions to take on curriculum and pedagogy
What they said about reading • Students who meet the Standards readily undertake the close, attentive, reading that is at the heart of understanding and enjoying complex works of literature. They habitually perform the critical reading necessary to pick carefully through the staggering amount of information available today in print and digitally. They actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with high-quality literary and informational texts that builds knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens world views. They reflexively demonstrate the cogent reasoning and use of evidence essential to both private deliberation and responsible citizenship in a democratic republic. (CCSSO/NGA, 2010, p. 3)
What they said about teacher choice • By emphasizing required achievements, the Standards leave room for teachers, curriculum developers, and states to determine how those goals should be reached and what additional topics should be addressed. Thus, the Standards do not mandate such things as a particular writing process or the full range of metacognitive strategies that students may need to monitor and direct their thinking and learning. Teachers are thus free to provide students with whatever tools and knowledge their professional judgment and experience identify as most helpful for meeting the goals set out in the Standards. (CCSSO/NGA, 2010, p. 4).
How we got to where we are… • The historical pathway to Kintsch’s Construction Integration Model
Reader Text Reading Comprehension Context Most models of reading have tried to explain how reader factors, text factors and context factors interact when readers make meaning.
Bottom up and New Criticism: Text-centric Reader Text Reading Comprehension Context The bottom up cognitive models of the 60s were very text centric, as was the “new criticism” model of literature from the 40s and 50s (I.A. Richards)
Pedagogy for Bottom up and New Criticism: Text-centric • Since the meaning is in the text, we need to go dig it out… • Leads to Questions that • Interrogate the facts of the text • Get to the “right” interpretation • Writerly readings or textual readings
Reader Schema and Reader Response: Reader-centric Text Reading Comprehension Context The schema based cognitive models of the 70s and the reader response models (Rosenblatt) of the 80s focused more on reader factors--knowledge or interpretation mattered most
Pedagogy for Reader-centric • Since the meaning is largely in the reader, we need to go dig it out… • Spend a lot of time on • Building background knowledge • Inferences needed to build a coherent model of meaning • Readers’ impressions, expressions, unbridled response • Readerly readings
A few clarifications of schema theory… • Variation along a continuum of top-down vs bottom-up • Kohlers (1967): Reading is only incidentially textual • Anderson (1977): specific words/ideas instantiate general schemata: the text is the trigger to our knowledge stores • Not completely top down process
Critical literacy models: Context-centric Reader Text Reading Comprehension Context The sociocultural and critical literacy models of the 90s focused on the central role of context (purpose, situation, discourse community)
Pedagogy for Critical literacy models • Since the meaning is largely in the context, we need to go dig it out… • Questions that get at the social, political and economic underbelly of the text • Whose interests are served by this text? • What is the author trying to get us to believe? • What features of the text contribute to the interpretation that money is evil?
CI: Balance Reader and Text: little c for context Reader Text Reading Comprehension Context In Kintsch’s model, Reader and Text factors are balanced, and context plays a “background” role--in purpose and motivation.
Pedagogical implications for CI • Since the meaning is in this reader text interface, we need to go dig it out… • Query the accuracy of the text base. • What is going on in this part here where it says… • What does it mean when it says… • I was confused by this part… • Ascertain the situation model. • So what is going on here? • What do you know that we didn’t know before?
Context Kintchian Model Text 3 Knowledge Base Does>>>>>>>>> 1 Text Base 2 Situation Model Experience Says Means Out in the world Inside the head
NAEP • Locate and Recall • Interpret and Integrate • Critique and Evaluate
Common Core • Standards 1-3: Key ideas and details • Standards 4-6: Craft and structure • Standards 7-9: Integration of knowledge and ideas
CCSS NAEP • Key ideas and details • Craft and structure • Integration of knowledge and ideas • Range and level of text complexity • Locate and Recall • Interpret and Integrate • Critique and Evaluate • Complexity is specified but implicit not explicit
Freebody and Luke’s 4 Resources SAYS • Reader as Decoder: Get the message: • Reader as Meaning Maker: Integrate with knowledge: • Reader as Text Analyst: What’s the real message and how is it crafted • Reader as Text Critic: What’s the subtext? The hidden agenda: MEANS DOES
Consistent with Cognitive Views of Reading • Kintsch’sConstruction-Integration Model • Build a text base • Construct a “situation” model • Put the knowledge gained to work by applying it to novel situations. Key Ideas and Details Locate and Recall What the text says Decoder Integration of Knowledge and Ideas Integrate and Interpret Meaning Maker What the text means Craft and Structure What the text does Critique and Evaluate User/Analyst/Critic
Says Means Does
Context Kintchian Model Text 3 Knowledge Base Reader as Text User/Analyst/Critic Does>>>>>>>>> 1 Text Base 2 Situation Model Experience Reader as Decoder Says Reader as Meaning Maker Means Out in the world Inside the head
New and different • Most important: A new model of the comprehension process • Text (what the author left on the page) • Text base (the version a reader creates on a veridical reading) • Knowledge (what the reader brings from prior experience) • Model of meaning for a text • Dubbed the Situation Model (mental model) • A model that accounts for all the facts and resources available in the current situation
What’s inside the Knowledge box? • World knowledge (everyday stuff, including social and cultural norms) • Topical knowledge (dogs and canines) • Disciplinary knowledge (how history or astronomy works) • Linguistic knowledge • Phonology • Lexical and morphological • Syntax • Genre • Pragmatics (how language works in the world): Discourse, register, academic language, intention • Orthography (how print relates to speech)
How does a reader build a text base? Excerpt from Chapter 8 of Hatchet
“Some of the quills were driven in deeper than others and they tore when they came out. He breathed deeply twice, let half of the breath out, and went back to work. Jerk, pause, jerk — and three more times before he lay back in the darkness, done. The pain filled his leg now, and with it came new waves of self-pity. Sitting alone in the dark, his leg aching, some mosquitoes finding him again, he started crying. It was all too much, just too much, and he couldn’t take it. Not the way it was.
The pain filled his leg now, and with it came new waves of self-pity. Sitting alone in the dark, his leg aching, some mosquitoes finding him again, he started crying. It was all too much, just too much, and he couldn’t take it.Not the way it was.
“I can’t take it this way, alone with no fire and in the dark, and next time it might be something worse, maybe a bear, and it wouldn’t be just quills in the leg, it would be worse. I can’t do this, he thought, again and again. I can’t. Brian pulled himself up until he was sitting upright back in the corner of the cave. He put his head down on his arms across his knees, with stiffness taking his left leg, and cried until he was cried out.”
Building a Text Base • “Some of the quills were driven in (into what? His leg) deeper than others (other what? Quills) and they (the quills that were driven in deeper) tore when they (the deeper-in quills) came out (of his leg).He (Brian) breathed deeply twice, let half the breath out, and went back to work (work on what? Don’t know yet. Suspense. Expect to find out in next sentence). Jerk, pause, jerk (the work is jerking quills out)— and three more times (jerking quills out) he (Brian) lay back in the darkness, done (all the quills jerked out).
The pain filled his (Brian’s) leg now, and with it (the pain) came new waves (what were the old waves?) of self-pity. (Brian) Sitting alone in the dark, his (Brian’s)leg aching, some mosquitoes finding him (Brian) again, he (Brian) started crying. It (the whole situation Brian was in) was all too much, just too much, and he (Brian) couldn’t take it(the situation).Not the way it (the situation)was. (What way was the situation? Don’t know yet. Suspense. Expect to find out in the next paragraph.)
“I (Brian)can’t take it (the situation) this way (what way? Still don’t know. Suspense), alone with no fire and in the dark (now we know “this way” means “alone with no fire and in the dark”),and next time it (the next situation) might be something worse(than this situation),maybe a bear, and it(the problem that will define the situation)wouldn’t be just quills in the leg, it (the problem)would be worse (than quills in the leg). I (Brian)can’t do this (deal with the problem situation), he (Brian) thought, again and again. I (Brian) can’t “do this (deal with the problem situation).” Brian pulled himself (Brian)up until he (Brian) was sitting upright back in the corner of the cave. He (Brian)put his (Brian’s) head down on his (Brian’s) arms across his (Brian’s) knees, with stiffness taking his (Brian’s) left leg, and cried until he (Brian)was cried out.”
Some key moves in building a text base… • Processing words and attaching meaning to them • Using syntax to solidify key relations among ideas • Microstructure • Macrostructure • Resolving reference--things that stand for other things (mainly pronouns and nouns) • Using logical connectives (before, after, because, so, then, when, while, but) to figure out the relations among ideas • Inferring omitted connectives (e.g., figuring out that A is the cause of B) based on PK about the world • Posing questions for short term resolution • Identifying ambiguities for later resolution (wait and see)
So how about building a situation model? • The knowledge-comprehension relationship • We use our knowledge to build a situation model for a text • The information in the situation model is now available to become part of our long term memory and store of knowledge • To assist in processing the next bit.
The blurb from the jacket of Hatchet gives a preview of the book: Thirteen-year old Brian Robeson is on his way to visit his father when the single engine plane in which he is flying crashes. Suddenly, Brian finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker and the hatchet his mother has given him as a present — and the dreadful secret that has been tearing him apart since his parents’ divorce. But now Brian has no time for anger, self-pity or despair — it will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive.
What a reader knows by Chapter 8 Brian is stranded in the Canadian wilderness with a hatchet and his wits as his only tools for survival. He already has overcome several obstacles, including surviving the plane crash, building a small shelter and finding food. In chapter eight, Brian awakens in the night to realize that there is an animal in his shelter. He throws his hatchet at the animal but misses. The hatchet makes sparks when it hits the wall of the cave. Brian then feels a pain in his leg. He sees the creature scuttle out of his shelter. Brian figures out that the animal was a porcupine because there are quills in his leg.
Some prior knowledge that a 5th grader might bring • What sparks look like • How it feels to be scared by an animal • How big porcupines are • To survive you have to have food, water and shelter • To survive you have to be strong
An actual retelling of key parts of chapter 8 from Sam, a 5th grade reader • The same text for which we just examined the text base…
Why is this model of iteratively constructing and integrating so important? • The mental (situation) model is central to knowledge construction • Building a mental model transforms new ideas and information into a form that can be added to memory, where they endure as knowledge that can be retrieved in the future. Unless readers build a mental model, the information they derive from the text is not likely to connect to their stored knowledge. The new information will be forgotten or lost. • Key role of knowledge: • Knowledge involved in even the most literal of processing • Knowledge begets comprehension begets knowledge… • Knowledge is available immediately: dynamic store…
How can we help students build solid text bases and rich and accurate situation models? • Do a good job of teaching subject matter in social studies, science, mathematics, and literature • Don’t let reading remain our curricular bully!
How can we help students build rich and accurate mental models? • Assist students in selecting appropriate knowledge frameworks to guide their construction process • Do everything possible to build as many connections as possible with other texts, experiences, knowledge domains • Do lots of “what does this remind you of?” • What is this like? How is it different from what it’s like?
How can we help students build rich and accurate mental models? • A different model of guided reading • Stop every once in a while and give the kids a chance to construct/revise their current mental model • Research study: • interview protocol proved to be very “instructive”
Begin with very general probes before getting specific • So what’s going on in this part? • What do we know now that we didn’t know before? • What’s new? • What was the author trying to get us to understand here? • Well!…say something!
Invite and support clarifications of tricky parts • Anyone want to share something that was tricky or confusing? • How about this part here…where it says…? • I got confused by… What do you think about this part? What was the author trying to get us to think.