Comprehension Instruction Sharon Walpole University of Delaware


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Comprehension Instruction

  • Sharon Walpole

  • University of Delaware

  • Michael C. McKenna

  • Georgia Southern University


Our Goal: Build Real Literacy

  • The knowledge and skills that allow all children, from all families, to read and write authentic texts for authentic purposes



Comprehension

  • It’s the one thing we all agree on as the most important goal in reading instruction

  • So why is it so difficult?























































































Anticipation Guide













What is comprehension?

  • Comprehension is understanding what is heard or read.

  • Comprehension of any text involves creation of an integrated and coherent representation of the text.

  • Comprehension may or may not lead to memory for text or text ideas.



Start with the learner, who brings prior knowledge, perhaps in the form of schemata

  • Start with the learner, who brings prior knowledge, perhaps in the form of schemata

  • Schemata are organized, connected to one another, and grow and change

  • Schemata are influenced by new learning

  • Schemata can be wholly restructured

  • Schemata are both involved in comprehension and developed as in comprehension





Comprehenders process and parse linguistic information

  • Comprehenders process and parse linguistic information

  • That parsing activates connections in the knowledge net

  • Comprehenders must build inferences between the language in the text and their knowledge – that leads to creation of a macrostructure for the text

  • Successful inferences between text and knowledge build knowledge

  • Kintsch, 1994







Defining Comprehension

  • Text comprehension is a very complex combination of extraction and construction

  • Text comprehension is constrained by knowledge

  • Text comprehension is constrained by decoding and fluency



RAND’s heuristic for thinking about reading comprehension







Good Assessment Formats

  • Must extend beyond mere parroting of information

  • Should assess the extent to which the child has truly processed the content

  • Should be based on texts of more than a single sentence

  • Should account for prior knowledge



  • What barriers can you see to implementing these good assessment formats?





























































































































  • Now that we know what comprehension is and how it might be assessed, we turn attention to how it might be developed in your classrooms. We’ll start with some basics, and then move to more specific research-based findings.



What Should Comprehension Instruction Be About?

  • Decoding skills

  • Sight words

  • Word meanings

  • Wide reading

  • Use of prior knowledge

  • Strategies



Strategies are ways of using skills for specific purposes.



Strategies . . .

  • change with the situation;



Strategies . . .

  • change with the situation;

  • must eventually be guided by the reader, not the teacher;



Strategies . . .

  • change with the situation;

  • must eventually be guided by the reader, not the teacher;

  • can be modeled and taught.





Explicit Instruction Model

  • Present and explain the strategy.

  • Model the strategy for students.

  • Use the strategy collaboratively.

  • Provide guided practice.

  • Provide independent practice.

  • Duke & Pearson, 2002





The State of Comprehension Instruction

  • Dolores Durkin (1978-1979) observed 4th grade teachers assessing and assigning, but not teaching comprehension

    • Little evidence since then that anything has changed, at least not on a large scale


NRP Report on Comprehension



There is much that NRP said we DON’T know about teaching comprehension

  • What are the best ways of teaching teachers?

  • Does comprehension strategy instruction transfer to content learning?

  • Which strategies work best at which ages and abilities?

  • Do effective strategies work with all genres?



But here are the NRP Findings

  • Many approaches have some level of research evidence.

  • For example, stressing mental images and mnemonics can be effective.

  • But seven instructional approaches have a clear scientific basis.





Comprehension Monitoring





Using “Fix-Up” Strategies



Using “Fix-Up” Strategies

  • Rereading



Using “Fix-Up” Strategies

  • Rereading

  • Reading on



Using “Fix-Up” Strategies

  • Rereading

  • Reading on

  • Reflecting



Using “Fix-Up” Strategies

  • Rereading

  • Reading on

  • Reflecting

  • Seeking outside information



Modeling Fix-up Strategies

  • Rereading

  • Reading ahead

  • Reflecting

  • Seeking information outside the text.



All spiders are poisonous. Of the more than 26,000 known species, all use poison to kill their prey. Few spiders are harmful to humans, however.



All spiders are poisonous. Of the more than 26,000 known species, all use poison to kill their prey. Few spiders are harmful to humans, however.



Cooperative Learning



Reciprocal Teaching



Reciprocal Teaching

  • was inspired by ReQuest.

  • Helps small groups apply strategies together.

  • is by far the most thoroughly validated approach to comprehension strategy instruction.



Strategies in Reciprocal Teaching

  • Predicting

  • Clarifying

  • Questioning

  • Summarizing



Stages in Preparing Students

  • Teach the four key strategies.

  • Model how to apply the four strategies.

  • Provide practice in applying the strategies, and gradually shift more responsibility to the students.





Form mixed groups of 4-6



Introduce the topic.



Remind students of the strategies.

  • Predict

  • Read

  • Clarify

  • Question

  • Summarize



Appoint a “teacher” in each group.



Post the steps for all to see.

  • Choose one student as the teacher

  • Preview the text and determine a stopping point based on the headings

  • Read the first section

  • Have the leader guide the RT discussion

  • Choose a new leader and continue to work through the steps



















Generating Questions





Teaching children to answer questions

  • Question and Answer Relationships















Summarizing



Teaching children to retell

  • Start with a story map, appropriate to the grade level

    • Simple beginning, middle, end map for first and second grade
    • More complex map for third and fourth grade
  • Model, model, model using the story map to retell stories you are reading aloud or reading in small groups



Teaching Children to Summarize

  • Hare and Borchardt (1984) developed procedures for direct instruction in summarization.

  • Before you start to write

  • 1. Make sure you understand the text

  • 2. Look back and reread to check for understanding

  • 3. Reread a paragraph. Ask yourself what the theme is. Find a topic sentence or write one.



Summarizing, cont.

  • While you are writing

  • 1. Collapse lists

  • 2. Use topic sentences

  • 3. Get rid of unnecessary details

  • 4. Collapse paragraphs

  • After writing

  • Polish your work. Make sure that your summary sounds natural.



  • To what extent do you see these single strategies in your materials?



Combining Strategies for Readers



Direct Explanation

  • Introduce the text

  • Introduce the strategy

    • Declarative Knowledge: What strategy is to be learned and used?
    • Procedural Knowledge: How is that strategy actually employed?
    • Conditional Knowledge: When and why should that strategy should be used?
  • Model the strategy by thinking aloud

  • Help readers to practice the strategy

  • Read the text both to understand it and to practice the strategy

  • Discuss both the text and the strategy



Research on Direct Explanation

  • Initial training included:

    • Presentations on DE
    • Lesson plan design by teachers
    • Observation and feedback
  • Effects on students

    • They developed declarative, procedural, and conditional knowledge of the strategies
    • The did not have better standardized comprehension scores
  • Duffy et al., 1987



More DE

  • Second study of DE included more intensive professional development

    • Presentations on DE
    • Lesson plan design by teachers
    • Observation and feedback
    • One on one coaching
    • Collaborative discussions
    • Videotaped model lessons
  • Effects on students

    • Students again learned about strategies
    • Students did use more of the basal skills
    • Students used and described reasoning during reading
    • Standardized test scores improved


What were the secrets to success?

  • Teacher’s helped students realize they “needed” the strategies

  • Teachers helped students apply it immediately

  • Teachers modeled the cognitive secrets

  • Teachers helped students apply the strategy repeatedly

  • Teachers assessed both understanding of the strategy and understanding of the text

  • Teachers maintained focus on the strategy



Transactional Strategies Instruction

  • Organize community of readers who discuss, interpret, and respond to texts

  • Before, during, and after reading, provide

  • Scaffolding

  • Direct explanation and guided practice of strategies matched to the text and student interactions



Transactional Strategies Instruction

  • Teacher and children are active, sharing their thinking, with teachers’ actions guided by children’s reactions, in a collaborative and social setting

  • Direct explanation and careful scaffolding of a small set of strategies across the school day and across the elementary years



TRIO

  • Goal: Teach children how to use at least two comprehension processes to eliminate a misunderstanding

  • Teach a strategy to the whole class, including modeling and demonstration

  • Reteach to a small group, using different examples

  • Individualize one-on-one, with coaching

  • Use Others (including specialists and specialized materials) if this does not work

  • Block, Shallert, Joy & Gain, 2002



  • To what extent are your reading programs attending to these findings? What specific goals do you have to improve upon the comprehension instruction you are seeing?

















































Rules of Thumb

  • Children benefit from comprehension instruction in which they are active and engaged learners, expected to form an integrated and coherent understanding of the text.



Rules of Thumb

  • Children benefit from comprehension instruction in which they are explicitly taught how to use different kinds of knowledge: text knowledge, vocabulary knowledge, and world knowledge



Rules of Thumb

  • Children benefit from comprehension instruction that is organized so that they are explicitly taught a variety of cognitive and metacognitive strategies.



Rules of Thumb

  • Children benefit from comprehension instruction that is organized so that teachers are continually assessing individual students and using that assessment to plan instruction.



Putting it all together

  • Before reading:

  • Teach individual words that will be difficult to decode or to understand

  • Model a strategy that will be useful in the day’s reading. Give declarative, procedural, and conditional knowledge.



During reading:

  • During reading:

  • Interrupt the reading at critical junctures to support strategy use.

  • Engage children in discussions or written responses.



  • After reading

  • Engage children in discussion or written responses.

  • Review and evaluate the text content.

  • Review and evaluate strategy use.



Implementation Across Ages and Stages



  • How do we help teachers develop their expertise?



Supporting Teachers

  • History

  • Individual strategies taught through think aloud approaches

  • Use of gradual release of responsibility models (modeling, scaffolded practice, individual application)

  • Introduction of multiple strategies approaches



More Recent Work

  • Teachers learning to use TSI needed

    • Expert models with THEIR children
    • Observation and feedback from a coach
    • Peer collaboration
    • Scripted practice lessons
    • Research reports
    • Classroom materials


Many Additional Struggles for Teachers

  • Differentiate between strategies and skills

    • A skill is something that we do automatically
    • A strategy is a set of procedures that we can employ to solve a problem
  • Differentiate between cognitive strategies and instructional strategies

    • Predicting, accessing prior knowledge, and generating questions are cognitive strategies
    • KWL is an instructional strategy




Professional development cycle









Connect Research to Practice

  • Observe to investigate the extent to which teachers are using the resources they have.



Connect Research to Practice

  • Analyze available data to see the relationship between instruction and achievement.



Connect Research to Practice

  • Provide time for cooperative discussion and planning for comprehension instruction.



Provide Support and Follow-Up



Provide Support and Follow-Up

  • Consider collecting video-taped lessons and arranging peer visitations



Provide Support and Follow-Up

  • Design connections to comprehension instruction that are appropriate for independent work



  • Where are you now with regards to comprehension instruction?

  • Where do you want to go?

  • How are you going to get there?



Back to our Model

  • Develop children’s phonemic awareness

  • Develop children’s decoding skills

  • Develop children’s fluency

  • Develop children’s vocabulary knowledge

  • Develop children’s comprehension strategy knowledge



Afflerbach, P. (2002). Teaching reading self-assessment strategies. In C.C. Block & M. Pressley (Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices (pp. 96-111). New York: Guilford.

  • Afflerbach, P. (2002). Teaching reading self-assessment strategies. In C.C. Block & M. Pressley (Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices (pp. 96-111). New York: Guilford.

  • Anderson, V. (1992). A teacher development project in transactional strategy instruction for teachers of severely reading-disabled adolescents. Teaching and Teacher Education, 8, 391-403

  • Anderson, R., & Pearson, P.D. (1984). A schema-theoretic view of basic processes in reading. In P.D. Pearson,R. Barr, M. Kamil, & P. Mosenthal (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research (pp. 255-291). New York: Longman.

  • Beck & McKeown, 1981). Developing questions that promote comprehension: The story map. Language Arts, 58, 913-918.

  • Block, C. C., Shaller, J., Jy, J. A., & Gaine, P. (2002). Process-based comprehension instruction. In C. C. Block & M. Pressley (Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices (pp. 42-61). New York: Guilford Press.



  • Brown, R., Pressley, M., Van Meter, P., & Schuder, T. (1996). A quasi-experimental validation of transactional strategies instruction with low-achievement second-grade readers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 18-37.

  • Cazden, C. (1986). Classroom discourse. In M. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (3rd ed., pp. 432-462). New York: Macmillan.

  • Duffy, G.G. (2002). The case for direct explanation of strategies. In C. C. Block & M. Pressley (Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices (pp. 28-41). New York: Guilford Press.

  • Duffy, G.G., Roehler, L.R., Sivan, E., Rackliffe, G., Book, C., Meloth, M.S., Vavrus., L.G., Wesselman, R., Putnam, J., & Bassiri, D. (1987). Effects of explaining the reasoning associated with using reading strategies. Reading Research Quarterly, 22, 347-368.

  • Duke, N. K. & Pearson, P. D. (2002). Comprehension instruction in the primary grades. In C.C. Block & M. Pressley (Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices (pp. 247-258). New York: Guilford.

  • El-Dinary, P. B. (2002). Challenges of implementing transactional strategies instruction for reading comprehension. In C.C. Block & M. Pressley (Eds.) Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices (pp.201-215). New York: Guilford Press.



Kintsch, W. (1994). The role of knowledge in discourse comprehesion: A construction-integration model. In R.. Ruddell, M. R. Ruddell, & H. Singer (Eds.), Theoretical models and Processes in Reading (4th ed). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  • Kintsch, W. (1994). The role of knowledge in discourse comprehesion: A construction-integration model. In R.. Ruddell, M. R. Ruddell, & H. Singer (Eds.), Theoretical models and Processes in Reading (4th ed). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

  • Palinscar, A.S., & Brown, A. l. (1984). Reciprocal teaching of comprehension-fostering and monitoring activities. Cognition and Instruction, 1, 117-175.

  • Pearson, P.D., & Gallagher, M.C. (1983). The instruction of reading comprehension. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 8, 317-344.

  • Pressley, M. (2002). Comprehension strategies instruction: A turn-of-the-century status report. In C. C. Block & M. Pressley (Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices (pp. 11-27). New York: Guilford Press.

  • Pressley, M., El-Dinary, P.B., Gaskins, I., Schuder, T., Bergman, J., Almasi, L., & Brown, R. (1992). Beyond direct explanation: Transactional instruction of reading comprehension strategies. Elementary School Journal, 92, 511-554.



Pressley, M., and Collins Block, C. (2002). Summing up: What comprehension instruction could be. In C.C. Block & M. Pressley (Eds.) Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices (pp.383-392). New York: Guilford Press.

  • Pressley, M., and Collins Block, C. (2002). Summing up: What comprehension instruction could be. In C.C. Block & M. Pressley (Eds.) Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices (pp.383-392). New York: Guilford Press.

  • RAND Reading Study Group. (2002). Reading for understanding: Toward an R&D program in reading comprehension. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Education.

  • Raphael, T. (1986). Teaching question-answer relationships, revisited. Reading Teacher, 39: 516-523.

  • Sinatra, G. M., Brown, K. J., & Reynolds, R. E. (2002). Implications of cognitive resource allocation for comprehension strategies instruction. In C. C. Block & M. Pressley (Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices (pp. 62-76). New York: Guilford Press.

  • Smith, F. (1988). Understanding reading (4th ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

  • Smolkin, L.B., & Donovan, C.A. (2002). “Oh, excellent, excellent question!” Developmental differences and comprehension acquisition. In C.C. Block & M. Pressley (Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices (pp. 140-157). New York: Guilford.

  • Sweet, A. P., & Snow, C. E., Eds. (2003). Rethinking reading comprehension. New York: Guilford Press.




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