What is it?
Comprehension is the ability to understand and interpret the text that is being read. In order to understand written text, a student must be able to accurately decode what they are reading, make connections from what they are reading to background knowledge, and to go beyonf surface level thinking to understand the text. Part of comprehension is knowing the meanings of a sufficient number of words and being able to draw conclusion based on what is being read. Comprehension is a combination of a child's ability to read while thinking and reasoning.
What does research say? (AKA...why is it important???)
Students who struggle with comprehension can become easily frustrated with reading and may develop a hate for it if not helped early on. This is not only a skill they will need through school but in life as well.
There are three different perspectives from which we can approach struggles with comprehension.....the student, the parent, and the teacher. Let's explore each perspective.
- What it feels like for the student
- Because it can take the student longer to read the text, they can have a harder time following along with everything going on around them. They may not understand a character's actions or feelings. Due to the lack of comprehension of the text, the student is unable to visualize in their minds what is happening in the text.
- What the parent sees at home
- At home, parents may notice that their child is unable to retell the story to them because they did not comprehend what they read. If they are able to summarize some of what they read, students may be unable to explain the reason behind certain events occuring in the story. The student is unable to link events from within the book to similar life experiences or with another text.
- What the teacher sees in the classroom
- In the classroom, the student may develop a "wrong idea" from the text because they are so focused on certain details that the main idea becomes lost. The student is able to tell the outcome of the story but is unable to explain why it happened that way. The student is unable to tell a logical sequence of events.
Use outlines, maps, and notes as you read to synthesize the text.
Form mental pictures to visualize the text as you read. Have the teacher or parent preview the book with the student before beginning to read the text.
Create flashcards of key terms that students need to remember in the text.
Ask students open-ended questions about the text after they have read it.
Teach students how to make predictions regarding the text and how to summarize what they have read.
Teach students about different text structures so they will understand how they are organized and what text features are used and why.