Many of my posts are about the glamorous side of being a school psych, the fun n’ games dealing with bureaucracy monsters*, and the general tomfoolery of working in public education. I thought it was high time I offered up something actually useful for those of you in the trenches along with me, who sit in intervention meetings and everyone turns to you for the good suggestion.
For those who read for the cute stories and/or have a morbid curiosity about 10 year olds who pack heat in their backpacks (true story), we’ll see you next post!
For the hard core intervention peeps who believe in having a huge arsenal of weapons of mass instruction,** I give you:
Strategies for Students with Reading Comprehension Problems
Here’s a little side lesson about roots and suffixes before we begin.
Dys = abnormal or difficult
Lexia = word
So "Dys-lexia" is a reading disability that affects students at the word-level of reading. These are the kids who struggled with phonics in elementary, can’t decode multi-syllabic words easily in middle school, and laugh in high school when you ask, “do you ever read for fun?” because it is so laborious to try and decode every single word you come across. Their reading fluency is impaired and they lose the meaning. I tell my yoots: reading is like riding a bicycle—if you go too slow, you fall off. These students "fall off" in terms of comprehension because they are spending all their mental energy on decoding the individual words.
But there are other kinds of reading disabilities. There are the kids who can decode, but haven’t a clue what they just read. It is not unlike when you “read” a whole page in a book and then realize you didn’t really read it. The eyes were moving across the page, and the words were being "read," but there wasn’t any comprehension. These kids are typically really smart and they can articulate thoughts in class, but have a surprisingly low level of understanding what they read, given their intellect.
These kids (and all kids, really) benefit from a number of strategies for reading comprehension. Some of the strategies I pulled together from watching great teachers, some are "classics", and a few are from the New Teacher Project. Enjoy!
Rapid Reviewing • Rapid reviewing improves both reading comprehension and memory • After reading a section of text, students write down everything they can remember without looking back at the text. • If they can’t remember at least 80% of the key points, they have read too much material before reviewing. • They then reread the material and repeat the process until the key points can be recalled
Metacognitive Journals • Students analyze their own thought processes in a journal, in which a page is divided into two columns separately titled: “What I learned,” and “How I came to learn it.” They record their thinking during and/or after reading • The format can be modified with other prompts as well, such as “Passage/Text,” “What I think it means” and “Thoughts/Questions/Connections I had to the text”
The Insert Process/Marking the text • Readers remain active while using symbols to represent their thoughts as they read, such as, “!” when you agree with the author, “?” for questions and “*” for new learning. Students can use sticky notes (Post-it notes) if they are unable to mark in the text. • These markings should be revisited for further reflection/clarification after reading. • A chart of possible symbols can be downloaded at http://www.readwritethink.org/lesson_images/lesson230/insert.pdf.
Questioning the Text/Author • As readers notice the breakdown of meaning, they come up with questions to ask the author about the book for clarification and understanding. • The questions are intended to help the reader better understand any confusing areas, and assists the reader in targeting appropriate strategies to repair meaning.
Graphic Organizers • Graphic organizers are visual representations that show how key concepts are related and/or organized. They are important because they help readers visualize connections between ideas within the text and organize the new information. • The visual representation and organization of information helps students build their text base and make sense of the text. • Examples include problem/solution, statement/ support, sequence, cause/effect, compare/contrast, and argument.
KWL In this strategy, students use a graphic organizer to establish: • K- what they already know about the topic; • W- what they want to know or learn about the topic; • L- what they have learned after reading.
There are two popular modifications of the KWL teaching strategy: • KWWL- what I know, what I want to know, where can I find the information, what I have learned • KWLH- what I know, what I want to know, what I have learned, how I learned it
SQ3R This strategy is an acronym for the five steps that comprise the strategy: • S-Survey - students survey the reading material to develop an idea of its contents. • Q-Question - students formulate questions about the text. These questions become their purpose for reading. • R-Read - students read the text to answer the questions they formulated. • R-Recite - students either jot notes about the text or discuss with a partner. • R-Review - students review what they have learned by discussing their process with a partner and reviewing their notes. Finally, they answer their questions
Connection Chart • This strategy calls for students to keep a running record of connections made as they read. Students are given a chart with three columns labeled for each of the different types of connection (text-to-self, text-to-world, text-to-text). As students read, they record their connections on sticky notes and place them in the appropriate column.
Using Social Networking for Character Analysis • Students create a mock “Facebook” or “Myspace” page for a character in a book, a historical figure, or a current political figure. • Students “characters” can interact, depending on if they would have been “friends” or not. • This technique allows students to put themselves in the shoes of the characters and understand the underlying motivations, behaviors, etc.
*e.g. I called HR nine times yesterday to find out a simple thing. Nine times. No answer. Really? No voicemail there either? I guess they like the “While You Were Out” 1980s pink notes as much as my schools do. Which would be fine if they answered the phone to take a message. I’m gonna have to drive to the ‘hood tomorrow to ask a question, I just know it.
**Trenches and weapon metaphors in an education post? I guess it's my feeble attempt to make this post relevant to Veteran’s Day.