Comprehension Defined

  • When reading text, your child will use several different strategies to understand what he/she read.


    Research shows that proficient readers use the following strategies naturally as they make sense of text; making predictions, making connections, summarizing, visualizing, questioning, and inferring.

    Students receive very specific instruction in each of these strategies. The children listen to a story being read by the teacher that supports the strategy being taught. While the teacher reads aloud, she shares the thoughts she is having. Eventually, the children practice using the strategy with the teacher's guidance, with the goal being that students will be able to independently use the strategy on his/her own when reading.  


    1. Making Predictions (September) 

    Using the text clues to think about what will happen next

    Activating ones background knowledge (schema) to assess "What do I already know?" and "What new information am I getting?"

    Using the language, "I predict ___ because the text said/showed ____."


    The documents (found at the bottom of the page) demonstrate four valid predictions for the same book, King of the Playground. Notice how "What do I see?" refers directly to what the child can see with his/her eyes from the pictures. "What do I know?" asks the child to use a combination of the information from the text as well as their schema to describe the events. The prediction is where the child is expected to say what he/she thinks will happen next, but it must tie directly back to the "What do I know?" box. Without the child linking these together, the prediction is not considered "valid." 


    2. Making Connections/Using Schema (October) 

    Readers use ones background knowledge to connect the text to ones own experiences (text-to-self connection), another story (text-to-text connection) or to the bigger, more expansive issues of the world (text-to-world connection)

    To help your child make connections while he/she is reading, ask,

    • What does this book remind you of?
    • What do you know about the book's topic?
    • How does this book remind you of another book?
    • Did you add any new information to your schema after reading this book?

    ***Examples for Text-to-Self Connections

    The Power Point (found at the bottom of the page) shows some of the most basic text-to-self connections students have made based off the story Quick as a Cricket. The character in the book compared himself to animals and the behavior they exhibit. For example, the boy says he is as strong as an ox, as happy as a lark, as nice as a bunny, etc. The students then came up with one way to describe themselves and an animal that would act in that manner. This is the most basic connection. This led up to what we call a valid text-to self connection. The children used the example they came up with in the basic connection part and then described how the story and their example are similar. See both sets of examples for a better understanding of what this would look like from the most basic connection to one that is valid.

    2. Summarizing/Retelling (November and December)

    Summarizing Fiction: readers are able to read a fictional story and summarize what has happened.  An effective summary is less than a minute and involves who the main characters were, where they were, what the problem was, how the problem was solved, and the ending to the story.

    In order to retell a story, I show the students a picture of a rainbow. I talk about how stories are like the arc of a rainbow in that they have a beginning, they rise up, eventually fall, and finally reach an end.

    CLAPS is an acronym I use to help students identify all the parts within a story; C-characters L-location A-action P-problem S-solution. When we talk about a story, we notice that the characters and location are introduced within the first two pages of text. The problem then occurs and the characters try a few attempts (the power of three) to solve the problem, until finally the problem is solved. Each of these parts can be placed sequentially along the arc.

    See the attachments at the bottom for some examples of story arcs we have used to retell a story.

    Summarizing Non-Fiction: readers are able to read nonfiction text and determine what the topic is, find the main idea, and recall important details.  Often, children just say as many facts as they can in a minute or less instead of determining which information is most important.

    3. Visualizing/Using Sensory Imaging (January)

    Readers create images/pictures in their mind as they read. For example: While reading Charlotte's Web, the reader can create mental images of the farm, the fair, or a close-up of Charlotte's infamous web.

    4. Questioning/Wondering (February)

    This strategy is the asking of questions and reading for answers to think more deeply about the text. Readers ask questions before, during, and after they read.

    With time, practice, and exposure to high-quality texts, students learn to ask higher level questions. They also discover that some of the questions they have may not get answered in the book they are reading and they may need to go to another source to find the answer to their question. This is especially true when reading non-fiction. Students begin to use the table of contents to search out the section that may answer their question or will search an on-line resource.

    Low level questions or wondering statements are either not specific enough, are not on the topic, or ones the reader likely knows the answer to and might include:

    • I wonder what the book will be about.
    • Why do polar bears hunt?
    • I wonder why the frog is green.

    More effective questions or wondering statements might be:

    • I wonder how a polar bear can survive in one of the coldest places on earth.
    • I wonder what makes the egg extraordinary.
    • How do bees communicate?

    5. Inferring (March)

    Using prior knowledge and text to understand implied meanings and form conclusions.

    It is about "reading between the lines." For example: I can infer that David's Mom is mad because I see her hands on her hips, and that's something that I've seen people do when they get mad.


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