COMPREHENSIONChallenges / Possible Solutions
My STAR students have weaknesses in alphabetics, fluency, and vocabulary. Do I even need to teach comprehension strategies? / Not yet. Their current reading problems are the consequence of weaknesses in the other components; therefore, the instructional focus should be on strengthening their alphabetics, fluency, and vocabulary skills. They are struggling to read and understand at word levels; comprehension strategies will tax their already consumed working memories (and maybe yours!). As your students build their word reading skills, rate, prosody, and word knowledge, their comprehension will improve.
In the meantime, check their comprehension of text during fluency instruction. After reading a paragraph or passage, stop and ask questions to make sure they have understood the intended meaning(s).
If my STAR students will benefit from comprehension strategies, how many do I teach? / Limit the number of strategies. It is more important to develop depth of understanding and application for 2-3 new strategies rather than lots of strategies. Review their Comprehension Interviews to determine which ones they already use and don’t use when selecting 2-3 new ones for instruction.
How do I teach summarizing? / There are two pre-requisites for summarizing:
- Some students may need to begin withidentifying the topic(what the text is mostly about).Have them count the number of times a word is used in the passage as a concrete way to identify the topic.
- Other students can begin with identifying the main ideas (the most important points the author makes about the topic in each paragraph).Tell them the main idea is oftenstated in the first sentence of each paragraph, sometimesin the last, and is occasionally embedded in the middle. Model and practice identifying the main idea.
- After students can identify the topic and main ideas, they are ready for summarizing or paraphrasing. Model how to combine main idea sentences into a summary paragraph. Provide guided practice using materials at their Instructional Levels.
How do I teach questioning? /
- Begin by discussing the 6 W questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and hoW.
- Post the 6 W questions in the classroom for reference.
- Model generatingas many W questions as you can using materials at easier Levels.
- Scaffold to having students generate a Who question, a What question, a When question etc. using materials at easier Levels.
- Put the 6 W questions on index cards; students can draw a card and then generate and answer a W question from the card using materials at easier Levels.
- When students are ready, have them apply questioning to materials at their Instructional Levels.
How do I teach fix-ups? There are so many on the handout! /
- Be sure students understand the need for stopping and fixing up what they do not understand. Talk aloud how good readers do this all the time – including you – especially when the text is unfamiliar or difficult.
- Review their Comprehension Interviews to determine which fix-ups they already use. Discuss which ones they use, why, and how.
- Introduce a few others – one at a time and explicitly.
- Further discuss which ones work best for them.
Which materials are recommended for STAR comprehension strategy instruction? /
- Popular published materials include: Timed Readings, 6-Way Paragraphs, and Endeavor units.
- Also consider using abridged (shorter versions) and leveled novels, newspaper articles (including News for You and Easy English News), and online blogs.
- High interest poetry can be used depending on the population of learners: Tupac Shakur, Langston Hughes, Edgar Allen Poe, Minnesota and Midwest poets.
- Use pre-GED materials so that students are improving their reading ability and working on their personal goal at the same time (motivation).
What specific materials work well for teaching compare and contrast? /
- Articles from newspapers often have comparing or contrasting topics.
- Short Reading Passages & Graphic Organizers to Build Comprehensionby Scholastic Professional Books.
- Charlesbridge Publishing workbooks:
Comparing and Contrasting A:~3.0 grade level
Comparing and Contrasting B: ~5.0 grade level
Comparing and Contrasting C:~7.0 grade level
Where do I find graphic organizers? /
- Check the comprehension section of the STAR Tookit for graphic organizers to download and print.
- Google “graphic organizers” and you will find many more than you can use!
Should we use a mix of fiction (narrative) and non-fiction (expository) passages for diagnostic reading assessment of comprehension? /
- Using only fictional passages may not give a complete picture of a student’s comprehension level. GED students will be reading mostly non-fiction for Social Studies, Science, and often Writing. Therefore, use a mixture of fiction and nonfiction passages for comprehension assessment to get a better picture.
- Note fiction and non-fiction Mastery Levels and consider the differences when selecting Instructional Levels for modeling, guided practice, or application.
Which text should be used for explicit instruction of text structures? /
- The text used for modeling and guided practice should clearly be organized into a fiction or non- fiction text structure.
- Use shorter, easier selections for modeling and guided practice; assign longer selections at Instructional Levels for application.
Developed by STAR 09/10 Participants and Trainers