Promoting Reading Comprehension in the Early Grades
- Did you ever have a student who could recite the words of a text perfectly but had no idea what the text was about?
- Have you ever felt frustrated because one or more of your students oculd not pass the reading comprehnsion tests despite all your hard work?
- Have you ever felt that you do not know what comprehension strategy to use next in order to help your students comprehend?
- WELL, THIS COURSE IS FOR YOU!
My Experience with the Teaching of Comprehension Strategies
When I was a junior in college, I performed a case study on a fourth grade student, named Clarissa. Although her decoding and fluency skills were adaquate, she did not comprehend what she was reading. After various tests were administered, I determined that she was reading at a first grade level. Consequently, in order to improve Clarissa's comprehension, I implemented the strategies which are discussed in this course. Through a combination of strategies, including vocabulary, narrative, and expository, Clarissa significantly improved her reading comprehension over a ten-week period. Many times, after she used the strategies while reading, she exclaimed that reading is fun and that the strategies helped her to understand the text.
The current literature supports the idea that comprehension strategies or strategies to improve metacognition enhance reading comprehension in elementary students. According to Boulware-Gooden, Carreker, Thornhill, and Joshi, "...reading instruction does not end when students can decode the words. They continue to need instruction that will support their understanding of what they are reading" (2007, p. 71). Interviews with fourth and fifth grade teachers illustrate that teachers often fail to directly incorporate comprehension strategies on a regular basis. While some of these teachers use the strategies as assessment tools, others only passively mention the use of strategies to their students (2007). Nonetheless, some researchers have found that the inclusion of even one strategy, such as predicting, is beneficial to reading comprehension, and when students can choose from a multitude of strategies, they significantly improved understanding of text (Pressley, Wharton-McDonald, & Mistretta-Hampston, 1998). Therefore, comprehension strategies appear to be extremely beneficial to reading comprehension.
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Boulware-Gooden, R., Carreker, S., Thornhill, A., & Joshi, R. M. (2007). Instruction of metacognitive strategies enhances reading comprehension and vocabulary achievement of third-grade students. The Reading Teacher, 61(1), 70-77. doi: 10.1598/RT.61.1.7
Pressley, M., Wharton-McDonald, R., Mistretta-Hampston, J., & Echevarria, M. (1998). Literacy instruction in 10 fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms in upstate New York. Scientific Studies of Reading, 2(2), 159-194.
Scharlach, T. D., & Galda, L. (2008). START comprehending: Students and teachers actively reading text. The Reading Teacher, 62(1), 20-31. doi: 10.1598/RT.62.1.3