Reading is the process of making sense from print; comprehension is the goal of all reading. Comprehension is constructed by the reader, so no one understanding will match another’s, but how readers apply strategies as they process text influences the depth of understanding. There are four elements of reading: word identification, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary. We will begin with word identification, since it is the foundation of the reading process.
Word Identification Several terms are associated with the identification of words: word attack, word analysis, word recognition, decoding. These are often used interchangeably and suggest the act of translating print into speech through the analysis of letter-sound relationships. Each term is connected with what is commonly called “phonics”—a tool to analyze or attack words—which focuses attention on words parts and builds on phonemic awareness. “Word recognition” suggests a process of immediate word identification i. e. words retrieved from memory.
It includes the concept of sight words (or sight vocabulary) and suggests a reader’s ability to recognize words rapidly/automatically by making an association between a particular spelling/pronunciation/meaning by applying an internalized knowledge of letter-sound relationships. Word recognition together with word attack skills leads to word identification. Many children develop knowledge about print before entering school through purely visual cues. These children enter first grade fully ready to analyze words, but others do not. They rely on your explicitly-planned lessons.
Ehri’s study (as cited in Vacca, Vacca, Gove, Burkey, Lenhart, & McKeon, 2003) claimed that there were developmental phases in word identification, whose characteristics could be readily identified, as children progressed. •The pre-alphabetic stage includes visual clues, such as those found on cereal boxes, traffic signs, and restaurant logos (stop sign, Burger King, KFC, McDonald’s). •The partial alphabetic stage, emerging during kindergarten and grade 1, includes some knowledge about letter-sound relationships (“S” looks and sounds like “Sammy, the snake”).
•The full alphabetic stage includes enough knowledge about segmenting sounds (/c-l-o-ck/) to unlock the pronunciation of unknown words. •The consolidated alphabetic stage includes the ability to analyze multisyllabic words, using onsets and rimes. Fluency Fluency is the ability to read text in a normal speaking voice with normal intonation (the rise and fall of the human voice) and inflection (the pitch, stress and pauses). In the context of literacy, one is “fluent,” who can read with expression and comprehension. Students who are fluent have automaticity. They do not devote attention to decoding, but focus on the construction of meaning.
Problems in fluency are a major contributing factor to students’ lagging achievement. They often arise due to the lack of early contact with literacy or diverse linguistic background. Repetition is key to increasing fluency. A mixture of six methods helps to increase fluency. •Predictable text: Children can rely on their intuitive knowledge of language and sense to read with less and less assistance. Ex. Max’s Pet •Repeated readings: Children can practice reading aloud alone, with a classmate or parents, and to the principal. •Automated reading: Children can listen and read along with a tape, a CD, or a computer program.
They can also record themselves, listen, and repeat until fluent. •Choral reading: Children need to hear mature readers with expression. The oral reading of poetry with various voice combinations builds on a natural interest in rhythms and highlights the beauty of tonal qualities in spoken English. In choral reading, all fluency levels can participate in unison, take parts, or read refrains without embarrassment. •Readers’ Theater: This oral presentation of drama, prose or poetry involves children of all ages reading literature to audiences of children.
With a few props, perhaps, but no costumes and no memorized lines, the emphasis is on what the audience hears. •Sustained Silent Reading (SSR): Classes and sometimes entire schools establish a daily, fixed time period for silent reading of self-selected material. Teachers also read, and there are no content-related questions asked. Stories (or a copy of them) can be sent home for rereading, after students have become very familiar with them by rereading during class. The goal is to increase the “pleasure principle” and enable children to become lifelong readers.
To understand text, a reader actively searches for meaning and responds to text as s/he decodes. Readers learn to monitor their own comprehension through metacognition. The dimensions of active reading comprehension involve specific questioning skills that require readers to “grapple with text” in order to organize their background knowledge, clarify ideas and support opinion. •Question/Answer Strategy •Ask questions that elicit questions in return. Such questions stimulate interest/arouse curiosity; they draw students into the story. Ex. Not “What is this picture about? ” but “What would you like to know about this picture?
” •Question/Author Strategy •Students engage in dialog with the author: What is the author trying to say? What does the author mean? Is x consistent with what the author told us before? •Think-Aloud Strategy •Teachers model the think-aloud process initially in order to help students learn to make inferences, using clues from the text and background knowledge to make logical guesses about meaning. K-W-L (What do I Know? What do I Want to learn? What I Learned) is one kind of graphic organizer, which is a visual to help students summarize and organize expository information.
Building an awareness of underlying story structure enables students to organize information from narratives, so that they can better anticipate and make sense of what they read! •Simple structure: •Setting (Where? When? ) •Characters (Who? ) •Plot (Problem for which characters take action) •Complex structure: •Setting (Maybe more than one) •Characters •Plot (Two or more episodes with a chain of events; flashbacks, sometimes! ) Organizers are available commercially, but most teachers have a collection they may be happy to share. Vocabulary English has the largest vocabulary in the world: 600,000one million words.
Students learn about 88,000 words by ninth grade in order to process text. It’s been estimated that children learn about three-four thousand words per year, which averages 16-22 words per day. Do we teach every single word? No; students acquire vocabulary on their own through usage, not via systematic instruction. What are words? They are labels for concepts, mental images of something. Ex. The word “picnic” will call to mind different ideas for everyone. We organize concepts into hierarchies by common features or similar criteria in order to make sense of complexity in our environment.
Ex. The concept of “dog” has common characteristics, despite different breeds and behaviors. We have five vocabularies: listening, speaking, writing, reading, and body-language. The listening vocabulary develops first and is the largest until middle school, when the reading vocabulary becomes and ultimately remains the largest vocabulary. Our job as teachers is to promote students’ conceptual understanding of key vocabulary words, because learning words and expanding vocabulary has a strong influence on comprehension. What is the best means to teach vocabulary?
Through multiple, varied encounters with words. Six principles to guide vocabulary instruction include featuring key words: •that convey major ideas in literature and content areas; •in relation to other words to develop shades of meaning; •in relation to students’ background knowledge; •in pre- and post-reading activities; •taught systematically, in depth, and reinforced; •that interest you: telling stories about the origin and derivation of words helps to create student interest in words. We organize knowledge into conceptual hierarchies, and vocabulary study is a key factor.
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