Students who are good at reviewing their comprehension after reading, know when they understand what they read and when they did not. Students who check their comprehension, develop strategies to "fix" problems in their understanding as the problems arise. Research shows that instruction, even in the early grades, can help students become better at monitoring their comprehension.
Comprehension monitoring instruction teaches students to:
- Be aware of what they do understand
- Identify what they do not understand
- Use appropriate strategies to resolve problems in comprehension
2. Thinking about Reading
Good readers use strategies to think about and have control over their reading. Before reading, they might clarify their purpose for reading and preview the text. During reading, they might monitor their understanding, adjusting their reading speed to fit the difficulty of the text and "fixing" any comprehension problems they might have. After reading, they check their understanding of what they read.
3. Graphics for support!
Maps, webs, graphs, charts, frames or clusters of images can be used to illustrate relationships in a text. Regardless of which you choose, graphics can help readers focus and illustrate how they are related to their reading. Graphics also help students read and understand textbooks and chapter books with longer text.
Graphic organizers can:
- Help students focus on text structure "differences between fiction and nonfiction" as they read
- Provide students with tools they can use to examine and show relationships in a text
- Help students write well-organized summaries of a text
Questions can be effective because they:
- Give students a purpose for reading
- Focus students' attention on what they are supposed to learn
- Help students to think actively as they read
- Encourage students to keep track of their comprehension after reading.
- Help students to review content and relate what they have learned to what they already know
- "Right There"
Example: Who is Frog's friend? Answer: Toad
- "Think and Search"
Example: Why was Frog sad? Answer: His friend was leaving.
- "Author and You"
Example: How do think Frog felt when he found Toad? Answer: I think that Frog felt happy because he had not seen Toad in a long time. I feel happy when I get to see my friend who lives far away.
- "On Your Own"
Example: How would you feel if your best friend moved away? Answer: I would feel very sad if my best friend moved away because I would miss her.
5. Recognizing story structure
In story structure instruction, students learn to identify the content of their reading (characters, setting, events, problem, resolution). Often, students learn to recognize story structure through the use of story maps. Prioritization in the story structure improves students' comprehension.
Summarizing requires students to determine what is important in what they are reading and to put it into their own words. Instruction in summarizing helps students:
- Identify or generate main ideas
- Connect the main or central ideas
- Eliminate unnecessary information
- Remember what they read
Effective comprehension depends on good strategy instructions!
Research shows that teaching techniques are very important for instructing comprehension strategies when a student is done reading. During instruction, teachers or tutors tell readers why and when they should use strategies, what strategies to use, and how to apply them. The steps of instruction typically include direct explanation, teacher modeling ("thinking aloud"), guided practice, and application. Examples:
- Direct explanation
- Guided practice