Nature of Reading Comprehension
According to Samuels and Farstrup, reading comprehension can be considered the "product of word reading and language comprehension". Basically, to be able to comprehend, a reader must know how to decode text as well as comprehend the language being used. The text points out that both of these elements is vital, but that one without the other will not ensure success. This week's PowerPoint takes this a step further and breaks these two elements down further. Word recognition covers decoding skills, phonological awareness, and sight recognition while language comprehension is builds on the ideas of background knowledge, vocabulary, language structures, verbal reasoning, and literacy knowledge. For a teacher, that is quite a substantial list to undertake to ensure that students are taught to be skilled readers.
Development of Reading Comprehension
In order to ensure that we support our readers, it is important to understand the development of reading comprehension. The first introduction to language starts as early as birth. Early on, children learn to communicate and interpret meaning before they can speak on their own. I have seen this first hand with my own child. She learned quickly that crying gets our attention and tells us that she needs something, while smiling tells us that she is content and happy. Luckily for us, she is a pretty happy girl! While learning to communicate in these simple ways, babies are also learning to understand language as well. In a relatively short amount of time, children learn to understand "almost everything that adults say to them". They are also learning important processes, such as reasoning and inferring, both of which are helpful in reading.
The next step in development happens during the early elementary years when student learning focuses on decoding and general reading skills. This is the time when students are taught important reading skills such as inferencing and how to monitor their comprehension. According to The Development of Comprehension article by Duke and Carlisle, students also gain much of their language knowledge incidentally through exposure to the language usage of others.
Later in elementary school, the shift in learning focuses from the acquisition of reading and language skills to the implementation of these skills in content area learning. While the focus has shifted, readers are also gaining a deeper understanding of the foundational knowledge received in the lower elementary grades. This includes morphological awareness and syntactic awareness.
Assessment of Reading Comprehension
Reading comprehension is a hard thing to assess, which is probably why there have been so many attempts to find the perfect system. The reading by Pearson and Hamm pointed out, however, that most of these assessments were, in essence, designed prior to World War II. One means of measuring comprehension was a test to measure intelligence. It was determined that reading comprehension and intelligence were very difficult to discern in this test. To me, I took that as meaning that the higher intelligence scores were based on the fact that the test taker could better understand the questions and therefore perform better than struggling readers who may actually have a better understanding of the material. Another method developed is the CLOZE procedure, a method with which many teachers are familiar. The problem with this method is that is is unclear whether these types of assessments measure reading comprehension rather than the linguistic predictability. CLOZE was also proven ineffective in a study by Shanahan, Kamil, and Tobin which found that the results were not dependent on the context of the passage.
I'm Edie - wife, mom, teacher, instructional designer, home renovator,
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