7 Chapters
Medium 9781934009505

Part 6 Interventions for Facilitating Comprehension

McEwan-Adkins, Elaine K. Solution Tree Press ePub

 

Comprehension is understanding what one reads. Adler and Van Doren (1972) refer to it as “reading with x-ray eyes.” Extracting meaning from text involves enumerating the key facts, opinions, or ideas in expository text or retelling a narrative. Students must extract meaning to answer questions or summarize. However, comprehension is also about constructing meaning, a process whereby the reader brings a unique set of experiences and knowledge to the text, and from reading and interacting with peers and teachers, develops new (to the reader) insights and ideas that help to affix the reading experience in long-term memory. The cognitive processes in which skilled readers engage are far more challenging to teach than discrete skills like word identification.

Our understanding of these cognitive processes comes from a fascinating qualitative study that asked expert readers to think aloud regarding what was happening in their minds while they were reading (Pressley & Afflerbach, 1995). The lengthy scripts recording the spoken thoughts (such as think-alouds) of skilled readers regarding their cognitive processing are called verbal protocols. These protocols were then categorized and analyzed to answer specific questions, such as “What is the influence of prior knowledge on expert readers’ strategies as they determine the main idea of a text?” (Afflerbach, 1990)

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Part 2 Interventions for Building Phonemic Awareness

McEwan-Adkins, Elaine K. Solution Tree Press ePub

 

The words phonemic and phonological are often used interchangeably, but technically, phonological awareness is a more encompassing concept that includes all levels of the speech sound system, including words, syllables, rhymes, and phonemes (Moats, 2000). Think of phonological awareness as an umbrella and the various levels of the speech system as its spokes.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2000) reviewed multiple experimental and quasiexperimental studies of phonemic awareness instruction in skills such as blending and segmentation, and they reported positive effects on reading, spelling, and phonological development, not only for students at risk but for average learners as well (Ball & Blachman, 1991; Byrne & Fielding-Barnsley, 1989; Cunningham, 1990; Lie, 1991; Lundberg, Frost, & Peterson, 1988; O’Connor, Jenkins, & Slocum, 1993; Torgesen, Wagner, & Rashotte, 1997; Vellutino & Scanlon, 1987).

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Part 4 Interventions for Building Fluency

McEwan-Adkins, Elaine K. Solution Tree Press ePub

 

Since the release of the Report of the National Reading Panel (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000), fluency has become the new buzzword. Repeated oral reading of text has become the intervention strategy of choice for struggling readers. What the panel’s summary failed to point out, however, was what kind of text students should be repeatedly reading.

Seventy-four percent of the fluency studies reviewed by the National Reading Panel used texts with controlled vocabularies (for example, books with a carefully selected and limited number of words that are frequently repeated in the story so as to give students several practices at reading a word). Four of these studies used literature for repeated reading. Only one of the four literature-based studies reported any improvement in students’ fluency, and in that study, treatment and comparison groups did not differ significantly. What is crucial for practitioners to know is that the effect size for fluency reported by the National Reading Panel came from the studies that used texts with controlled vocabulary (Hiebert & Fisher, 2005). The implication of this research for practitioners is this: if you want to facilitate the development of fluency in your students, provide them with passages and books that contain limited and controlled vocabularies that ensure multiple encounters with words, rather than choosing literature that contains an abundance of rare and multisyllabic words that are only used once in the text.

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Part 3 Interventions for Building Word Identification Skills

McEwan-Adkins, Elaine K. Solution Tree Press ePub

 

Becoming a skilled reader with a large repertoire of sight words (words that have been decoded a sufficient number of times to become words that are recognized in under one second by the reader) requires knowledge of phonemic segmentation, letter-sound correspondences, and spelling patterns (Ehri, 1980, 1995, 1998; Rack, Hulme, Snowling, & Wightman, 1994; Reitsma, 1983; Share, 1999). The belief that children can become fluent readers only if they learn to skip words, sampling the visual information in text to support their hypotheses about its meaning, is erroneous. According to this belief, teachers are supposed to encourage guessing about words to help children become free from their so-called bondage to print. With skilled guessing, students can make it to about fourth grade before their guessing catches up with them.

In fact, the understanding of skilled reading that emerges from the past twenty years of scientific research is, again, just the opposite of the view of skilled readers as word skippers. Two important facts about the way that skilled readers process text are relevant to this new understanding. The first is that skilled readers fixate on, or look directly at, almost every word in the text as they read (Rayner & Pollatsek, 1989). Skilled readers read rapidly, not because they selectively sample words and letters as they construct the meaning of text but because they read the individual words rapidly and with little effort. They have solid visual representations of how words are spelled stored in their long-term memories. Researchers call them orthographic images or mental orthographic images (MOIs) to emphasize the fact that each letter of a word is fixed in the brain. We will use the term mental orthographic image throughout the book to refer to the visualization of correctly spelled words that students have fixed in their long-term memories.

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Part 5 Interventions for Building Vocabulary

McEwan-Adkins, Elaine K. Solution Tree Press ePub

 

Language development is inextricably linked to reading success (Biemiller, 1999), and vocabulary knowledge is an important predictor of reading comprehension. When Becker (1977) first posed the idea that the school failure of disadvantaged children was due to lack of vocabulary knowledge, it was a new idea that stimulated vigorous discussion and research regarding how many words students should be learning and how many they learn from direct instruction and incidentally at school (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1998; Nagy & Anderson, 1984).

Although the idea of “linguistically poor” students is no longer a new one, solutions to the problem continue to frustrate educators. While we may be able to teach discrete reading skills, we are depressingly familiar with what often happens to linguistically poor students once they leave the cocoon of the primary grades. If these students are not consistently, directly, and intensively taught word knowledge from the moment they enter school, their hard-won achievement gains from the primary grades will begin to fade as they struggle to handle the demands of more difficult upper-grade texts. Low-SES students, racial and ethnic minority students, and students whose first language is not English are especially hard-hit by what Moats (2001) calls “linguistic poverty” (p. 8).

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