Teaching Reading Strategies by Using a Comprehension Framework

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The COR Reading Comprehension Framework

Last year, I was fortunate to be involved in a year long professional development project for teachers from a range of independent Queensland schools. The project involved the implementation of the COR Reading Comprehension Framework into our classrooms to improve the teaching and learning of comprehension strategies. The COR framework project was based on the findings of Dr Gary Woolley's (2006) PhD thesis dissertation: The development, documentation, and evaluation of a strategy-training program for primary school students with reading comprehension difficulties. The focus of the dissertation was the Comprehension of the Narrative intervention program. Although the framework was developed to assist students with learning difficulties, it can also be implemented as a whole-class approach and modified to suit a particular year level.

The COR Framework

The COR framework allows students to be active researchers and supports the application of conscious thinking and metacognitive processes while reading and comprehending texts. This is achieved by using the COR lesson procedures to scaffold learning and to build on prior knowledge during each of the six stages of the program which has been based on Bloom's Taxonomy. Each lesson incorporates a before, during and after reading phase where the students can apply their newly learnt strategies to the narrative or information texts at the word, sentence, paragraph and discourse levels. Each phase of the COR framework draws on a set of skills as summarised in Table 1.

Implementing the COR Framework into a Reading Hour

I implemented the comprehension framework as part of my Reading Hour in my Year 2 classroom. The Reading Hour comprises of a whole/part/whole approach. We were working on an animal unit titled All Creatures Great and Small and were studying the characteristics and habitats of different animals. At the beginning of our Reading Hour, I introduced the big book Please Don't Feed the Bears and encouraged the students to activate prior knowledge by posing the question 'What do I already know about bears?' I then modelled making a concept map on the whiteboard of the students' known words and information about bears. During the modelled reading, I used think-aloud strategies and modelled using 'clicks' and 'clunks':

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When we are reading and we can read the words and understand what we are reading we click, click, click along but when we come to a word we don't know or understand the meaning of we clunk and stop. Then when we find a clunk, what fix-up strategies can we use to solve the clunk?

The strategies were printed on A4 Clunk Expert cards and laminated so that the students could refer to them during shared, guided and independent reading. After the reading, we reviewed the facts and added new words and information to the concept map.

Reading Groups and the COR Framework

The next phase of the Reading Hour was cooperative group work. Here, the students worked in their allocated reading groups with a teacher, teacher aide or classroom helper on the following tasks: Guided Reading; Comprehension; Constructing a Concept Map; Visualising.

1. Guided Reading, working with texts and generating questions

During guided reading of the text Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the students worked with a teacher aide with the focus of the lesson being on generating questions before, during and after the reading of the text. The teacher aide and students used question cards to assist them generate questions. This started as only an oral lesson as the focus was on the discussion by activating prior knowledge, making predictions, identifying details, determining the main idea, identifying clunks, sharing information and generating questions to locate new information. Eventually, the students reached the stage where they were recording questions before, during and after reading texts in their Learning Journals and posing questions for their peers to answer. …