Magazine article Practical Literacy

Reading Comprehension Strategy Instruction with a Focus on the Early Years

Magazine article Practical Literacy

Reading Comprehension Strategy Instruction with a Focus on the Early Years

Article excerpt

For many years teachers have taught reading with a focus on self-monitoring strategies. This understanding has enabled early childhood teachers to give children a wonderful introduction into the delights of being a reader. Over the past twenty years a growing body of knowledge has shown that when children are explicitly taught reading comprehension strategies, they use them in an integrated manner to enhance their understanding. As a result, explicitly teaching reading comprehension strategies through the use of rich texts has significantly impacted the practice of many primary school teachers with whom I have worked.

Teaching reading comprehension strategies has made us revisit the major elements of a teaching and learning cycle or otherwise known as the gradual release model:

* giving an explicit description of the strategy and when and how it should be used

* thinking aloud (modelling)--let children into your strategies * using the strategy collaboratively (doing it together)

* providing time for guided practice using the strategy

* using the strategies and reminders when reading independently.

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Understanding key reading strategies: predicting, activating prior knowledge, connecting, inferring, visualising, summarising, self-questioning and determining importance has given teachers a common language to talk to children about their 'reading thinking'.

We have become aware that activating prior knowledge and connecting what readers know to new information is the core of learning and understanding, and teachers of learners as young as four are working with young children to support them to make connections between text to self, text to text and text to the world, helping them to bring deeper meaning to the text.

Knowing now that inferring is at the heart of making meaning--as readers draw conclusions and form interpretations of text, use prior knowledge and textual clues--children are being encouraged to infer from their earliest experiences with texts. …

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