Monday, March 22, 2010

Facilitating Students' Comprehension: Text Factors

March 16

Talk about a detailed chapter – Tompkins’s chapter 9 goes into intricate depth about text factors (narrative genres, story elements, and narrative devices), informational book text factors (nonfiction genres, expository text structures, and nonfiction features), and poetic text factors (book formats, poetic forms, and poetic devices). What particularly interested me, however, was the thought that as teachers teach students about the text factors, the students’ comprehension of the text as a whole increases (p. 311). After considering the thought longer, however, it makes sense that spending time on these factors leads to a better understanding of literacy because these steps are showing children the many different ways to look at their books. It’s as if they give them a new set of eyes to look through when reading a piece of literature – sharper eyes.

In my own experience in the classroom, it seems as if the students merely read to read and fail to truly grasp the meaning behind their literature. We give them a social studies assignment, consisting of reading a 3-page chapter and answering questions at the end of it, and they cannot focus long enough to truly understand and respond. To take Tompkins’s advice, I think it would be a great idea to use think-alouds to “help students internalize the information and apply it when they’re reading and writing.” (p.312)


  1. I really relate to your comment about reading to read and failing to grasp any meaning. In first grade especially reading is not "cool" nor fun for many kids and they don't engage in what they read. I suppose getting texts about things they are interested in would help, but we seem to have a pretty healthy library in our classroom. And as far as think-alouds, you are 100% right on with that!

  2. I agree with you Kelly. In my class it seems like students only read to read. I think the students in my class look for similarities within their own lives and relate it to the book instead of looking deeper into the meaning. The students in my class do not really engage in what they are suppose to be learning. I agree with Parker too that think alouds might be a good alternative in my CT's classroom as well. I think any activity to get the students thinking in a playful way will interest the children.

  3. Kelly, you bring up several important points in the chapter. Overall, I agree the most with your opinion that it is essential for children to look at text in various ways for deeper and analytical ways of understanding them. There are more opportunities for the children to interpret the stories due to their “sharper eyes.” Hence, it is important for students to practice various genres of literature, and learning of text factors for those genres to comprehend the different characteristics they observe while reading individual texts.