Monday, March 1, 2010

USEing comprehension strategies

I think one of the most important points brought up in this particular chapter of Tompkins' is summed up in the review box on page 283: teachers teach students how to use comprehension strategies and skills. This is crucial; in fact, I would say that it is the foundation on which all literacy should be based. If a student does not know how to comprehend what he/she is reading, skills MUST be taught to the student AND utilized by the student as a next step. It starts at teaching students how to read words, follows through teaching them how to comprehend, and does not stop until the student fully understands the text that they are reading. Otherwise, reading is of no worth.

In my classroom, most of the students know how to read with a fair amount of ease (how sad it is that I can only say "most" -- some STILL struggle with basic reading in 5th grade!), yet a vast majority of them do not comprehend what they are reading. It is a familiar practice in the classroom that texts are read once silently by oneself, then out-loud by alternating classmates, yet as soon as questions are assigned to the reading, hands shoot up all over the room, accompanied by fits of "I need helllllp!" and "I don't understsannnnd!" It is quite possibly the most frustrating thing.

I feel that if I could get the students to not only understand comprehension strategies but actually use them on their own motivation, they would be much more self-sufficient in assignments and reading in general. It's just a task to actually get them to that point.

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