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Comprehension strategies - Essay Example

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Helping students to comprehend narrative, expository and poetic texts is a challenge that faces all teachers. Regardless of subject or grade level, all teachers are teachers of reading. Many comprehension strategies have been developed over the past three decades…
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Helping to comprehend narrative, expository and poetic texts is a challenge that faces all teachers. Regardless of or grade level,all teachers are teachers of reading. Many comprehension strategies have been developed over the past three decades. While all can be applied to any of these three types of texts, some seem to naturally go with one more than another. Choosing “the best” for each one is not really possible, because teacher personality, state standards and concerns such as class size and student grouping all have bearing on which comprehension strategy should be used. The three strategies in this essay have all been used to good effect by myself or one of my former teachers. A good comprehension strategy for helping students to maximize their understanding of a c narrative text is an activity called “What is it?” This is an activity where students work individually and in cooperative groups to recall the most important elements of setting, character and plot. Students retell portions of the narrative text to one another while listening student record important points relating to setting, character and plot. This activity utilizes graphic organizers and is facilitated by the instructor. Retelling portions of the text allows the student speaking the opportunity to give voice to their impressions and remembrances of the narrative. Students listening use the graphic organizer to write points mentioned by the speaker. Each student in the group takes a turn adding to the growing list of setting, character and plot elements. After all have contributed, students compare their lists and add information they may have missed during the sharing portion of the cooperative activity. The combination of individual and cooperative work, coupled with listening and note taking makes this a powerful comprehension strategy (Lapp and Fisher, 2009). Expository texts are often full of main ideas, dates and sequential instructions (Aten, 2007). To comprehend this sort of text, developing the skill of summarizing is very important. One strategy that helps students to do this is known as “Survey, Read, Note” or SRN for short. When approaching an expository text, the student is given a graphic organizer divided into three sections for the assigned reading. Each section is labeled “Survey”, “Note” and “Summary”. Before reading, students survey the text, writing any information that is of a graphic nature in the “Survey” box. Special attention should be given to maps, photos, charts, graphs and artwork. Students next survey the heading of sections in the reading, if they are present. After noting this information, students write a simple statement about what they expect to learn about in the expository text. Once into the reading, student stop at the end of each section or paragraph and write what they feel the main idea was for the passage just read. After completing the reading, students review their main ideas and write a summary for the entire expository text. This is very helpful in helping the student to comprehend the big idea behind the reading they just accomplished. A final comprehension strategy that works especially well for poetry is visualization. We know that the mind uses visualization for all five senses, not just sight (Fontana, 2007). Poetry is unique that it seeks to enliven the senses and give the reader the sense of being drawn into the text through meter, rhythm and possibly rhyme. A visualization activity can help students to engage in a poetic text even when the meaning of the words when taken at surface level does not make much sense to them. One especially popular visualization strategy is called, “If You Were There”. Students interact with the poem by stopping to ask a partner, “If you were there, what would you be _________.” The blank is filled in by one of the five senses: seeing, hearing, feeling, touching and tasking. By visualizing yourself withing the world of the poem, student comprehension of the meaning and intent of the author will be heightened. Teachers work every day to help students comprehend the texts students use. Beyond a rote recital of the necessary facts required by the next standardized test, teachers want their students to understand all sorts of texts deeply. Comprehension strategies such as “Survey, Read and Note”, “IF You Were There” and “What is it?” allow students to retain and deepen their understanding of text through simple graphic organizers, cooperative learning and guided discussions. They are necessary in today's classroom and in today's educational world of high-stakes testing and labeling of schools as failing. Student comprehension is essential for students to have happy, productive lives at work and at home, will make them more valuable as students and workers and more useful to our society. Comprehension is the basis for all other learning, so using proven strategies that increase the comprehension of texts is very important. Works Cited Aten, Jerry. Reading Comprehension. Greensboro, NC: Rainbow Bridge, 2007. Print. Fontana, David. Creative Meditation & Visualization. London: Watkins Pub., 2007. Print. Lapp, Diane, and Douglas Fisher. Essential Readings on Comprehension. Newark, DE: International Reading Association, 2009. Print. Read More
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