Reading for Meaning (Comprehension)

Reading for Meaning

Reading for meaning can be designed to meet your needs from a 2 hour introductory session through to a more in depth look at this complex topic.

Problems often observed with reading instruction are children simply reading aloud  (no instruction) and being interrupted and corrected too quickly with teachers asking low level questions. There is no good evidence to support either as effective. Pearson (2014) talks about overusing and misusing oral reading and asking low-level questions. Our Australian Curriculum demands high level reading skills, particularly in the primary years.

This  learning experience has a focus on deeply understanding the reading process and Australian Curriculum outcomes in order to examine current practice and reading materials in use. In addition, the need for brief but rich literate conversations will be explored. Participants will be guided to:

  • Understand the development of comprehension strategies
  • Explore practical ways to teach the strategies
  • Discover how to motivate students to use the strategies
  • Develop their own skills  to prepare and ask higher order questions designed to initiate conversation and have students respond to the text
  • Consider ways of developing student conversation skills allowing them to engage in rich discussion
  • Identify ways to assess comprehension and strategic reading.

Teachers will learn how to develop more effective readers through more effectively utilising the structures of Guided Reading, Reciprocal Teaching, Shared Reading, Modeled Reading and Literature Circles which may be already in place in their classrooms.

A range of strategies are involved in reading for meaning. These are easily identified and named but if taught in isolation (as often promoted in various programs) the strategies  alone will not develop a reader’s skills. The teaching of comprehension is often linear (one strategy at a time) or gimmicky. Neither of these approaches support students in developing reading skills that can be readily applied to reading a range of texts.

—We want your students to  be able to adapt the strategies to suit their own needs. Students must know how to use the comprehension strategies strategically when meaning breaks down. Our goal should be:

…  to develop readers who can understand and make use of what they read and who are motivated to read widely.

According to P. David Pearson (2009) we need:

• A good model
• Solid instruction
• Authenticity: experience reading real texts for real reasons
• Thoughtful assessment
• Supportive instructional environment

This session stands alone or can be presented in conjunction with Spelling in a Balanced Literacy Program and Writing in a Balanced Literacy Program. Ideally it should sit beside learning about assessment. With proper ongoing assessment the teaching of reading will continually improve as the teacher responds to assessment data and adjusts his or her teaching.

All sessions are  adapted to meet the needs in a particular school.

Too many of the reading lessons I observe focus on these trivial questions while ignoring how well kids actually understand the text they just read. Sadly, except in a few exemplary classrooms, I almost never witness true literate conversations—the kind that people outside classrooms engage in to make meaning of a text they care about, whether a newspaper article, a memo from the school superintendent, a novel, or a biblical passage.

Richard l. Allington  October 2014 | Volume 72 | Number 2
Instruction That Sticks Pages 16-21

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