Facilitating Children Comprehension

Chapter 8

What is Comprehension?

Comprehension is a creative, multifaceted process in which children engage with and think about the text. The comprehension process begins as children activate their background knowledge, and it develops as they read or listen to a book read aloud and then respond to it.

Reader and Text Factors

Children actively engage with the text as they read or listen to it read aloud. For example, they do the following:

* Activate background knowledge

*Examine the text to uncover its organization

*Make predictions

*Connect to their own experiences

*Create mental images

*Monitor their understanding

*Solve problems that interfere with comprehension

Text Complexity

A number of factors affect text complexity, which the Common Core State Standards group into these three components:

Qualitative Dimensions: Teachers make informed judgments about a book's grade appropriateness by examining its layout, text structure, language features, purpose and meaning, and the demands places on reader's background knowledge. These dimensions are difficult to evaluate because they can't easily be quantified

Quantitative Measures: Teachers use readability formulas or other scores to determine a book's grade appropriateness by calculating word length, word frequency, word difficulty, sentence length, text length, ad other quantitative features. They often rely on computer software to determine reading levels, such as Lexile scores.

Reader and Task Considerations: Teachers reflect on how they expect children to interact with the book, and on children's literary knowledge and strategy use as well as their motivation and interests. With instructions, children grow in their understanding of how to read complex texts, and they learn to think about ideas.

Prerequisites for Comprehension

1. Background Knowledge

2. Vocabulary

3. Fluency

Comprehension Strategies

Comprehension strategies are thoughtful behaviors that readers use to facilitate their understanding. Some strategies are cognitive- they involve thinking, or cognition; others are metacognitive- they require reflection.

Children learn to apply these cognitive and metacognitive strategies to ensure that they comprehend what they're reading:

*Activating background knowledge * Predicting * Connecting * Questioning

*Determining importance * Repairing * Drawing inferences * Setting a Purpose

* Evaluating * Summarizing * Monitoring * Visualizing


Readers make three types of connections between a text and their background knowledge: text-to-self, text-to-world, and text-to-text connections.

Text-to-Self Connections- Children link the ideas they're reading about to experiences in their own lives; these are personal connections.

Text-to-World Connections- Children move beyond personal experiences to relate what they're reading to their "world" knowledge, learned both in and out of school.

Text-to-Text Connections- Children link the text to another book they've read or to a familiar film, video, or television program.

Online Comprehension Strategies

Activating Background Knowledge- Readers need to know about websites and how to navigate search engines to locate useful ones

Predicting- Children Predict which links will be useful; otherwise, they get distracted or waste time finding their way back rom unproductive links.

Evaluating- Children determine the accuracy, objectivity, relevance, and quality of information at websites, because some information may be erroneous or biased.

Monitoring- Children monitor their navigational choices and decide whether the links they've reached are useful.

Repairing- Children use the repairing strategies to correct poor navigational choices.

Developing Comprehension Through Reading

*Independent Reading * Interactive Read-Alouds * Shared Reading