Enhancing Reading Comprehension within Core Instruction
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Designing learning environments that support self-regulation in learning activity is critical within RTI, especially for children who experience difficulty learning in school. Join Annemarie Palincsar, Ph.D., Jean and Charles Walgreen professor of reading and literacy at the University of Michigan, during our next RTI Talk as she answers your questions about how children who struggle with academic learning can be supported to be successful in the context of ambitious science instruction.
Dr. Palincsar will provide information from case studies of students in upper elementary classrooms, describing how general educators adapted the instruction and the instructional context to support these students. She will also describe how guided inquiry science experiences can provide an important opportunity to use reading, writing, and oral language.
Read more about Annemarie Palincsar, Ph.D.
If the text is almost within the grasp of the students, the teacher can support students by "pre-teaching" with the text; for example, having the students preview the topics as they skim the chapter headings, referring the students to the illustrations and other graphics that may be useful, anticipating the vocabulary demands of the text and familiarizing the students with vocabulary they will encounter (this is especially important for students who are learning English as a second language). Another - more promising - alternative is to gather a literacy library in which the same topic is covered in an array of texts that are written at different levels.
For example, to help with print demands,teachers posted terms that students would find helpful; they used sentence starters to help students prepare written responses; they permitted students to dictate their answers to a writing buddy. To assist with group work, they modeled how to work effectively together; they assigned students to groups to maximize the contributions students could make (e.g., distributing strong readers across groups, distributing strong writers across groups, distributing students who are good at getting work done); they also monitored small group work to be sure that all students were particiapting well. To help with conceptual demands, they spent time conferring with individual students about their understanding of the ideas.
So, as educators, we need to bring adjustments to both aspects of our instruction. We can reduce the level of challenge, and we can also increase the amount of, or nature of the support we are providing. It is also useful to remember that even students who have a long history of academic challenge can catch fire when they are provided the opportunity to learn about content that is of interest to them.
We do this by relying more on the content of the text; making and testing inferences about the ideas in the text; and thinking about related knowledge that will be useful to our understanding. Talking with children about the ideas in texts can be very helpful to getting a window into their thinking and giving them a window into comprehension.For example, even when students are reading about a topic for which they may have little background knowledge specific to that topic, they may well have knowledge that is relevant to the topic, so activating what knowledge students might have can be very useful. By eliciting what students know - or think they know - the teacher can also be listening for naive conceptions that students are bringing to the reading; with this information in hand, the teacher has a better idea of what students are likely to find challenging in the text, and can support students with those ideas in the text.
Special educators have typically been prepared to think about the processes students engage in while learning; they can be helpful in teaching students to be more self-regulating in their reading of text. That is, they can teach students how to monitor their reading to be sure they are understanding. Special educators can also teach students "fix-up" strategies that they can use to restore comprehension, when they are not understanding. Finally, paraprofessionals and lay-people (like volunteers) can be very helpful supporting reading comprehension activities.
That concludes our RTI Talk for today. Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful questions and thanks to our expert, Dr. Annemarie Palincsar, for her time today.
Related Reading from RTINetwork.org:
Classroom Reading Instruction That Supports Struggling Readers
by Carolyn A. Denton, Ph.D.
Classroom Reading Instruction That Supports Struggling Readers: Key Components for Effective Teaching by Carolyn A. Denton, Ph.D.
Deshler, D., Palincsar, A. S., Biancarosa, G., & Naire, M. (2007). Informed choices for struggling adolescent readers: A research based guide to principles and practices. Newark, Delaware: International Reading Association.
Hapgood, S., Magnusson, S. J., & Palincsar, A. S. (2004). Teacher, text, and experience mediating children's learning of scientific inquiry. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13 (4), 455-506.
Hapgood, S. & Palincsar, A. S. (2006). Where literacy and science intersect. Educational Leadership, 64 (4), 56-61.
Palincsar, A. S., Magnusson, S. J., Collins, K. M., & Cutter, J. (2001). Promoting deep understanding of science in students with disabilities in inclusion classrooms. Learning Disabilities Quarterly, 24 (1), 15-32.
Palincsar, A. S., Spiro, R..J., Kucan, L., Magnusson, S. J., Collins, B., Hapgood, S., Ramchandran, A., and DeFrance, N. (2007). Research to practice: Designing hypermedia environment to support elementary teachers’ learning of robust comprehension instruction. In D. Mcnamara (Ed.). Reading Comprehension Strategies Handbook. Taylor Francis.