What is Effective Comprehension Instruction?

It is Explicit, Intensive, persistent instruction. I do mine in small and large groups.  Small groups allow me to focus in on the specific skill the groups needs. I find this is a great easy way to differenate students because each student does not need to be in the same reading material--they are grouuped to practice the specific comprehension skill. 

To become good readers, most students require explicit, intensive, and persistent instruction. In explicit comprehension strategy instruction, the teacher chooses strategies that are closely aligned with the text students are reading. The teacher models and "thinks aloud" about what a given strategy is and why it is important, helps students learn how, when, and where to use the strategy, and gives students opportunities to apply the strategy on their own.

Modeling is followed by practice, guided by the teacher, who works with students to help them figure out how and when to use the strategy themselves. As students read, the teacher provides feedback and engages them in discussion. In subsequent lessons, the teacher asks students to apply the strategy on their own to other texts.

Students are encouraged to plan before reading so that reading has a clear goal or purpose, to continually monitor their understanding during reading, and to apply repair strategies when breakdowns in understanding occur. To improve self-monitoring, the teacher may model for students how to do one or all of the following:

·         think about what they already know before they start reading and during reading;
·         be aware of whether they understand what they are reading;
·         employ strategies to identify difficult words, concepts, and ideas;
·         ask themselves: "Does this make sense?"; and
·         be aware of how a particular text is organized.

One of the most important features of explicit instruction is the teacher's gradual release to students of responsibility for strategy use, with the goal that students apply strategies independently. However, teachers do not ask students to work on their own until the students have demonstrated that they understand a strategy and how and when to use it.

The Primary Comprehension Toolkit from Heinemann (grade K-2) allows me to teach specific comprehension skills in a sequence that makes sense to the reader.  The student does the work--I have to listen to how they are applying the strategies to text.

My students LOVE expository text (non-fiction). Most of the reading students do throughout their schooling — indeed, throughout their lives — will involve expository text. Without an understanding of the organization of such text, students often have difficulty understanding what they read. Unlike a narrative, an expository text has no familiar story line to guide students' reading. To read expository texts successfully, students must learn that authors may use a variety of structures to organize their ideas, including cause-and-effect or compare and contrast relationships, time-and-order sequences, and problem-solution patterns. Indeed, students need to know that authors may use some or all of these structures in any given chapter or section of a text.

They need to learn that expository text can differ from narrative text in the way it is presented on a page. For example, expository text may be organized by means of text headings and subheadings, and may contain extensive graphics, such as tables, charts, diagrams, and illustrations. Instructional practices that facilitate students' understanding of expository text include helping them learn how to:

·         chunk information in a text by grouping related ideas and concepts;
·         summarize important information in a text by grouping related ideas and concepts;
·         integrate information in a text with existing knowledge;
·         apply information in a text to real-world situations;
·         interpret and construct graphics such as charts, tables, and figures;
·         synthesize information from different texts; and
·         develop presentations about the text

We have been working monitoring comprehension and knowing when you have fallin' off the road. When reading this lesson in the Primary Comprehension Toolkit, I was thinking no big deal, they've got it. Well for students how have never been asked to really think about what they are reading this was a huge shock. I found that sentence stems and tons modeling and shared reading was needed to move them on. 

and this one show two examples of the sentence stems.


My hope in using the Primary Comprehension Toolkit is to have student's think more critically about what they have read to in turn create new works that show how they created meaning strategically in reading and writing. This set of strategies being tied to their Personalized Learning Plans. I hoping to see great products but I'll have to wait until next week to see what students do.





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Classroom Accommodations Ideas

For me-its that time of year again where I have to get ready for the DREADED state testing. Ugg! I'm a big fan of easy--that's the way I roll when it come to classroom accommodations.  Here are some ideas to help my classroom teacher friends.

If the student has difficulty learning by listening, then try…

Before the lesson:

  • Pre-teach difficult vocabulary and concepts
  • State the objective, providing a reason for listening
  • Teach the mental activities involved in listening — mental note-taking, questioning, reviewing
  • Provide study guides/worksheets
  • Provide script of film
  • Provide lecture outlines

During the lesson:

  • Provide visuals via the board or overhead
  • Use flash cards
  • Have the student close his eyes and try to visualize the information
  • Have the student take notes and use colored markers to highlight
  • Teach the use of acronyms to help visualize lists (Roy G. Biv for the colors of the spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)
  • Give explanations in small, distinct steps
  • Provide written as well as oral directions
  • Have the student repeat directions
  • When giving directions to the class, leave a pause between each step so student can carry out the process in his mind
  • Shorten the listening time required
  • Provide written and manipulative tasks
  • Be concise with verbal information: "Jane, please sit." instead of "Jane, would you please sit down in your chair."
  • If the student has difficulty expressing himself verbally, then try…

To accept an alternate form of information sharing, such as the following:

  • Written report
  • Artistic creation
  • Exhibit or showcase
  • Chart, graph, or table
  • Photo essay
  • Map
  • Review of films
  • Charade or pantomime
  • Demonstration
  • Taped report
  • Ask questions requiring short answers
  • Provide a prompt, such as beginning the sentence for the student or giving a picture cue
  • Give the rules for class discussion (e.g., hand raising)
  • Give points for oral contributions and preparing the student individually
  • Teach the student to ask questions in class
  • Specifically teach body and language expression
  • Wait for students to respond — don't call on the first student to raise his hand
  • First ask questions at the information level — giving facts and asking for facts back; then have the student break in gradually by speaking in smaller groups and then in larger groups
If the student has difficulty reading written material, then try…

  • Find a text written at lower level
  • Provide highlighted material
  • Rewrite the student's text
  • Tape the student's text
  • Allow a peer or parent to read text aloud to student
  • Shorten the amount of required reading
  • Look for same content in another medium (movie, filmstrip, tape)
  • Provide alternative methods for student to contribute to the group, such as role playing or dramatizing (oral reading should be optional)
  • Allow extra time for reading
  • Omit or shortening the reading required
  • Substitute one-page summaries or study guides which identify key ideas and terms as the reading assignment
  • Motivate the student, interesting him
  • Provide questions before student reads a selection (include page and paragraph numbers)
  • Put the main ideas of the text on index cards which can easily be organized in a file box and divided by chapters; pre-teaching vocabulary
  • Type material for easier reading
  • Use larger type
  • Be more concrete-using pictures and manipulatives
  • Reduce the amount of new ideas
  • Provide experience before and after reading as a frame of reference for new concepts
  • State the objective and relating it to previous experiences
  • Help the student visualize what is read

If the student has difficulty writing legibly, then try…

  • Use a format requiring little writing
  • Multiple-choice
  • Programmed material
  • True/false
  • Matching
  • Use manipulatives such as letters from a Scrabble™ game or writing letters on small ceramic tiles
  • Reduce or omit assignments requiring copying
  • Encourage shared note-taking
  • Allow the use of a tape recorder, a typewriter, or a computer
  • Teach writing directly
  • Trace letters or writing in clay
  • Verbalize strokes on tape recorder
  • Use a marker to space between words
  • Tape the alphabet to student's desk
  • Provide a wallet-size alphabet card
  • Provide courses in graph analysis or calligraphy as a motivator
  • Use graph paper to help space letters and numbers in math
  • Use manuscript or lined ditto paper as a motivation technique (brainstorm the advantages of legibility with the class)

If the student has difficulty expressing himself in writing, then try…

Accepting alternate forms of reports:

  • Oral reports
  • Tape-recorded report
  • Tape of an interview
  • Collage, cartoon, or other art
  • Maps
  • Diorama, 3-D materials, showcase exhibits
  • Photographic essay
  • Panel discussion
  • Mock debate
  • Review of films and presentation of an appropriate one to the class
  • Have the student dictate work to someone else (an older student, aide, or friend) and then copy it himself
  • Allow more time
  • Shorten the written assignment (preparing an outline or summary)
  • Provide a sample of what the finished paper should look like to help him organize the parts of the assignment
  • Provide practice using:
  • Story starters
  • Open-ended stories
  • Oral responses (try some oral spelling tests)


If the student has difficulty spelling, then try…

  • Dictate the work and then asking the student to repeat it (saying it in sequence may eliminate errors of omitted syllables)
  • Avoid traditional spelling lists (determine lists from social needs and school area needs)
  • Use mnemonic devices ("A is the first capital letter," "The capitol building has a dome")
  • Teach short, easy words in context:
  • On and on
  • Right on!
  • On account of
  • Have students make flashcards and highlight the difficult spots on the word
  • Give a recognition level spelling test (asking the student to circle correct word from three or four choices)
  • Teach words by spelling patterns (teach "cake," "bake," "take," etc. in one lesson)
  • Use the Language Master for drill
  • Avoid penalizing for spelling errors
  • Hang words from the ceiling during study time or posting them on the board or wall as constant visual cues
  • Provide a tactile/kinesthetic aid for spelling (sandpaper letters to trace or a box filled with salt or cereal to write in)
This is just the tip of the iceberg of ideas to use in the classroom. What are your favorites?

About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I'm Ms. Whiteley. I teach in the beautiful Mile High state--Colorado. This is my 13th year teaching in an rural K-6 Elementary school as a Exceptional Needs Teachers. As Exceptional Needs National Board Certified Teacher, I believe that ALL students can learn and be successful. When I'm not in school, I love to take my two Italian Greyhounds hiking 14ers and reaching for the stars. Thanks for Hopping By.
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