Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Reading for Meaning: A Research Based Approach

Word confusion...it's funny in this comic but the truth is it really can impact a reader's ability to
comprehend. Strong readers are flexible thinkers.  They are more tuned in to ambiguous language and are better able to handle multiple meaning words. They monitor their understanding and attend to reading words and processing meaning simultaneously.
There are many third graders who seem like they are strong readers. They can call the words but can't can't tell you what they have read.
I must admit Jill and I are feeling dazed and confused ourselves as we work through the research that is out there connected to the topic of reading comprehension. 
 However, we recently came across an article that caught and kept our attention.  It was entitled: Instruction of Metacognition Strategies Enhances Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary Development of Third Grade Students by Regina Boulware-Gooden, Suzanne Carreker, Ann Thornhill and R. Joshi.
This article reports on a study that provides further evidence to support metacognitive instruction. Students in the intervention group improved significantly over the comparison group in vocabulary and reading comprehension. This report shows the intervention group with a 40% difference in gains in vocabulary between the two groups and a 20% gain in comprehension in just a 5 week period. The basis of this five-week study was a report put out by the National Reading Panel that concluded that there are eight effective strategies to teach reading comprehension and that a multi-strategy approach is most effective.  
So what did the instruction in the intervention and comparison school look like and sound like?
The students in both schools received 30 minutes of reading comprehension a day for the 25 days using the same reading passages and vocabulary words.  Key differences were made in lesson delivery in regards to vocabulary and comprehension monitoring.  Summarizing using a graphic organizer to document main idea and details first was key. 
The intervention school students incorporated more metacognitive strategies during and after their reading.  Introductory activities like "the reading hook" and questioning helped students engage.

Students were encouraged to think out loud while they read, softly saying, "Yes, when their prereading thinking was correct, oops, when they had to correct their prereading thinking, or aha, when they learned something new through their reading process.  I'm having my students also use small post its to tag these while they read. 
The writing of the summary paragraph was another important metacognitive strategy in this instructional plan. 
A group of third grade teachers from various schools in my area will be running this lesson plan using the 5 components documented in the research report.  I will be back to report on our results!
Let me know if you want to give it a try with your students!
Email me @youngdor8@gmail.com