Direct instruction in literacy should not end in elementary school. Students of all ages need continual modeling and practice of reading comprehension skills. And while many elementary teachers use running records to inform instruction, at the intermediate grades, this type of assessment can be modified to meet the needs of our older readers.
At the end of the oral reading, students retell what they had just read summarizing, analyzing, and connecting to the text. This retelling is preferred over the typical question-answer assessment for older students. Retelling gives us a glimpse into the reader’s cognition and provides valuable insight as to what was grasped and what may have been lost.
During the reflection with the student following the retell, teachers can hone in on 6 areas to identify possible sources that contribute to the breakdown of comprehension.
6 Areas to Explore when Reading Comprehension Breaks Down
- Background Knowledge on the topic. Do I need more information on the topic in order to understand the text? Would rereading or talking about it help me understand new concepts presented by the author?
- Vocabulary. Were there lots of words I’ve never heard of or seen in this selection?
- Cultural Differences. Is this about a way of thinking or pattern of acting that is different from mine?
- Word-Recognition Skills. Can I figure out hard or unfamiliar words?
- Comfort with the task. Am I worried about doing well?
- Responses to environmental influences inside and outside of school. Am I confident I can be successful?
(Based on the work of Mary Shea)
When teachers and students reflect and identify areas that contribute to the breakdown of comprehension glitches can be addressed efficiently. Teachers instruction is targeted and students understanding of themselves as readers grow enhancing independence and comprehension.