Comprehension (Focused teaching 5-8)

Reading comprehension is influenced by what a reader knows about a text and the reading strategies they apply to build on this knowledge.

These focused teaching strategies can be used to support a student’s development within this area of knowledge. The strategies are presented in a developmental sequence to systematically teach aspects of comprehension.

The text used to model this teaching and learning sequence is The Best Pizza in the World by Jenny Feely, published by Horwitz Martin Education of Australia.

These focused teaching strategies can be applied to other picture story texts at the student’s independent reading level. This allows the focus of the teaching to be on the student’s comprehension of the text rather than their word reading skills.

Deciding the likely topic of a text

This sequence of activities assists students to decide the likely topic of a text. The activities are presented in the following developmental order:

Forming an initial impression of the text

This activity can be repeated to allow students to practise forming an initial impression of the text.

Instructions

  1. Before the student reads the text, ask them to discuss what they see on the front cover. The student may respond by saying:
    • A boy and his mum are eating pizza.
    • The boy likes the pizza.
    • A boy and his mum are sitting at a table.
  2. Ask questions to direct the student’s attention to particular features of the picture. For example:
    • Do you think the boy likes eating pizza?
    • What do you think is on the pizza?
    • How much of the pizza have they eaten so far?
  3. Ask the student what they think the text will be about.

If the student provides a limited response

  • Point to relevant parts of the picture and ask the student questions such as: What do you call this? (A piece of pizza). Who do you think this is? (The boy’s mum).
  • Provide additional support by asking questions that include the correct response. For example, point to the picture of the pizza and say to the student: Is this a pizza or is it a biscuit?

Predicting plausible ideas and events in the text

This activity can be repeated to allow students to practise predicting plausible ideas and events in the text.

Instructions

  1. Model to the student the process of predicting ideas and events in the text by looking at the front cover.
  2. Ask the student to discuss what they see on the front cover and predict the ideas and events in the text.
  3. Record the student’s predictions so that they can be referred to during and after reading the text.

If the student has a limited response

Ask the student focused questions to help them predict the ideas and events in the text.

Reading and comprehending sentences

This sequence of activities assists students to read and comprehend sentences. The activities are presented in the following developmental order:

Visualising sentences

This activity can be repeated to allow students to practise visualising sentences.

Instructions

  1. Model the process of visualising a sentence to the student by reading a sentence from the text, visualising it and describing the image to the student.
  2. Read a different sentence from the text to the student. Ask the student to visualise the sentence and describe their image.

If the student has a limited response

Ask the student questions to help them visualise a sentence from the text and describe the image in their mind. For example:

  • What is the boy doing?
  • What is the colour of the boy’s jumper?
  • Where is the boy?

Paraphrasing sentences

This activity can be repeated to allow students to practise paraphrasing sentences.

Instructions

  1. Model the process of paraphrasing a sentence to the student. Read a sentence from the text and say it again in your own words by restating it in a different way.
  2. Read a different sentence from the text to the student. Ask the student to say the sentence again in their own words, changing as many words as they can while keeping the same meaning.

If the student provides a limited response

Identify key words in a sentence from the text and discuss synonyms for these words. Ask the student to use these synonyms to paraphrase a sentence in their own words.

Working out meanings of unfamiliar words in the text

Comprehending vocabulary in the text

This activity can be repeated to allow students to practise comprehending vocabulary in the text.

Instructions

  1. Ask the student to locate an unfamiliar word in the text.
  2. Read the sentence containing the unfamiliar word to the student. Ask the student what they think the word might mean in the context of the sentence.
  3. Repeat this process for other unfamiliar words in the text.
  4. Write the unfamiliar words on flashcards. Describe the meaning of one of the words to the student and ask them to select the flashcard with the corresponding meaning.
  5. Ask the student to locate the unfamiliar word in the text and read the sentence containing the word.
  6. Ask the student to paraphrase the sentence.

If the student provides a limited response

Ask the student to locate an unfamiliar word in the text. Explain to the student the meaning of the word within the context of the sentence and discuss synonyms for the word. Read the word again in the context of the sentence and ask the student to paraphrase the sentence.

Working out the meaning of the text by inferring, questioning and summarising

Responding to questions about the text

This activity can be repeated to allow students to practise responding to questions about the text.

Instructions

Ask focused questions to elicit a response from the student. For example, tell the student that you are going to talk about what they already know about the boy. Ask the student focused questions such as:

  • What is the boy’s name?
  • Where is the boy?
  • Who is the boy with?
  • What are they doing?
  • Why are they doing it?

If the student provides a limited response

Ask focused questions to elicit a response from the student. For example, tell the student that you are going to talk about what they already know about the boy. Ask the student focused questions such as:

  • What is the boy’s name?
  • Where is the boy?
  • Who is the boy with?
  • What are they doing?
  • Why are they doing it?

Linking meaning across sentences

Grouping key words and phrases to create summaries

This activity can be repeated to allow students to practice linking meaning across sentences.

Instructions

  1. Ask the student to identify and record key words and phrases from the text.
  2. Record the key words and phrases on flashcards.
  3. Ask the student to group the words and phrases to present a summary of what they have read in the text so far.
  4. Using the flashcards as a prompt, ask the student to summarise what they have read.

If the student provides a limited response

Using flashcards, model to the student how to group the words and phrases and summarise what has been read in the text so far. Ask the student to use the flashcards to repeat this process.

SEN Teacher – Resource ID QZCP8K
SEN Teacher is available through FUSE and includes a range of teacher resources that can be selected and adapted including templates for creating flashcards and word building activities.

 

Reviewing, consolidating and responding to the text

This sequence of activities assists students to review, consolidate and respond to the text. The activities are presented in the following developmental order:

Reviewing and consolidating the text

This activity can be repeated to allow students to practise reviewing and consolidating the text.

Instructions

  1. Ask the student to describe what the text was about in their own words.
  2. Ask the student to identify questions they can now answer about the text.

If the student provides a limited response

Select appropriate pictures that show the main events in the text and ask the student to describe what each picture is about in their own words. Transcribe the student’s responses and ask them to read back their description of each picture. Using their responses as a reference, ask the student to tell you what happened at the beginning of the story, during the story and how the story ended.

Responding to the text

This activity can be repeated to allow students to practise responding to the text.

Instructions

Ask the student to discuss their emotional response to the story. Say to the student:

  • What did you like about the story?
  • How did you feel when…?
  • What made you feel that way?

If the student provides a limited response

Ask the student to select a picture or part of the story that they enjoyed. Ask them to tell you what they liked about that part of the story and why.