Comprehension Instruction

Comprehension Instruction

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In classrooms around the Untied States students have a difficult time understanding the written material within a textbook, but comprehension instruction is a way to help both students and teachers with this problem. Learning and understanding from textbooks are part of every subject area and this type of instruction can be used in all areas. The problem is it does not occur enough in classrooms because teachers have little knowledge on how to incorporate comprehension instruction strategies into teaching due to not having the correct or any information on this type of instruction.

Author Paul Neufeld on the article Comprehension Instruction In Content Area Classes wants teachers to fully understand and how to use comprehension instruction. He describes comprehending a text is always different due to factors such as diverse backgrounds, which can cause a student to view the material in a different way. However he understands that for the comprehension process to work to its full potential the student must be engaged with ideas stemming from what was read in the text. His conflicting downside to this is that he also knows that if a student is weak in understanding words and how to pronounce them can hinder the process of comprehension instruction. If the student has a high word processing level the easier the understanding of the text comes to be. The author notes that expert comprehension readers are “self- regulated” which can benefit other students from them maybe not at that particular time but can be remembered and used in the future. For a teacher to understand how to do this he chose the best comprehension strategies he felt to be most effective. He brakes down his strategies by telling the most important one then breaking it down into small sections allowing the reader to fully understand and absorb the information in small sections making it easier to remember. He puts these sections of strategies to be used before reading. Following after in the article are comprehension strategies for during and after reading, to improve the knowledge of the text even more. Putting this aside he understand that readers who are not on an expert level or even mediocre have trouble organizing what they have already read and that were comprehension instruction comes in to help. In his last few pages pages of the article he describes how teachers can use comprehension instruction effectively in his two phases with steps to follow.

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He concludes that comprehension of texts is vital to a students education, but it is not enforced enough in the classrooms, so from he’s article he hopes teachers have learned from it and can integrate comprehension instruction into their classrooms.

The following paragraphs are a compare and contrast of Paul Neufelds strategies on comprehension instruction to a textbook titled Content Area Reading by Richard T. Vacca , Jo Anne L. Vacca and Maryann Mroy under the Chapter seven titled “ Guiding Reading Comprehension.” The main strategies from the article he found most important is Question asking and answering. The text refers to it as Question-Answer relationship. Question asking and answering meaning in the article is “ the process of asking and then answering question of oneself and the text that brings the other strategies to life” (Neufeld, 2005, p. 304). In the text book the description of QRA’s is very clear in its meaning, “ QRA’s make explicit to student the relationships that exist among the type of question asked , the text and the readers prior knowledge” (Richard T. Vacca, 2011, p. 200). This goes against what I was reading, that textbooks are not efficient enough to be used as a learning tool in this case its better then the article. However when both article and text explain steps on how to successfully integrate Question to answer relationship the article was more helpful. The article brakes it down into four sections. The fist section beings with “Clarifying a purpose for reading” (Neufeld, 2005, p. 304), having the teacher introduce the strategies doing so while speaking so students can be clear about what their going to be taught. The text explains it as “ Introduce the concepts of QAR’s” (Richard T. Vacca, 2011, p. 200) , telling the teacher to introduce with a chart which can be more confusing then just explaining it before beginning . The contrast is that the article gives question you should as the student. The last three steps for the strategy included “ Overviewing the text” , “ Activating prior knowledge relevant to the text”, and “Making predictions about the text” (Neufeld, 2005, p. 304). All these sections are very detailed and start with having the student do a survey of the text then bring what knowledge they already and finally allowing them to make the own assumptions about what they expect the text to initial. Unlike the article the text second through fourth steps are telling the teachers to take several passage for the student to read then practice with those particular passage only to review on the third day briefly. These steps seemed repetitive, not informative enough and a lazy way to integrate question- answer relationships. The article steps were more useful, clear and organized and fall under his “ Getting –ready-to-read strategies” (Neufeld, 2005, p. 304). The next section of the article was broken into what he called “ During-and after- reading strategies” (Neufeld, 2005, p. 305), which compared very well to the information given in the text. He placed the three comprehension strategies under “ Creating summaries (oral, written, visual)” (Neufeld, 2005, p. 305). Explaining them to be used as what the students already know and how to organize that information with new information being taught. His oral summaries strategy compares with “The KWL Strategy” (Richard T. Vacca, 2011, p. 206) in the textook, by having the same method of knowing what the student knows, what the student has already learned and wants to learn. In this case however the textbook is a greater tool to learn how to fully adapt this method due to its ready made example chart. It explains in detail how to complete each section of the chart titled Figure 7:3 (Richard T. Vacca, 2011, p. 207) with the sections ready to be filled in. It even has the answers filled in on the following chart Fiqure7.4 (Richard T. Vacca, 2011, p. 210) using an example from a history class so they make sure the teacher fully grasp the technique. The next was visual summaries which compared greatly to the text section “Discussion web’s” (Richard T. Vacca, 2011, p. 211). Both article and text were very clear in their descriptions and gave full examples of visual graphs and step by step instruction on how to being the graphs and carry them through. The only contrast is the text gives different kinds of ways to use the discussion webs. For example the webs in the text fiqure 7.8 and 7.9 (Richard T. Vacca, 2011, p. 215) show how to solve a math problem or a question using the web instead of it become an organized study guide like shown in the article titled Table 3 (Neufeld, 2005, p. 306) just gave setup and organization information . Unlike the text the article did provide a table of vocabulary words titled Table 4 (Neufeld, 2005, p. 307) to be used when applying text structure to this strategy. The last strategy of the article was written summaries, this strategy was not helpful. It was just away to cut down material in a summary. I felt it could fall back under the KWL strategy and even the Discussion Web. The information is already being separated with the KWL strategy and the Discussion Webs because these methods already setup the information in a organized manner which can be used to create a summary. The final section of the article was most helpful in understanding how to fully apply these strategies into the classroom. He categories them into two phases. “Phase 1: Explicit Instruction of individual strategies” (Neufeld, 2005, p. 308). Under this phase the first step is “Introduction and justification” (Neufeld, 2005, pp. 308-309). Here teachers explain the strategy and why it is important to know how to use comprehension instruction. Next step is “Modeling” (Neufeld, 2005, p. 309) this is were the teacher explains while demonstrating the task. Third step is “Guided practice” (Neufeld, 2005, p. 309), allowing both teacher and student to practice the strategy in the classroom were the teacher is able to provide feedback. And the last step for phase one is “Independent practices” (Neufeld, 2005, p. 309), were students try the strategy on their own assigned by the teacher but the assignment should be turned in back to the teacher so feedback can still be given which is vital. “Phase two: Teaching for self-regulated strategy use” (Neufeld, 2005, pp. 309-310). This explained what the teacher should get out of using comprehension instruction to its full capability and if done correctly it can make instruction easier for both teacher and student. As for the textbook this section falls under “Three-Level comprehension Guides” (Richard T. Vacca, 2011, p. 227). Compared to the article this was worded confusingly. It told the reader in phase one to complete that then got to phase two. Then phase two tells you to go back to phase one and so on. Wording the phases this way was not helpful at all due to very slim information and brief description. Even with an example it was still not helpful ,if you could not understand the phases how can you understand what being explained in the example. In full comparison between the article and text, the article gave more detailed information from beginning to end. The author of the article even gave more helpful hints after his conclusion because he wants the reader to understand this concept. As for the text it was strong in most of its examples but very weak in how to apply comprehension instruction to the classroom. In this case the text examples could be used as a good follow up tool to what is being read in the article.

After learning about comprehension instruction I feel it can greatly benefit me in my future teaching career. For me wanting to teach the subject of history students have a very difficult time understanding history textbooks due to its brief descriptions. Most history text to me seem to be lots of historical names, events and lots of dates with not enough information. This makes it harder for students to grasp the information. The strategies from comprehension instruction that can work the best in my future classrooms since it will be in a urban school district the KWL strategy seems it can work the best for the subject of history. For example in an urban district the students come from many different cultural backgrounds and may have different information and views of certain historical events. Example, Thanksgiving which I feel the story behind worsens as you move up in your education career. Some students may already know something about thanksgiving that other students may not. Like in elementary and high school your taught that the pilgrims and Indians sat down together and had a pleasant meal but when you get to college you hear more of a cruel day then a pleasant one. With this some students may have already been told by parents , an adult figure ,other students and some might even been of Indian descent. The KWL strategy works best because it allows the teacher to know what the students already know and what they want to learn. This can help me greatly when going to discuss this particular subject so I can follow wants in the text and try to answer what other students have heard in a manner that does not offend other students and to make sure the student gets their answer. This strategy is also good when wanting to know what the students already know to better you lesson plan which in turn helps your instruction. For example knowing about WW2, all the student may know enough about Hitler were he can be briefly touched upon and not enough about D-Day. So now as a teacher I know to focus a little more time on D-Day then on Hitler. Comprehension instruction will become very useful and become a common tool used in my everyday instruction. My main goal with the use of comprehension instruction will be to better the way my future students understand the material that is being presented to them to enhance the learning experience within the classroom.


Works Cited

Neufeld, P. (2005). Comprehension instruction in content area classes. International Reading Association , 302-312.

Richard T. Vacca, J. A. (2011). Chapter 7: Guiding Reading Comprehension. In J. A. Richard T. Vacca, Content Area Reading, Literacy and Learning Across the Curriculum (pp. 195-233). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.


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