Helping Young Children Improve Comprehension of Information Texts

This semester in READ 6310 students were asked to contribute a post to our blog.

By Ashely M. Clark

As children go from lower elementary grades to upper elementary grades, reading and text changes dramatically. In my opinion, the transition from second grade to third grade is a drastic change for many children and their parents. Children are no longer learning to read but are now reading to learn. As a third grade teacher, I have had many experiences where students feel overwhelmed and parents are wonder what happened to their child’s reading ability from second to third grade; where they were having success in reading and now see a decline.

 In this situation, what is necessary to understand is that, at this grade level, students reading tasks change. Students are assigned tasks in which they have to analyze information, whereas in most cases students do not have the prior knowledge to make connections to text, they do not have the reading ability to decode the vocabulary or they do not how to comprehend the terminology.

 Informational texts carry real information and most often have a structure different from that of a narrative. Timelines, graphs, directions can be key features in informational text. Within both genres of literature, students use skills such as sequence, listing, compare and contrast or cause and effect. Although readers at this grade level have had experience with these skills, they have difficulty relating these skills to informational text.

 In order to build comprehension of informational texts there are simple strategies that can be used with children to aid in their understanding and reading ability. Three strategies that can be utilized are the KWL Chart, Modeled Think-Aloud and Think-Pair-Share.

KWL

 KWL-graphic-organizer

 

K-What I Think I Know

W- What I Know

L-What I Want To Learn

 

 

 

 

Within a KWL Chart, students are listing from general details to specific details. Students can write individually, in pairs or a group. K (What I think I know) is a pre-reading strategy to get the students thinking about their literature.  W (What I think I know) is important because students can relate their prior knowledge to their reading. This can be done at a specific section of the text that introduces new information. Have students stop and write their reactions and talk about it. L (What I want to learn) is done at the end of reading. Students analyze their new knowledge of the subject matter and wonder about other related topics of interest they would like to explore. 

 Think Aloud

MH900445118My personal favorite! I have seen this work wonders for my students and it is very easy to do. This is a great strategy to share with parents as well. The Think Aloud strategy is a modeled strategy of how a skilled reader makes sense of a text. While reading expository texts create intentional stops at certain points to summarize text, paraphrase, predict, question, and relate prior knowledge to the text ALOUD. Let the students hear how a reader thinks, speaks and relates. As the teacher models thinking aloud while reading, children will begin to as well.

 

 

 

Think-Pair-Share

MH900433934Think-Pair-Share is a reading strategy that can be used sporadically when reading. When reading informational texts, create intentional stops throughout the text and incorporate this strategy by asking a question. Have students think to themselves about the question, pair up with a classmate, and share their ideas. With this strategy students can gain better comprehension of the text and learn new insights about the text. 

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