‘The ultimate goal of reading is comprehension’
Comprehension is introduced from Nursery and Reception through our 4-strategies and 6-steps reading pedagogy, based on Reciprocal Reading, to enable ‘Reading to Learn’. As children become more fluent and automatic readers, the amount of time and focus on understanding increases.
Triggering Prior Knowledge
This prepares the reader for engaging with a text by:
- Summarising prior learning/concepts.
- Foregrounding new texts with an understanding of concepts or facts that will aid understanding of the reading to come.
Enabling the reader to anticipate what will come next in the text, based on:
- Prior knowledge
- Structure of the text
- Content of the text
- What has been read previously
Children read independently at their own pace, either:
- Silently or to themselves
- Teachers can hear an individual read-aloud
- Reading can be done as a whole class
Clarifying enables the learner to deal with difficulties of:
- Unfamiliar vocabulary – words/phrases
- New or challenging concepts
- Where meaning is lost
The best clarification comes from the children – some words seem obvious to teachers but that is irrelevant for a child to whom it is not obvious.
To establish meaning, we may re-read a sentence or passage now that the children understand the language.
Children are encouraged to be active in the reading process by asking questions about the concepts and themes that they are intrigued or confused by.
- Teachers (and increasingly, the children themselves) ask questions about the text that they have just read.
- The teacher should invite different ideas and suggestions to questions.
Comprehension of the text can be assessed through the questioning stage
The summary identifies the main or most important point in the section that has been read:
- It gives an indication of the reader’s understanding.
- Encourages the reader to sift main ideas in own words.
- Sets up prediction for the next section where they will return to predicting.
Phonics is the primary strategy for word reading. Other strategies are also taught to all children to build fluency (and as 15% of English words are not phonically decodable) – this also gives an alternative to phonics for those children who do not learn to read in this way.
Examples of strategies:
Sight word flashcards
Skip and return
If I know . . . sent, then I know . . . bent, went, tent, spent, scent
Use your root words
Words inside words
Vowel sound switch (from long to short ‘a’ sound)
Syllables contain only one vowel sound
Vowel teams stay together
R-controlled vowels stay together (ar, er, ir, or, ur)
Divide after a prefix rewind
Divide between two middle consonants pumpkin
Divide before consonant –le rumble
Divide after the consonant when the nearby vowel is short planet
Divide before a suffix teacher
Divide between double consonants furry
Divide after a long vowel sound acorn pilot
Divide between two compound words sunshine
Fluent and accurate word reading (at letter, word, sentence and text level) reduced the cognitive load for children so they can focus on comprehending meaning. Fluency and accuracy are built through:
Appropriately pitched text difficulty
Hearing correct models
Re-reading (after guidance and feedback)
Echo reading – adult models reading a word or sentence, child repeats
Pre-teaching – work out difficult words before reading (speed words)
Precision response – missing pronouns, prefixes, suffixes, what/that