Previously we have discussed the steps to beginning to read and factors that lead to better readers. However in many cases I will hear parents or teachers complain that the child reads but does not know or cannot answer questions about what has been read.
Understanding the text that was read is reading comprehension. Many feel that reading comprehension is something that must come natural to a child. However reading comprehension can also be taught and strengthened through instruction.
Research has indentified six areas that can help improve reading comprehension.
Monitoring comprehension: In this area students learn to monitor their own reading comprehension. Students should be aware of the things that they do and do not understand about text that was read. They should be able to recall and discuss the things that they do understand and they should be able to question the things that they do not understand. These readers will think about what they have read and check for understanding after they read. Many readers do this when they are reading for a purpose such as to study for a test.
Organizers: Many teachers will instruct students on how to use graphic organizers relating to what they read. These organizers may be outlines, maps, webs, charts, graphs, or other pictorial devices. Graphic organizers help readers in several ways. They help readers with the text structure, focus attention to the reading, give the reader a purpose, encourage readers to be active in the reading, and give a visual representation of a summary of the reading.
Questioning: The most well known, all time favorite type of reading comprehension instruction is questioning the students about what was read. When the teacher questions the student about the text it requires the student to think about what was read. The student takes on an active role in the reading. The student is also required to monitor and check his or her own reading comprehension.