Comprehension - is a process of simultaneously extracting and constructing meaning through interaction and involvement with written language. This implies three elements: 1. A text -  in any form, 2. A reader - who has variable abilities, knowledge, experiences, and 3. an activity - with an intended purpose, processes, and results of reading.

Reader variables - attention, memory, critical analytic ability, ability to make inferences, visualize, motivation, purpose, activity, self-efficacy, vocabulary, topic knowledge, linguistic and discourse knowledge, comprehension strategies.
Fluency is an antecedent to and a consequence of comprehension
Comprehension - of the text under scrutiny and comprehension in general.
Goal help students to become self-sufficient, self-regulate, active readers who have a variety of strategies to use to comprehend.

The reader
Comprehension isn’t simply derived from decoding of text.
Must construct the mental models represented in the text.
Vocabulary, linguistic structure, discourse style, interplay of reader’s knowledge


  1. Activate prior knowledge
  2. Monitor comprehension and adjust as necessary
  3. Generate questions
  4. Answer them
  5. Draw inferences between and among pieces of text, create mental images
  6. Bring knowledge to text structure to assist comprehension
  7. Both during and after reading create summaries of what they have read.

What kind of comprehension should happen at each grade level?

Before strategies such as skimming, rereading, using context, planning, paraphrasing, and summarizing plays a significant role in comprehension a certain amount of fluency must have been achieved for comprehension to occur before these strategies can be used.

Another important element is the ability for children to move from one dimensional thinking to multidimensional thinking required by comprehension strategy applications. Two variable experiments such as the teeter toter if an explanation is limited to weight as the controlling factor , then the thinking is - one dimensional. If weight and distance from the fulcrum are seen as the controlling factors, then the thinking is - two dimensional or multidimensional. Ability to consider more than one variable simultaneously is a major hurdle in comprehension.

Instruction in decoding does not naturally produce spin-off benefits in vocabulary skills and general knowledge (Morrison, Griffith, and Frazier 1996) This results call into question the assumption that a focus on decoding will lead to success in comprehension.

Comprehension acquisition begins with
Children ages 5-7  with them learning to reason with others which requires sufficient practice.
Social practice in a variety of contexts to create more transfer of procedures.
If we want children to reason their ways through texts during a time when they cannot yet read, then the social context for comprehension acquisition must be reading aloud text, an involvement in the analysis and logical reasoning through the discussions of the text for a variety of texts read aloud.

Scaffolds, Models, Direct instruction where the child is instructed in what to say tell or ask

Interactive read alouds (Blueberries for Sal similarities & differences)(Popcorn book how tell the difference between the two kinds of books) teacher initiated, student response, teacher evaluation (I-R-E)

Believe the absence of informational books in first grade is problematic for the transfer of some particular types of reasoning.
The genre influences the types of discourse produced by the reader or listener.  Three to four times as many different types of discourse were produced by nonfiction than fiction.

HOW GUIDE students through books????
Model fix-up categories
Where to read or look next to answer questions.
What kinds of books support which comprehension processes

Pay attention to the part of your brain that creates a picture of this part of the book. Decide on which picture you want to draw and draw one - be specific and detailed. THEY can only draw what they know.
What is the first time you realize understanding of a book is important? Readers who care about making sense of what they read don’t give up on stories where meaning eludes them. HARD can be FUN.

Use their thinking to make inferences through another’s eyes about perceptions other than their own.
Decide which character in the book that you are going to think like. NO SUCH THING Koller 1997.
Act out your character and let’s see if we can guess who.
Did it actually happen in the book? If yes where, and if no then was it an inference? And if so what in book supports it?

Reading Comprehension Strategies
Making connections—between texts, the world, and students' lives (sometimes called text-to-text, text-to-world, and text-to-self connections). Readers bring their background knowledge and experiences of life to a text.
Creating mental images. These "mind pictures" help readers enter the text visually in their mind's eye.
Asking questions. Readers who use this strategy actively ask questions of the text as they read.
Determining importance. This strategy describes a reader's conscious and ongoing determination of what is important in a text.
Inferring. When readers infer, they create new meaning on the basis of their life experiences and clues from the book.
Synthesizing. Although this strategy is sometimes considered a retell, synthesizing is a way of spiraling deeper into the book. Readers might explore the text through the perspective of different characters to come to new understandings about the character's life and world.
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Ineffective strategies
Don’t let students read by focusing on direct instruction. Need opportunities
Make students read what they don’t know about and don’t care about. District curriculum and or the Teacher mandates what to read.
Begin reading before students know enough about the topic to actually become interested enough to want to read.
New information usually piques interest which can translate into motivation to read.
Make student read difficult books. This often happens when a book is assigned to a whole class to read or heterogenous groups.
Interrogate students about what they read. There is a difference between teaching comprehension skills and testing comprehension.
Buy a computer program and let it do all the work. Computers and web site may reinforce skills, they can’t provide the specific feedback that students require. Intervention programs need to increase, not decrease, teacher involvement and emotional enjoyment.

Reciprocal teaching 1. Summarize what read, 2. Clarify confusing parts, 3. Ask questions, and 4. Predict what will come next.

The Activity
Has one or more purposes that can change as reading progresses, External message and internal purpose for construction of understanding which may conflict with external mandated purposes which may lead to incomplete comprehension..

The Context
How are reader’s purpose for reading and operations shaped by instruction, and how short- and long-term consequences are influenced by instruction, constitutes the teacher’s research agenda.
 How the activity is defined or executed, time and pace of the activity, where it occurs, and why children should participate in it or the motivation for it.

Comprehension is the prime motivator for reading.
Levels of comprehension

  1. Remember facts
  2. Critical reading
  3. Making inferences about the content of the text.

Literal - reader is aware of explicitly stated information
Inferential - reader arrives at implied facts by using prior knowledge and explicit information
Critical - reader makes evaluative judgment about the text

Reading Skills

Main idea
Cause and effect
Predicting outcomes

Proficient readers are able to monitor their activity and understanding as they read and make decisions needed to comprehend, by rereading, reading ahead, or seeking outside clarification. They can summarize and make predictions before during and after reading.

NRP reports on Direct explanation and transactional strategy instruction