TRT Podcast#7: What can we learn about comprehension from the National Reading Panel?
Is it worth our time to teach reading comprehension strategies? Here’s some food for thought from the National Reading Panel.
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Full episode transcript
For this, our last episode about the National Reading Panel, we're looking at the goal of reading: reading comprehension.
Reading comprehension is understanding and interpreting what is read. The question is, where does it come from exactly? Is it just automatic if you decode the words and have sufficient language skill?
The National Reading Panel wanted to find out, does the direct teaching of comprehension benefit children? More specifically, is it possible to teach children to use comprehension strategies on their own to guide their understanding of text?
There are many different reading comprehension strategies, but the panel only found support for the following: question-asking, monitoring comprehension, summarizing, answering questions, story mapping, graphic organizers, and cooperative grouping. The most learning occurred when strategies were taught in combination.
The bottom line is that comprehension is not automatic. We can teach students to comprehend material better. We should use an "I Do, We Do, and You Do" model, gradually teaching students to do these strategies on their own, and giving this instruction within fiction and nonfiction as appropriate.
Comprehension is a HUGE topic and the National Reading Panel didn't really give us a lot of information, so I'd like to give you some food for thought. What comprehension is exactly and whether or not we can actually teach comprehension skills is a big debate in the science of reading world today. To learn more, you should check out the writings of Daniel Willingham and Christopher Such. I'll link to some articles in the show notes, which you can find at themeasuredmom.com/episode7.
See you next week!
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- The National Reading Panel Report: Practical Advice for Teachers, by Timothy Shanahan
- National Reading Panel’s report
- Can Reading Comprehension Be Taught? by Daniel Willingham & Gail Lovette
- The Usefulness of Brief Instruction in Reading Comprehension Strategies, by Daniel Willingham
- The Art and Science of Teaching Primary Reading, by Christopher Such
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