Strategies on improving reading comprehension

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STRATEGIES ON IMPROVING READING COMPREHENSION CONTENTS Part A Introduction Part B Development I Effective strategies on improving reading comprehension I.1 Comprehension monitoring I.2 Cooperative learning I.3 Graphic Organizers and Story Structure I.4 Question Answering I.5 Question Generating I.6 Summarizing I.7 Multiple Strategy II When and how to use reading strategies III Steps to improve reading comprehension Part C Conclusion References Part A INTRODUCTION The main purpose for reading is to comprehend the ideas in the material Without comprehension, reading would be empty and meaningless In our practicum, we have all witnessed cases where students are capable of reading the words, but face much difficulty in expressing their comprehension of the main ideas Language teachers are often frustrated by the fact that students not automatically transfer the strategies they use when reading in their native language to reading in a language they are learning Instead, they seem to think reading means starting at the beginning and going word by word, stopping to look up every unknown vocabulary item, until they reach the end When they this, students are relying exclusively on their linguistic knowledge, a bottom-up strategy One of the most important functions of the language teacher, then, is to help students move past this idea and use top-down strategies as they in their native language Effective language teachers show students how they can adjust their reading behavior to deal with a variety of situations, types of input, and reading purposes They help students develop a set of reading strategies and match appropriate strategies to each reading situation As teachers, we need to have an understanding of the theories behind reading comprehension, as well as a working knowledge of some important strategies that can be used in the classroom to increase reading comprehension In this paper, we are going to focus on some effective strategies to improve reading comprehension Part B DEVELOPMENT I EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES ON IMPROVING READING COMPREHENSION Theoretically speaking, if the daily reading curriculum uses research-proven methods, students should develop skills for comprehending the text But you may be wondering which strategies are the most beneficial That question was answered in 1997 by a 14-member panel appointed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) The results of their research, published under the title “Teaching Children to Read” revealed that the seven most effective strategies are as follows: • Comprehension monitoring • Cooperative learning • Graphic organizers and story structure • Question answering • Question generating • Summarizing • Multiple strategy I.1 Comprehension monitoring Students who are good at monitoring their comprehension know when they understand, what they read and when they not They have strategies to "fix" problems in their understanding as the problems arise Research shows that instruction, even in the early grades, can help students become better at monitoring their comprehension Comprehension monitoring instruction teaches students to be aware of what they understand, Identify what they not make sense of and use appropriate strategies to resolve problems in comprehension In reading comprehension, reading activities can be divided into three categories, depending on when they take place: pre-reading, reading, and post-reading Pre-reading: Collecting and defining vocabulary terms from the text will assist students in understanding words that otherwise may interrupt their reading It will also help them increase their vocabulary in a meaningful, relevant way Students can record the terms in a notebook or on flash cards Another strategy involves having students preview comprehension questions so that they can focus on answering those questions as they read Reading: Teachers can guide students' interaction with the text by asking questions about literary elements, having students present oral summaries of the plot, or asking them to collect details or write observations on post-it notes If students have previewed comprehension questions, they can answer these questions as they read Post-reading: Summarizing (see below) is an effective strategy that can take many different forms I.2 Cooperative learning Cooperative learning is a strategy that maximizes student engagement, reduces class tensions, and promotes student learning Typically, students work in groups of four or five to the task given If you plan to use cooperative learning frequently in classes, consider arranging your classroom to facilitate learning in small groups The following are examples of how students can work cooperatively to learn more about a narrative work of literature: • Each group uses a plot diagram to locate and summarize a stage of plot development • Groups work briefly with the teacher to ensure their answers are correct • Students reassemble into new groups comprising one "expert" from each of the previous groups • These new groups pool their expertise to fill out every stage of the plot diagram • The session concludes with a class discussion of the novel, short story, play, or narrative poem I.3 Graphic Organizers and Story Structure Graphic organizers, which provide a visual map for the reader, can be placed next to the text as learners read in groups or individually, aloud or silently They are particularly useful in helping readers to understand the structure of a narrative or of an argument Following are descriptions of three types of organizers Comparison/Contrast: These organizers can help students consider the similarities and differences between stories, plots, themes, and characters by giving clues so that students can make differences and similarities among them Hierarchy Diagram: This graphic organizer can assist students who are reading informational texts of all kinds, whether related to language arts or to other content areas For example, consider placing characterization at the top of the graphic organizer as the overarching concept The next level of this graphic organizer can then be assigned to characters, and the last level can deal with methods of characterization, including the use of dialogue, author description, and action Matrix Diagram: This organizer is effective in representing comparisons and contrasts For example, students can use the matrix diagram to compare and contrast the styles of various authors by entering key elements of style at the top and then filling in the lower cells with the similar or different approaches of the authors they are considering I.4 Question Answering The typical approach to question answering is to answer comprehension questions upon completion of the selection, but questions can be a part of a reading lesson at many points In reading comprehension, questions can be effective because they: • Give students a purpose for reading • Focus students' attention on what they are to learn • Help students to think actively as they read • Encourage students to monitor their comprehension • Help students to review content and relate what they have learned to what they already know The “Question-Answering” strategy encourages students to learn how to answer questions better Students are asked to indicate whether the information they used to answer questions about the text was textually explicit information (information that was directly stated in the text), textually implicit information (information that was implied in the text), or information entirely from the student's own background knowledge I.5 Question Generating By generating questions, students become aware of whether they can answer the questions and if they understand what they are reading Students learn to ask themselves questions that require them to combine information from different segments of text For example, students can be taught to ask main idea questions that relate to important information in a text Besides, students can write questions about the story as a post-reading exercise These questions can then be integrated into formal tests or informal questioning games Teachers might want to suggest that students generate questions by adapting sentences from the text Students can also generate questions to identify their own uncertainties about the text They can then try to answer these questions by consulting teachers or other students I.6 Summarizing Summarizing requires students to determine what is important in what they are reading and to put it into their own words Instruction in summarizing helps students: • Identify or generate main ideas • Connect the main or central ideas • Eliminate unnecessary information • Remember what they read This is an effective strategy for readers who have difficulty remembering and writing about what they have read A summary can take many forms, including travelogues, journals, double-entry journals, and letters For example, students can create a travel itinerary that summarizes the action of a narrative, write a journal from a particular character's point of view, set up a double-entry journal about the theme of a work, or can summarize events in a letter that one character writes to another I.7 Multiple Strategy This strategy addresses individual learning styles by having students use different media - such as text, images, or video - to analyze or comment on a work of literature For example, readers can follow a procedure like this one: • Begin analyzing a story by using a worksheet listing the elements to be identified • Use word processors and instructional software to create and fill in graphic organizers with clip art and fields of text • Refer to worksheets for definitions to be added to electronic graphic organizers If students have access to video cameras and editing software, they can also create videos that offer commentary on a literary work II WHEN AND HOW TO USE READING STRATEGIES Teachers can help students learn when and how to use reading strategies in several ways: By modeling the strategies aloud, talking through the processes of previewing, predicting, skimming and scanning, and paraphrasing This shows students how the strategies work and how much they can know about a text before they begin to read word by word By allocating time in class for group and individual previewing and predicting activities as preparation for in-class or out-of-class reading Allocating class time to these activities indicates their importance and value By using cloze (fill in the blank) exercises to review vocabulary items This helps students learn to guess meaning from contexts By encouraging students to talk about what strategies they think will help them approach a reading assignment, and then talking after reading about what strategies they actually used This helps students develop flexibility in their choice of strategies When language learners use reading strategies, they find that they can control the reading experience, and they gain confidence in their ability to read the language Besides, reading is an essential part of language instruction at every level because it supports learning in multiple ways Reading to learn the language: Reading material is language input By giving students a variety of materials to read, instructors provide multiple opportunities for students to absorb vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure, and discourse structure as they occur in authentic contexts Students thus gain a more complete picture of the ways in which the elements of the language work together to convey meaning Reading for content information: Students' purpose for reading in their native language is often to obtain information about a subject they are studying, and this purpose can be useful in the language learning classroom as well Reading for content information in the language classroom gives students both authentic reading material and an authentic purpose for reading Reading for cultural knowledge and awareness: Reading everyday materials that are designed for native speakers can give students insight into the lifestyles and worldviews of the people whose language they are studying When students have access to newspapers, magazines, and Web sites, they are exposed to culture in all its variety, and monolithic cultural stereotypes begin to break down III STEPS TO IMPROVE READING COMPREHENSION In order to improve reading comprehension, students are advised to follow four basic steps: Figure out the purpose for reading Activate background knowledge of the topic in order to predict or anticipate content and identify appropriate reading strategies Attend to the parts of the text that are relevant to the identified purpose and ignore the rest This selectivity enables students to focus on specific items in the input and reduces the amount of information they have to hold in short-term memory Select strategies that are appropriate to the reading task and use them flexibly and interactively Students' comprehension improves and their confidence increases when they use top-down and bottom-up skills simultaneously to construct meaning Check comprehension while reading and when the reading task is completed Monitoring comprehension helps students detect inconsistencies comprehension failures, helping them learn to use alternate strategies 10 and Part C CONCLUSION Comprehension strategies are conscious plans — sets of steps that good readers use to make sense of text Comprehension strategy instruction helps students become purposeful, active readers who are in control of their own reading comprehension The seven strategies here appear to have a firm scientific basis for improving text comprehension As it transpires, the reading process can be influenced by many factors All of those factors, however, are reader-dependent These strategies introduced here can support and improve the performance of students before, during, and after reading Such strategies help students develop essential skills for understanding and extracting meaning from text and boost their performance on reading comprehension assessments In addition, students who benefit from scaffolded learning are better able to function as independent readers and to express ideas in a variety of ways As a whole, appropriate reading strategies are of paramount importance, as they condition the success in the overall comprehension of a text 11 REFERENCES International Reading Association 1996 Summary of the (U.S.) National Reading Panel Report "Teaching Children to Read." Edmark 1997 Let’s Go Read http://www.edmark.com/prod/lgr/island/ Fox, B A 1993 The Human Tutorial Dialogue Project: Issues in the Design of Instructional Systems Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum IBM 1998 Watch Me Read http://www.ibm.com/IBM/IBMGives/k12ed/watch.htm Juel, Connie 1996 What makes literacy tutoring effective? Reading Research Quarterly 31(3), pp 268-289 The Learning Company 1995 Reader Rabbit’s® Interactive Reading Journey™ 12 ... increase reading comprehension In this paper, we are going to focus on some effective strategies to improve reading comprehension Part B DEVELOPMENT I EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES ON IMPROVING READING COMPREHENSION. .. Monitoring comprehension helps students detect inconsistencies comprehension failures, helping them learn to use alternate strategies 10 and Part C CONCLUSION Comprehension strategies are conscious... I.4 Question Answering The typical approach to question answering is to answer comprehension questions upon completion of the selection, but questions can be a part of a reading lesson at many
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