Vocabulary & Comprehension

Teaching Comprehension

Comprehension, the ability to understand and gain meaning from language, is closely related to a student’s background knowledge. Research about comprehension following the NRP report has confirmed the effectiveness of explicit teaching of multiple strategies. It is recommended students be taught to distinguish the elements of narrative and expository text and to apply specific comprehension strategies, including self-monitoring their own reading (metacognition), previewing the text and making predictions; organizing and retelling information presented; recognizing story structure; generating questions about the text; identifying main ideas and summarizing text passages; engaging in self questioning and visualization; and confirming or revising predictions (Carlisle & Rice, 2002; NICHHD, 2000; Pressley & Wharton-McDonald, 1997; Rosenshine, Meister, & Chapman, 1996).

Teacher-directed, explicit reading comprehension instruction should include the use of modeling, thinking aloud, questioning, summarizing, and other techniques that promote active construction of meaning (Moats, 2005). In addition, increasing the amount of time spent in reading appropriate level texts with teacher supports or scaffolds results not only in improved word reading but in comprehension as well (Kuhn et al., 2006).

Inferencing Graphic Organizer

This graphic organizer is designed to explicitly demonstrate an inferencing lesson.

Three graphic organizer templates are provided to adapt the lesson for Kindergarten through 3rd grades.



Teaching Vocabulary

Teaching students to learn new words involves providing explicit instruction about important words from text and helping them learn strategies to independently learn new words. As texts increase in complexity, students need strategies to continue to expand their oral and written vocabulary abilities (Kamil et al., 2008; Loftus-Rattan & Coyne, 2013).

Conclusive research reported explicit vocabulary instruction in the early grades results in children learning more words (Graves & Silverman, 2011, citing Beck & McKeown, 2007). Explicit instruction about word meaning can be provided in many different ways: teachers can explain the meaning of a word, give students examples of a word in different contexts, assist students with word choice when writing, and ask children to give examples of how to use words.

Semantic Feature Analysis Grid by Reading Rockets

The semantic feature analysis strategy uses a grid to help kids explore how sets of things are related to one another. By completing and analyzing the grid, students are able to see connections, make predictions and master important concepts. This strategy enhances comprehension and vocabulary skills.

How to use semantic feature analysis

  1. Select a category or topic for the semantic feature analysis.
  2. Provide students with key vocabulary words and important features related to the topic.
  3. Vocabulary words should be listed down the left hand column and the features of the topic across the top row of the chart.
  4. Have students place a “+” sign in the matrix when a vocabulary word aligns with a particular feature of the topic. If the word does not align students may put a “–” in the grid. If students are unable to determine a relationship they may leave it blank.

Source: Reading Rockets

Choosing Which Words to Teach

As a way to begin thinking about which words to teach, consider that words in the language have different levels of utility. In this regard, we have found our notion of tiers, as discussed in Chapter 1, to be one helpful lens through which to consider words for instructional attention. Recall that Tier One consists of the most basic words — clockbabyhappy — rarely requiring instruction in school. Tier Three includes words whose frequency of use is quite low, often being limited to specific domains — isotopelathe, peninsula — and probably best learned when needed in a content area. Tier Two words are high-frequency words for mature language users — coincidenceabsurdindustrious — and thus instruction in these words can add productively to an individual’s language ability.

Source: Reading Rockets

Vocabulary Analysis Tool

Use this printable graphic organizer to help students define and decode words. This tool can also be used with the 5 Easy Steps for Reading Big Words bookmark.

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