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Discuss what you understand by the term ‘reading comprehension’.
Reading comprehension is a process that is built up from a range of different learning components. Founder, Sedita, J. (2015) talks about their importance surrounding comprehension and the close link that comprehension has with these different areas. She states that if a child was suffering from comprehension tasks, teachers should look if the child have problems in other areas of reading. If so, they will find it more difficult to reach their end goal of successfully mastering reading comprehension. These components include:
- Phonemic awareness
- Phonics teaching
Joan Sedita (2015) continues to talk about how phonemic awareness as well as phonics teaching are usually taught in the early years, so that children are familiar with words once moving through the key stages. Myers, J and Burnett, C (2004) state that phonics teaching is the reading of graphemes (letters) in a text and how they represent the phonemes (sounds). Joan states that the more practice that children have with recognising the sound of the different letters the more accurate they will be in decoding them and therefore making meaning from them. However, a research study conducted from Klinger., et al (2010) stated that there was a strong focus on literacy skills related to phonological development and decoding, but very little to increase their comprehension skills. This therefore will decrease the children’s ability to read between the lines of a text and support their reading comprehension skills. Strickland, W.D. (2013) agrees with this and believes that learners should be taught comprehension strategies by coupling surface level information from texts as well as extracting meaning from it (critical thinking).
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Another important component is vocabulary. If a child is not exposed to a wide range of vocabulary once they are young, they may struggle with the process of reading comprehension. Once children have reached the age of six their vocabulary knowledge should reach a maximum of 1000 words (Caposey, T., and Heider, B. (2003). Eyres, I. (2007) comments however that children need support in developing different strategies that help them make sense of a text. He continues to talk about how written texts are a lot different than spoken ones and strategies on how to effectively engage and better understand these texts needs to be developed.
Myers, J and Burnett, C (2004) believe that DARTS activities provide children with a large variety of ideas to explore and comprehend a text. Myers and Burnett continue to talk about how the process of DARTS helps develop children’s literacy skills. These activities will not only promote literal understanding, but also encourage a child’s reading comprehension. Iser, W. (1978) supports the positive contribution that DARTS have involving the development of literacy as he believes that reading involves active engagement with texts in order to construct meaning. Myers, J and Burnett, C (2004) supports this by stating that critical reading and understanding of the text is encouraged when children can discuss and evaluate what they have read.
Baker, S.K, et al (2017) talks about the other two critical areas, which are reading each word accurately and fluently as well as comprehending the meaning of the text being read. Klinger, Vaughn and Boardman (2007) state that once children know how to decode and read words fluently it has little to no impact if the child is unable to construct meaning from the text itself. Baker, S.K., et al (2017) stated that once the fluency of reading and comprehending of reading are combined, they create the process called the ‘simple view of reading’.
This ‘simple view of reading’ consists of word recognition skills and language comprehension processes. The strategy simplifies the overall outlook of the reading process and highlights clearly both the processes that constitute reading as well as the dynamic interplay between word recognition and language comprehension (Eyres, I. (2007). The simple view of reading is a vital part in reading comprehension and can be the difference in children successfully extracting meaning from the text. Stated in The Rose Review (2006), teaching of reading comprehension needs to be more explicit as it depends crucially on language comprehension. Teachers need to develop more unique teaching strategies, combined with increasing their own knowledge of oral language development and language comprehension.
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In conclusion, there are several key components that join to create effective reading comprehension. Eyres, I (2004) states these as ‘cueing systems’ and are created in the processes of reading. Stated from Blickenstaff, J., Et al (2013) review, comprehension is an important element during all areas of literacy development. Students that can read more fluently are therefore more capable to focus on the meaning of the text. They are also able to capture more information and effectively use their background knowledge with what they have just read. Eyres, I. (2007) supports this and comments that children’s familiarity with the structure as well as other aspects of a genre can aid their comprehension skills and successfully develop their overall reading comprehension.
Discuss how the teaching approaches you used to teach reading skills in each lesson will develop children’s reading comprehension skills. (1200 words)
The National Curriculum for English (DfEE, 2014) states that good reading comprehension is linked with linguistic knowledge, vocabulary and grammar. A teacher’s overall goal is to promote high standards of different language and literacy skills by slowly developing the child’s spoken and written language first through encouraging the enjoyment of reading. The book chosen, ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ will develop children’s literacy skills by teaching them the process of both retrieving information from the text (inferring) as well as discussing the authors use of certain language (figurative language). This essay will focus on two consecutive lessons and how they link closely to the impact that these lessons have on the development of reading comprehension. DfEE (2013) highlighted in teaching standard 2 that teachers must promote prior knowledge, progress and outcomes in their teaching. As these English lessons are taught consecutively, the teacher can observe and manage the progress of the outcomes attained by the children.
The first consecutive lesson focuses primarily on inferring characters feelings and retrieving this information from the text. Children must be taught to read between the lines of the story and extract important parts of information surrounding the characters feelings. (Harrison, C (2004). Myers and Burnett agree with this and believe that once a child studies a text critically it can help towards children gaining an insight into their own feelings as well as the experiences of others or the characters that they are reading about (Myers, B., Burnett, C (2004).
The second consecutive lesson focuses more so on figurative language (personification) and how the author used this type of language within the text, ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’. The plenary of this lesson allowed the children to work together to create their own sentences containing figurative language (personification). Jones, D. Hoodson, P. (2012) supports this teaching and believes that providing children with interactive learning experiences will later be beneficial to their discussing, negotiating, speculating and justifying skills. In order to successfully and effectively retrieve information from the text, children must engage their working memory with each-other to enhance their knowledge of reading comprehension. The main activity associated with this lesson was created so that children can use their imagination and draw visually (infer) the extract read aloud to them from the book. Clay, M. (1998) believes that children’s routes towards successful reading comprehension vary. Talk and drawing are two very significant forms that shape a child’s understanding of a text.
Myers, B. Burnett, C (2004) believe that if teachers do not use questioning and allow children to discuss their ideas in class they may simply work in silence or talk about matters unrelated to the task at hand. Hence why effective questioning is used throughout both English lessons and is prominent both in the starter activities, main and plenary. Class teacher will lead the activities and tasks through targeted questioning (the ball game) and asking recap questions in the plenaries. Jones, D. Hoodson, P. (2012) believes that the use of targeted questioning can allow teachers to have an insight into the development of a child, in regard to, their cognitive understanding, competence in speaking as well as listening. National Curriculum for English (2014) stated that children develop comprehension skills through high quality discussions with their peers and teachers, as well as reading a range of different stories, poems and non-fiction.
Wells, G. (1985) states that children usually enter education already having a strong basis of using spoken language at home and knowing how language is used by their family, friends and local community. Tizard, B. (1984) also agrees with this and believes that children are already skilful speakers by their prior knowledge of spoken language at home. This will help teachers to aid the questioning part of the two different lessons and sculpt it to a suitable level for each child. Differenation of questions were scaffolded so that each child feels confident in answering questions throughout both lessons. Graham, J and Kelly, A. (2008) stated that confidence will develop a child’s independence and capabilities to exploring more interesting and challenging texts. Graham and Kelly continue to talk about if children are more open to wider range of reading materials and different language, a child’s strategies in grammatical knowledge and language comprehension will strengthen. This will therefore develop their ability to construct meaning from the text. In both consecutive lessons the teacher gives children the opportunity to answer confidently, scaffolding the questions according to their ability levels. Once children can answer questions aloud, teachers can identify the children that understand the text more clearly than others, and therefore focus more on supporting children that need help.
DfEE (2013) highlight on the importance of the use of assessment in teaching standard 6. It states that teachers should make accurate and productive use of assessment. This is evident in both English lessons as both plenaries show visually if the children met the learning outcomes or not. Jones, D. Hoodson, P. (2012) believe that children need to be aware of the objectives of the lesson as well as the assessment at the end. Through allowing children to be involved in this process they will be able to understand what activities and teaching is involved as well as why they need to do them. Pupils assessing each other’s drawings in the second English lesson opens peer assessment and the importance this has towards individual performance. The more proficient readers can scaffold and support the weaker readers by sharing their ideas. This will allow them to further develop in their inferencing skills. The proficient readers will use their prior knowledge of what they already know as well as their listening skills and share these ideas with their peers. Caposey, T. and Heider, B. (2003) conducted a study involving a selection of small groups which helped one another learn a specific subject area. They concluded that students learn more effectively in a cooperative way by having an aim of working towards an objective. This was prominent in the directed activities in both lessons. Eg; hot seating activity and creating their own sentences involving personification.
In both English lessons national curriculum targets were met. Each lesson is linked closely with the importance of reading comprehension and how it develops and strengthens children’s understanding of a text. The National Curriculum for English (2014), stated that it is essential for pupils at the end of their primary education, that they can read fluently, and with confidence. Activities created in both English lessons will help strengthen this and support strongly towards their literacy skills for later education.
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