Saturday, February 28, 2009

Do you comprehend what I'm saying?

In class, we had mentioned that certain parts of language arts needed to be concentrated on within a week or even within a day. These included phonics, comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, etc. Even my CT emphasized that comprehension is something that is incredibly important for second graders to be practicing. However, when going through the Thompkins text, I was surprised. This feeling was because of all of the elements to comprehension. There isn’t just a basic level of comprehension, but instead we have to focus on nonfiction, text structures, and literary devices.

My CT has stood firmly that comprehension is important. However, I don’t see any of the strategies used in Thompkins to help aid in this. I have seen her test comprehension in a formal way, such as given a reading level test. But part of me worries that maybe she isn’t doing enough to teach the students strategies in comprehending text. As adults, it is kind of a difficult concept to gather: Not only do we have to teach children how read, but also how to understand what it is that they are reading. It comes so natural for us that it is probably something that most don’t even recognize the importance of.

On the other hand, within the duration of the school year, I have seen her lead brief discussions with the class as a whole, talking about text to text, text to self, and text to world connections. I feel as if this is a great example of practicing comprehension skills. My only concern is that maybe some aren’t capable of practicing the skills that they have yet to develop.

On the first day of class, Erin asked if we first remembered learning to read. I was not a person who remembered. But I always remember being very fluid and having good comprehension skills. This was never a problem for me. I consistently read a text as if I was watching it play out on a movie screen. When entering college, I was introduced to text of a different level. Things like poetry, theory, and some scholarly non-fiction never seemed to click when I read them. But after reading Thompkins, I realize that maybe I only learned how to comprehend a specific type of material. My strategy of playing out the movie in my head fails if there isn’t a movie when Carl Jung is talking about the collective unconscious.


  1. Great post! I feel that as teachers we need to give more examples of what we are 'expecting' or notes on main points for students to keep in mind what they should be looking for and making notes... It's hard to explain the types of thought processes that students can make, or ways to make connections to other materials and themselves to motivate learning. :-)

  2. When the teacher is giving reading tests, is the intent to test reading comprehension? My thought is that the student can read the text without comprehending it. I am curious if the reading tests just determine the words the students read. I feel that even if students can read words at a higher grade level, they are not reading at that grade level unless they comprehend the words and the story at the higher grade level. What do you think, are the reading tests testing comprehension?

  3. Nope... some of those packaged texts are testing recall... the ability to REMEMBER, or very basic knowledge-based comprehension. (e.g., who was the main character, what happened in the story, etc). Very few elementary comprehension tests get at whether or not students have brought the text (idea, theme, plot, message) into their own working memory or schema... It's hard to get at that... Can you think of any ways how? Maybe performance assessments are better than written ones?? hmmmm....