Reading Comprehension: Putting It All Together

girl-277719__340, CC0_pixabayIn previous blogs, we’ve discussed the importance of phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary (morphology), and fluency. Today, we’re going to examine how these components work together to develop the most important reading skill of all, comprehension. The ability to read words and sentences is a critical step to comprehension. However, years of research have demonstrated that accurately reading words and sentences does not automatically transfer to understanding the material read.

Reading comprehension, simply put, is the ability to understand and gain information from what you read. It is an important step in the reading process as children move beyond learning to read and start the invaluable skill of reading to learn.

As children reach about the third grade, they should have a solid reading foundation. The focus of their instruction will no longer be on sounding out words but rather on gaining meaning from text. Putting the pieces together to develop a deeper understanding of literature and non-fiction text. Some key elements for strong reading comprehension involve vocabulary development, both oral and written, inference, and text structure. These higher order thinking skills along with decoding are imperative in order to gain meaning from reading the text.

favicon_starfishAs a side note, but a very important one, if your child is still struggling with phonological awareness, phonics, or fluency in the third grade, it is essential that you get them help from trained reading clinicians. Without these skills, it is unlikely that they will be successful and will fall further behind in school.

Although comprehension becomes the main focus of reading instruction in the third grade, it is an important component beginning in preschool. Comprehension difficulties usually fall in one of two categories. The first category of inaccurate word decoding skills will limit a student’s ability to understand the meaning of what was read. The second category for poor comprehension is demonstrated by weak language skills, understanding our spoken language and its subtleties. A student may encounter challenges with word reading, understanding the vocabulary and subtleties of our spoken language, or a combination of both.

Here are a few ways that you can help support and enhance your child’s reading comprehension skills.

  1. Always ask your child about what they are reading. Ask who the characters are, what the setting is, what problem the characters face, and what the solution is in fiction text. If your child is reading nonfiction, ask them what the topic of the text is, what the main idea is, and have them prove it to you by showing you examples in the text. These skills are perhaps the simplest and most foundational reading comprehension skills. If your child struggles with these even as young as kindergarten and first grade, it is not too early to get them online reading tutoring. Intervention from a trained reading clinician can help them stay on track and ensure they do not struggle later. If your child is older, say second grade or higher and cannot answer these types of questions, you should absolutely contact a reading clinician to have their comprehension assessed.
  1. Help your child create mental images, when appropriate. One of the most important comprehension skills is the ability to create pictures while you read. When you read with your child, ask them about what they are picturing in their mind as you read. Always ground their mental images in the text by asking why they picture what they do. Have them point out specific words or lines of text that informed their mental imaging.
  1. Encourage your child to ask questions. Before, during, and after reading you can encourage your child to ask questions about the text. For example, if they are reading a fiction text, you could ask what they think will happen, why a character is behaving the way they are, or what the characters could have done differently. In nonfiction text, you can ask them what they may know about the topic, what information is the author focusing on, or about any unanswered questions they have about the topic. This can be a great way to encourage further research on a topic that interests them.

bef6b-mosaic2bbooks2bto2bideasAs your child gets older and moves into upper elementary and middle school, you can encourage them to use post it notes as they read to ask questions, record unknown vocabulary words, and note any surprising information. This can be a great way for them to interact with the text and for you to monitor their understanding. Plus almost all kids love getting to use post it notes so it may even motivate them to read more.

These are a few ways that you can encourage your child to use comprehension strategies before, during, and after reading. They are essential for helping students understand what they read and gain information from text.

As students get older, this is the most important and most emphasized skill in school. Nearly all standardized text reading questions directly related to reading comprehension. It is also the most important skill that adults use regularly to function in society.

dictionary-390055__340, CC0_pixabayOur online tutoring program at RW&C incorporates reading comprehension as soon as our students are reading. Each and every lesson includes a time for reading a passage and applying a clinician selected and modeled reading strategy. Students who need comprehension instruction are given explicit instruction in that strategy, and their practice is monitored.

We also employ comprehension strategies at the sentence level if students are not developmentally ready to read an entire passage. When your child works with one of our reading clinicians, they will get the comprehension instruction that they need.

Unlike a box program or pre-recorded program, our clinicians respond to your child in real time, clearing up any misunderstandings and ensuring that your child understands their passage as they are reading it. We also work with you to practice these skills at home in a meaningful way.

If your child struggles with reading comprehension, get them the help they need today. Contact us for a screening to determine if your child needs intervention.

Becky Welsch

RW&C, LLC

www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.

Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy.
Becky has experience with early literacy skills like phonics and phonemic awareness development. She has used several structured literacy programs including Language! and Spalding phonics. She is also trained to administer DIBELS tests and has worked with the DIBELS Next reading remediation program.
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Phonics: Understanding The Relationship Between Sounds And Letters

Phonics: Understanding The Relationship Between Sounds And Letters

mosaic-catepillarIn a previous post about phonemic awareness, I discussed the importance of emergent reader’s understanding of phonemes or sounds in words. As children develop strong phonemic awareness skills, they need to begin to associate the sounds in words to letters or graphemes. The relationship between sounds and letters is called phonics.

 

Phonics is an essential building block in the reading process. Without learning to associate the phoneme with the grapheme, reading cannot occur. For fluent readers, phonics seems almost common sense, however, there is no natural connection between sounds and letters. Phonics cannot be learned through osmosis but instead must be explicitly taught.

 

748fa-alphabet-1219546__340252c2bcc0_pixabayPhonics is particularly important for emergent readers. Beginning around the age of 5, children should have daily explicit phonics instruction. Like many reading skills, some children may need only minimum exposure to a letter to connect the associated sound. Other children may need repeated and constant exposure to a letter to become automatic in connecting the correct sound. If your child is older and still struggling with letter-sound relationships, they can still benefit from phonics instruction. Every child must know the names and sounds of all the letters in the alphabet to become a good reader.

 

Here are a few ways that you can practice phonics skills with your child at home to help increase their reading proficiency:

  • Word Building: Using letter cards or Scrabble tiles, have your child build words. Encourage your child to first segment the sounds orally and then use the corresponding letter card to build the word and blend it back together. Talk with your child’s teacher or reading tutor to find out appropriate words to work on.
  • Letter Sound Practice: Make flash cards of letters or spelling patterns and quiz your child on them. For a list of appropriate spelling patterns talk with your child’s reading clinician  or teacher.
  • Race to Build a Word: Draw 7 consonants and 2 vowels from a stack of letter cards. Challenge your child to a race to see who can build the most words in 3 minutes. To make this more challenging use digraphs. Digraphs are two adjacent letters in the same syllable that represent a single speech sound. Some examples of consonant digraphs are (sh, ch, th, etc.). Vowel digraphs often called vowel team examples such as ( ee, ea, ay, ai, etc.) will add a higher level of practice . Check with your child’s teacher or reading tutor to see which digraphs are appropriate for your child’s level.
  • Slap A Letter: Create a game board of letters and digraphs that your child is working on using butcher paper or poster board. Give your child a fly swatter. Call out a sound and have your child slap the appropriate spelling pattern with their fly swatter.
  • Writing Practice: Say sounds and have your child write the appropriate grapheme. Say words and have your child segment the sounds and spell the words. Encourage your child to tell you how many sounds are in a word and identify any instances where two letters make one sound (like ck, sh, ay, etc.). Always ask your child to segment before writing and read the word when they are done.

 

mosaic-booksThese activities will help your child develop the phonics skills necessary to become a fluent reader. If you have an older child who struggles with reading, you may consider trying some of these to find out if phonics is an area they struggle.

If your child struggles with this foundational skill, it is imperative that you get them help from a reading specialist with training in structured literacy. Without explicit phonics instruction, it is unlikely that students with reading difficulties will increase their reading proficiency. If your child struggles, the best thing you can do as a parent is get them help as early as possible.

In our online tutoring program, our trained clinicians systematically and thoroughly teach phonics concepts to ensure that children master reading and writing. We also encourage parents to work with their children at home and provide many resources for you to use to help your child. If you are worried about your child’s reading, call us today to discuss your needs and learn how online tutoring with systematic phonics instruction can help your child succeed.

Look for more reading tips and tricks coming soon. If you are concerned about your child’s reading, call us today to set up a screening and find out if our online tutoring program is the right fit for your child.

Becky Welsch

RW&C, LLC

www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.

Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy.
Becky has experience with early literacy skills like phonics and phonemic awareness development. She has used several structured literacy programs including Language! and Spalding phonics. She is also trained to administer DIBELS tests and has worked with the DIBELS Next reading remediation program.
Beat the Summer Slump with Online Tutoring

Beat the Summer Slump with Online Tutoring

 

online tutoring
With online tutoring your child can stay
sharp all summer long and even pick up new skills. This will help keep them
ready for the challenges of the new school year.
 
As a teacher, I have personally seen what is called the
“summer slump.” When students come back to school in August or September they
are often lacking skills that they had mastered towards the end of the previous
grade level. Even students that are advanced academically come back with
deficits. Most students are able to catch up relatively quickly because for
them, reading is like riding a bike. However, for students with dyslexia and
other reading difficulties, the summer slump can make school even more
challenging and frustrating.
It is important to note that summer skill loss is not
inevitable. By engaging your child in reading activities that are purposeful,
rigorous, and fun it is possible for your student to retain all of their
previously learned skills and even make progress.
One great way to beat the summer slump is with an online tutoring program. The online tutoring program we offer at
RW&C is a comprehensive structured literacy methodology and includes instruction
from a trained reading clinician. All of our clinicians have proven their ability
to understand the ins and outs of the English language and use effective
strategies to teach it to students. With our online tutoring program your child will receive forty-five minutes
of direct, focused instruction each week.
online tutoring
In addition, our clinicians will assess your child in order
to make sure s/he receives quality, targeted instruction. Since our tutoring is
one on one, there is no one size fits all and the program is adjusted to fit
the needs of your child. This means that whether your child struggles with
language, phonemic awareness, spelling, comprehension, or some combination of
skills, our clinicians will be able to deliver the content your child needs to
improve individual skills.

Our online tutoring program also offers flexibility. Since you don’t have to physically be present,
your child can get help anywhere there is Wi-Fi. This means that most trips
don’t have to be scheduled around your sessions because you can complete them
on the go.

Finally, our online
tutoring
is designed to be fun. Our clinicians are skilled at motivating
students and keeping them engaged. There is also a fun, game based online
practice options that kids love! This additional weekly practice is key to
success and students have a great time with it. This helps build skills as well
as a positive attitude around reading and spelling.

 

If online tutoring sounds like a good option for your family this summer, call our office today to
schedule your first session. With quality online instruction your child will be
on the right path towards over-coming the summer slump and retaining all those
skills s/he worked so hard to gain last year. 

Becky Welsch

RW&C, LLC

www.rwc4reading.com

(480) 213-4156






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.

Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy.
Becky has experience with early literacy skills like phonics and phonemic awareness development. She has used several structured literacy programs including Language! and Spalding phonics. She is also trained to administer DIBELS tests and has worked with the DIBELS Next reading remediation program.

Teaching 8th Grade is (not) Terrifying

Death stare from a 13 year old, anyone?

Death stare from a 13 year old, anyone?

A little background about me: I am a teacher. I have been teaching for seven years. During this time I have taught 1st grade, 2nd grade, 5th grade, and 7th/8th grade. When people ask what I do, I get a variety of responses depending on what grade I am teaching that year. With first and second I usually heard about how “cute” the kids are or how “fun” it must be. With fifth, people didn’t have much to say, with middle school, the result was almost resoundingly “bless your heart” or “I could never do that” or something with a similar sentiment. The general public is terrified of groups of 12-13 year olds. But I am here to tell you, middle school kids are just like 1st graders, for better or for worse.

I would run from this too

I would run from this too

Games. Middle school students and 1st grade students play the same games. Like really, they do. When I taught first grade I had a student come in from recess with a giant mouth shaped bruise. I was horrified. I frantically ran through what the phone call to parents would sound like in my mind. I asked the student where the bruise came from. They were playing zombie tag. Apparently someone took it a little too seriously. Teaching 8th grade, I had a student come in from lunch with a skinned knee. I assumed he got it playing basketball or soccer. Nope. Zombie tag. At 13.

"teacher, I hurt myself"

“teacher, I hurt myself”

Boo-boos. A large part of being a first grade teacher is doing injury and illness triage. When a 7 year old told me he didn’t feel well, my general response was to “get a drink.” Usually in about 10 minutes, he forgot he felt bad. And guess what? This trick works in middle school as well. I also spent a lot of time putting on band aids in first grade. Usually the wound that required bandaging was so minute that one would need a magnifying class to see it. Last week I was giving the AIMS test in an 8th grade room. An 8th grade student raised his hand because he was bleeding (the wound was minute). I got him a band aid. Five minutes later he called me back over with a sheepish look on his face. He asked me to put it on. I put a band aid on a 13 year old.

 

"OMG, I don't care what you think, but really I do."

“OMG, I don’t care what you think, but really I do.”

Approval. Every child I have worked with really just wants you to like them. First graders try to accomplish this by giving you wonderful masterpieces and works of art. I have home-made ornaments on my Christmas tree and a box of special treasure that six year olds have gifted to me over the years. Usually with a touching sentiment about being the “bestest teacher ever” (I try not to let this go to my head by reminding myself that I am literally one of two at this point). In 7th and 8th grade, they also just want you to like them. I never received any works of art from my middle school students, but they expressed their need for approval in other ways. For example, I had a group of 8th grade boys who would stay after school every day to talk to me about “The Walking Dead” (wonder where they go the idea for zombie tag…). I practically had to chase them away. Every Monday they would come in and ask me about the show and try to spoil the episode for me because I always DVR’d it to watch later. They wanted me to like them and that show was our connection. And ultimately, that is all any kid of any age wants. To be liked and valued.

 

 

Grapes

I hate grapes. With a deep, burning passion. Hate, hate, hate, hate the stupid things. Why, you may ask, why does someone hate such an innocuous fruit? Middle school. I hate grapes because of middle school.

I have lunch duty in the cafeteria during 7th and 8th grade lunch. My administration decided that there needed to be a certified teacher on duty with middle school instead of just aids and cafeteria workers. Somehow I drew the short straw and am the lucky lady who gets to spend 40 minutes of my day with hormonally fueled pre-teen students. Awesome.

Most days it’s not so bad, except when they serve grapes. Grapes are too throwable. They are too crushable. It is way too much fun to try to launch them into your friend’s mouth or squish them under your feet. The crunching sound of a grape as you slowly squeeze it between your fingers is entirely too satisfying. I get it kids. Grapes are fun.

But it is not fun when you have to be the grape police. I have to “gently” (read: scream at the top of my lungs in an already noisy, echoey cafeteria) remind kids not to throw grapes across the table. And I have to not so gently remind them not the chuck them at the back of my head (read: scream at the top of my lungs and threaten to send them to the principal). Throw in the cafeteria “boss” (aka a cafeteria aid on a power trip) who is constantly demanding that kids sweep the floor, and this 40 minutes becomes pure hell.

So my plea to school districts everywhere, stop with the grapes. Just stop. Find a fruit that is not quite so fun. Like orange slices. No one has a good time with orange slices.