Teaching Reading Comprehension Strategies by Thinking Aloud
Reading comprehension is the ability to read text, process it and understand its meaning – Wikipedia.
Reading comprehension is introduced to students in Grade 1. Typically, a short passage is presented to students and then they are asked to read the questions that follow and provide answers. Students are asked to read the passage to find the answers they are looking for.
But, is that all there is to reading comprehension? Is it just about reading questions, then going back to text, finding answers, and then filling out the answers?
As students go to higher grades, they realise that the questions related to reading comprehension become complex. You can no longer go back to the text to find your answer, because the question is not a direct question asking for facts, instead the question requires students to read the passage and draw inferences about the character, the setting or at times read between the lines to infer the message the writer was trying to put across.
Our mind performs multiple thinking and analysing skills as we read text, process it and understand its meaning, and it is these skills that we need to teach children. Unless we don’t teach them how to analyse what they are reading, how will they learn to do so?
Of course, students cannot read our minds, so it is important that we “model our thinking” to them by “THINKING ALOUD”, and teach them how to comprehend what they are reading.
Watch this Reading Workshop video (26 min length) from Teaching Channel. As you watch, think about the following points:
- How does the teacher set the focus/objective for a mini lesson?
- How does the teacher model his thinking to students?
- How does the teacher facilitate learning/thinking during the silent reading session?
- How does the teacher pair up students to aid weaker students, and thereby frees his time to focus on other groups?
- How does the teacher persuade students to think about every sentence/word they are reading?
Click the image to view the video.
After you’ve watched the video, visualise a class, where the teacher:
- Reads a chapter aloud.
- Stops after a paragraph and thinks aloud his/her thoughts and share his/her thinking with the students.
- After repeating the routine, the teacher asks students to think aloud and share their thoughts.
- Asks others if they agree; if not, asks them to share their perspective.
- Encourages students to cite evidence from the text to support their reasoning/perspective.
- At the end, asks students to write a character description or the main idea for the piece they have read.
When students walk out of this class, do you think they will have a better understanding of the text as opposed to having just read text and then answer questions that follow?
What reading strategies do you use with children?