Comprehension is the goal of all reading. A student who can decode all the words in a text, but fails to take any meaning away from that text, has not accomplished his goal. Often, teachers focus on asking students to remember what they have read. While remembering what is read is an important step in the process of comprehension, there is more to it than that. Comprehension includes the ability to understand, or take away meaning, from the text. To develop well-rounded comprehension abilities, students must be taught both memory and comprehension strategies.
Memory Tips: Activate Prior Knowledge
Activating prior knowledge is a pre-reading strategy that will connect students with what they are reading. By talking about any prior experiences before beginning to read, the reader will bring that recalled information to the new text. For example, if the book is about monkeys, a teacher can form a relationship between reader and text by asking if the reader remembers seeing the monkeys the last time he went to the zoo. This way, you establish a personal connection, thus engaging the reader with the words on the page and making them more meaningful and easily remembered.
Memory Tips: Mnemonic Devices
Using mnemonic devices is a useful strategy to remember key terms or ideas within a text. This strategy is best used to remember facts and details. It is least helpful for deeper comprehension or interpretation of text. Examples of mnemonic devices include rhymes, such as the one that helps us remember the length of months: "30 days has September, April, June and November. All the rest have 31, except for February which stands alone." Acronyms are another form of mnemonic device, such as ROY-G-BIV to remember the order of the colors in a rainbow.
Comprehension Tips: Visualizing and Verbalizing
Visualizing and Verbalizing is a program developed to provide strategic support to students who struggle to make meaning from text. This program teaches readers to visualize, or picture, what is happening as they read. By doing so, the reader is able to answer key questions and think more critically about what is read. Participants in this program start visualizing at word level and work up through stages of sentence level, paragraph level, page level and finally, text level. By scaffolding the strategy in this manner, readers become accustomed to using the visualization process to understand the larger concepts necessary for improved comprehension.
Comprehension Tips: RAP Strategy
The RAP Strategy emphasizes the reader's ability to understand smaller portions of text before being faced with comprehending the entire piece. The steps in this strategy are to: read, in which the student reads one paragraph of the selection at a time; ask, in which the reader asks himself what the main idea of that paragraph is; and paraphrase, in which the reader paraphrases what he has learned before moving on to the next paragraph. If the text is long, a graphic organizer or outline can be used to help the reader reflect on the piece as a whole and determine the author's purpose, theme or argument.
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