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SunshineKris
09-08-2010, 04:46 AM
How can I improve my son's reading comprehension? We read the story (or story section) for the day, and then I ask him the questions following the story (from my guise). He looks at me with this deer in the headlights look most of the time. I do stop and review what we have read as we go through, but honestly the passages we read are not long. Each story from the book is broken down into a few days so there's not much reading all at once. And the questions are not difficult, asking him some abstract ideas and concepts. They are general about the reading, asking him to use slightly different words. Really, it's taking all I've got to not just get super-annoyed with him. I know it's not his fault, that he just wasn't taught reading in this style. Anything done in class was done with a multiple choice worksheet, which in no way brings about real comprehension. That's just prompting, in my opinion. Now he's working on real comprehension, having to answer questions that don't have an answer in front of him, requiring some thought behind the answer.

I am so sad for him that the schools have pretty much done away with this skill. :mad:

Teri
09-08-2010, 09:18 AM
Does he read on his own?
I don't see how the school could completely do away with reading comprehension. Even when we are not reading for school, I ask them very general questions about the books they are reading at home....like, "what happened in your book last night?"

Are you reading to him? Is he reading out loud to you? To himself? I am wondering if he is reading this to himself and concentrating so hard on READING the words, that comprehension takes a backseat.
Does he do better when you read it to him? or listens on an audio recording? If so, I would make reading comprehension lessons different than reading (mechanics) lessons.

StartingOver
09-08-2010, 10:59 AM
When we read stories in sections, I always start with a short review of what we read yesterday. Then I ask questions as I go along. But I don't mind if he doesn't give me the answers, if he doesn't know I help him out. I often hear him later acting out stories we read. So I know that he is listening. He also loves to teach his sister about what we read. For example: We read from Uncle Wiggily's book yesterday, about a boy not wanting to go to the dentist to get rid of a bad tooth.

My questions might be...Why did he not want to go? ( He was scared ) What color cane did Uncle Wiggily have? ( red, white, & blue ) What did they use for a dentists char in the woods? ( A stump ) What did Uncle Wiggily hold up that looked like a tooth ? ( a white rock ) Was the boy scared of the dentist afterwards ? ( No he went to the dentist )

Very exact questions that require a very direct answer. It gets easier as you go along. Soon we will start on narrations.

Anyway that's how we do it.

LJean
09-08-2010, 11:07 AM
Is there a way to ask the questions throughout the reading instead of waiting until the end, as Jana does? Or asking your own questions while you are reading until he gets a better understanding of it?
Hang in there!

Fiddler
09-08-2010, 11:20 AM
Hi Kris,

A couple of ideas for you to consider--

Susan Wise Bauer has some "Tips for Narration" (http://www.welltrainedmind.com/tips-for-narration/) over at the WTM site. She suggests starting very small (read two sentences and have the child condense them into one). I've liked Writing with Ease (http://www.welltrainedmind.com/store/the-complete-writer-writing-with-ease-workbook-1-pdf.html) (note: the teacher's manual is NOT necessary unless you really want to know the philosophy behind using narration for reading comprehension) for learning to narrate, and only wish it had been around when Jazz was young enough to appreciate it.

Jazz is going to be using a Commonplace Book (http://harmonyartmom.blogspot.com/2010/02/thinking-is-inseparable-from-reading.html) for reading comprehension, etc. starting very soon! Students use Commonplace Books to copy quotes, write down their thoughts, illustrate, and/or summarize what they are reading. It can be scrapbook-like if you want.

I do notice that's it's easier for my kids to answer questions/narrate when we each have a copy of what is being read aloud and even take turns reading aloud.

HTH!

schwartzkari
09-08-2010, 11:30 AM
My daughter learned how to read while using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I really liked the way the book covered reading comprehension. Throughout the mini stories, she was required to stop reading, repeat the sentence she just read and then answer a question. After reading the story, then she looked at the picture that went along with the story and answered 5 or 6 questions about it.

My favorite question to ask after reading is "so what was YOUR favorite part of the story we just read?" and I expect to hear her version of her favorite part.

I know you mentioned you are not fond of multiple choice text BUT I wanted to recommend FlashKids workbooks. My daughter is working out of the Grade 1 Reading Skills and even though it is multiple choice, I have seen her reading and comprehension continue to develop.

SunshineKris
09-08-2010, 12:09 PM
Sometimes he reads alone, sometimes I read to him but most often we share the reading back and forth. He reads well, and he reads often on his own for fun (not expressly school-related). I do try to ask questions as we go along, review the reading from the day before, and summarize with him at the end. Conveniently the curriculum also has questions we are "supposed" to ask which are story related, and it's quite helpful as a guide. Maybe some of the concepts the curriculum is trying to teach him are just a bit beyond him right now? Things like inference, prediction, or cause and effect. I think inference is the hard one for him. And trying to understand why the characters may do something in the story. He's never really had to scratch the surface and dig deeper before and now he has to. I know he can do it; I think he's just nervous about a concept he's not used to.

Teri
09-08-2010, 01:22 PM
Some kids do have a harder time with the inference questions. It's an out of the box kind of question that requires higher order thinking skills...unlike asking for facts that happened in the story.
A lot of our questions are like that. The important thing to remember is that there should be no WRONG answer to a question like that. It may not be what you are looking for or as deep as you are wanting, but if he responds, go with it and maybe add something like, "oh yeah, I can see that, What do you think about x? I was thinking that maybe the character wanted....."
I try to encourage a back and forth exchange rather than it be question/answer time. Since I have three doing the same literature, we can have some pretty lively conversations. ;)
If he has trouble verbalizing it right now, you might start with making those types of observations on your own.
Or he might like making a picture of it.

farrarwilliams
09-08-2010, 01:53 PM
If he has trouble verbalizing it right now, you might start with making those types of observations on your own.


My first thought was that maybe it was more about verbalizing. If he reads for fun on his own, I'm thinking he does have at least decent comprehension. I would start working on just talking about the story - retelling the story. The idea of narrations is a good one. I would worry less about the terms and the "official" questions and more about whether he can just articulate things about the story - why, how, what kind of questions. Then, as he answers them, you can sneak in the vocabulary.... "Ah, so you inferred that from the way that character hid the jewels..." - that kind of thing.

School can really rob kids of their sense of comprehension in reading, I think. It should be about dialogue, not about bubbling in circles that many kids can just game out the answers to by skimming for key words.

jettyspagetti
09-08-2010, 05:21 PM
We had a lot of issues with reading comprehension in third grade with my son. It was frustrating and I remember being at my wits end. I ended up giving him discussion questions written on index cards before he read a passage so that he could have an idea of what to focus on while reading. I found that it worked for us and would lead to more in depth questions. I think the biggest problem was his lack of interest in the reading material. We used a nonfiction reading comprehension test prep workbook that year also and had zero problems with the questions. Third grade was the year we used a cyber school that used a textbook with speciafic reading assignments. Last year and this year we just pick and choose individual books- I usually read them as well or my husband will so we can discuss them together and we use any lesson plans we can find for discussion questions to go along with them. We've had really great results. I feel like when I stopped worrying so much about it, he started enjoying it more. Now if I can jsut relax a bit about math my life should be perfect, lol.

Theresa Holland Ryder
09-08-2010, 05:40 PM
My first thought was that maybe it was more about verbalizing. If he reads for fun on his own, I'm thinking he does have at least decent comprehension. I would start working on just talking about the story - retelling the story. The idea of narrations is a good one. I would worry less about the terms and the "official" questions and more about whether he can just articulate things about the story - why, how, what kind of questions.

I'm with farrarwilliams on this one. When my kids were starting with these kinds of exercises, once upon a time, I'd always start with having them retell me the story. If I got the deer in the headlights look, I'd start telling the story myself, all wrong.

"Once, three evil little pigs moved into a very nice wolf's neighborhood and started building slumhouses to rent to illegal immigrants. . ."
"MOM! That's not what happened!"
"Oh yeah? What did happen?"
Usually it was enough to get them going. If not, I would keep adding in wrong details for them to correct until eventually they loosened up and told me the whole story. Sometimes the fear of getting it wrong can mute a kid faster than any other kind of stage fright. :)

Fiddler
09-08-2010, 05:48 PM
If I got the deer in the headlights look, I'd start telling the story myself, all wrong.

My kids *love* for me to do this. I ought to do it more often! Thanks for the reminder.

BPier12
09-08-2010, 06:03 PM
Jazz is going to be using a Commonplace Book (http://harmonyartmom.blogspot.com/2010/02/thinking-is-inseparable-from-reading.html) for reading comprehension, etc. starting very soon! Students use Commonplace Books to copy quotes, write down their thoughts, illustrate, and/or summarize what they are reading. It can be scrapbook-like if you want.


Thanks for sharing this idea, Fiddler! I've been banging my head against the wall trying to figure out a way for DS to communicate his thoughts about what he is reading because he is very reluctant to get into discussions with me. I like the Commonplace book idea, especially the flexibility of what the student can include. We'll give it a try! :D

fbfamily111
09-08-2010, 07:06 PM
I have a form of Dyslexia that affects audio only. When someone reads to me I can barely understand a word of it. I didn't realize until I was much older, because of the way my Dad told stories. He would give each character it's own voice. Including the narrator. I never had a problem until college. Lectures spoken in a unwavering monotonous tone. As long as there's change in pitch and tone I get most of whats being said.

One of my favorite questions to ask for comprehension is "what do you think will happen next?" If they don't comprehend what was just read, they can't answer in detail. Plus this is like verbal writing. It gets them involved, listening, to see if they were right.

SunshineKris
09-09-2010, 01:49 AM
Fiddler, thanks for sharing the Commonplace books idea! I am going to work that in. I can see how it wold work well for longer selections or regular length books, but I wonder about the selections from his reading book. Maybe if we read the entire selection instead of breaking it up, then working on it for the next couple of days.

I often have to start the discussion, but often end up giving him the answer we're looking for. I need to be more creative.

Fiddler
09-09-2010, 07:43 AM
"what do you think will happen next?"

Love it! That's a great one.

Other comprehension and non-comprehension questions for specific books can be found in the various books of Suppose the Wolf Were an Octopus (http://www.rfwp.com/series24.htm). I'm about to use the grade seven book with one of the books were reading next week. There are at least four questions for each level of Bloom's Taxonomy: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. I haven't decided exactly how to use them yet, but I'm hoping to pick and choose to start discussion amongst my kids.

Topsy
09-09-2010, 09:45 AM
One product that made a difference for my son, whose reading comprehension has always been really poor, was the Reading Comprehension Booster from Merit Software. Here is the link: http://www.meritsoftware.com/software/reading_comprehension_booster/index.php In fact, I can recommend pretty much ALL of Merit's stuff. We have used several things from them and been pleased with all of them, I think.

Fiddler
09-16-2010, 08:18 PM
Topsy, does any of the Merit Software work on a Mac? I noticed that the demo for the Reading Comprehension Booster is an exe file, which I can't run. I'm interested, though. I think I need to use the computer more to engage Jazz's interest these days. Though the idea of a digital commonplace books isn't too terrible. . .

Kylie
09-17-2010, 01:05 AM
I've been considering Drawn Into The Heart of Reading, for this but wondering if it is overkill.

Stella M
09-17-2010, 07:49 PM
This is what I would do for a child who seemed to be having trouble comprehending what was being read to him/what he was reading.

Break it down into smaller chunks. If he's not doing well with a page or two, get him reading a paragraph or two. If a paragraph isn't working, get him working on a sentence or two. After every 'chunk', get him to tell it back to you.

"So, what's happened so far in the story ?"
"What do you think is going to happen next ?"
"Can you draw me a picture of the scene and tell me about it ?"

That kind of thing...in my experience, when it is a matter of getting used to comprehending and expressing that comprehension, rather than a specific learning disability, practice in this way - short and conversational - seems to work well.

Also, if the material he is meant to be comprehending is quite dull, that may be an obstacle to even wanting to listen/read/comprehend.

If he is still concentrating on the mechanics of reading, it might be hard to pay attention to the story at the same time. let him read it onc, then read it aloud to him again ?

Can he comprehend and tell you about other things - movies, games, what the family pet is doing etc ? If he doesn't have a problem with that, maybe it's just a practice thing ?

Just what comes to mind, hope you find a good solution that works for you.

Stella M
09-17-2010, 07:55 PM
Oh, and if he is reading for pleasure on his own (just re-read the posts here), I personally wouldn't worry about comprehension questions at all!! Kids won't read for pleasure if they don't understand what they are reading. A lot of the terms and deconstruction of writing can wait till they are older and are best done through book discussion, in my opinion - which you are totally free to disregard! :)