Novice readers are unable to recognise when to access prior knowledge. Explicit teaching of this skill required. Here meta cognitive thinking is really important – thinking about one’s thinking.
A key aspect of meta cognition is self-management – which consists of: evaluation, planning and regulation. Evaluation refers to analysing the task characteristics and personal abilities that affect comprehension. “Planning involves the selection of particular strategies to reach the goals that have been set or chosen. Regulation is the monitoring and redirection of one’s activities during the course of reading to reach the desired goals.”
Instruction about meta cognitive thinking led to increased comprehension and performance.
By providing reading materials related to field trips or current areas of study, a student’s field of knowledge about that topic can be expanded.
Exploring the task
Selection of texts will depend on what the teacher is expecting students to do with the text. If independent reading is required then the text needs to be something matched to their performance level. If teachers want students to access more complex texts they have to teach the text. The Australian Curriculum is about increasing the rigor of what students can read through high-quality instruction. The teacher has an important role here – not just setting the work.
Explicit teaching and a supportive framework is required. Opportunities for students to practice strategies with others, discuss ideas and listen to how more able readers interpret and think about texts, and then apply these strategies (gradually) more independently are really important factors in a quality teaching program.
As apprentices, students need to have thinking made visible. There are a number of components that can be modelled, including comprehension, word solving, text structures, and text features.
Comprehension – teachers can model- visualising, inferring, summering, predicting, questioning or monitoring. These should be used as appropriate to the text being explored not curricular used with a certain number of weeks allocated to each strategy. Readers have to learn to notice clues that trigger specific, useful cognitive strategies. Students need to see these as problem solving strategies to be used when meaning breaks down.