Archive of ‘Reading’ category

Text Complexity – Raising Rigor in Reading – Fisher, Frey, Lapp

Comparing Skills and Strategies

Strategy Skills
A conscious plan under the control of the reader. An automatic procedure that readers use unconsciously.
Requires thought about which plan to use and when to use them. Do not require thought, interpretation, or choice.
Are process-oriented, cognitive procedures the reader uses, generally unobservable in nature. Are observable behaviours, found on taxonomies, skills tests, or answers to questions.
Instruction focuses on the reasoning process readers use as they interact with text. Instruction focuses on repeated use until it becomes habitual.

“Strategies become skills with instruction and practice. The challenge is to apply these skills to increasingly complex and diverse texts.”

A chart enables students to compile information for a closer understanding of a topic and understood by analysis of several texts.

Learning about a topic

Text 1: Important Ideas

Text 2: Important Ideas

Text 3: Important Ideas

What I learned from Text 1

What I learned from Text 2

What I learned from Text 3

What I learned from reading the texts


A teacher can help students to fully comprehend and analyse a text, regardless of their instructional levels. Students can read, discuss, and scrutinise a text multiple times to conduct a deep analysis and comprehension, with their teacher acting as a guide.Each revisit strengthens the readers’ base of knowledge, language, concrete reasoning, evaluative judgment, and text analysis skills.

It’s difficult to create a simple lesson to teach students to understand a complex text. It takes time to develop the thinking skills necessary to read complex texts. It also takes really good instruction. It is possible to teach students to read complex texts but it requires more than just giving students hard books and hoping that they get better at reading. Teaching starts with a deep understanding of what makes a text complex.  Text complexity involves both quantitative and qualitative factors, and what a teacher requires students to do with the text can also build in complexity.

With appropriate instructional supports, texts can be reread and analysed to unearth complex structures, themes and insights. Once read and understood the text can be more deeply analysed in terms of content, such as events, chronology, motives, time sequence, propositional hierarchies, story grammar, and logical structures.

3 factors explored:

1. Quantitative measures of the text

2. Qualitative considerations about content, structure and cohesion

3. the reader and the task

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Assessing Reading Comprehension – Fiction Texts

The attached rubric can be used as a guide to explicitly teach students to think deeper about their reading of fiction texts, moving from literal to inferential and evaluative levels of understanding. Through modelling and guiding students through the Here, Hidden and Head levels on the rubric with shared texts, students can begin to use the process in a more self directed style with independent texts.
It can be adapted for use with different year levels. For example my year 5 students are focusing on ‘characters’, ‘setting’ and ‘plot’, whereas the year 6 students have also been exploring ‘language’ and ‘themes/ messages’. As the year progresses we will look at other aspects.

The rubric can be used as an assessment of learning, and for learning. For example, after completing a recent reading assignment, students were provided with feedback and a copy of the rubric with their personal achievements highlighted. Students were then guided to set their goals for the term using the next step on the rubric as a guide. In this way students take more personal responsibility for their learning.

Graphic organisers, such as webs, Venn Diagrams, comparative charts etc, can be used to enable all students to successfully show depth of thinking.
Fiction Reading Comprehension Assessment – Lawlor 2013 v3

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Literacy Block

Successful elements of Literacy Block this term:

  • Class novel which links with the focus area
  • Comprehension strategies modelled through the use of the class novel, e.g. visualisation, think aloud, questions, predictions, etc.
  • Finding examples of the focus in students individual texts e.g. dialogue – explore the punctuation patterns, similes, metaphors
  • Students practising the comprehension strategies during independent reading – showing proof via post it notes, records, blog entries, goal setting and review.
  • Applying author’s craft to their own work – using dialogue – characters from the class novel (Shadow Puppets), then applying this technique to their own story writing
  • Using multi-media elements to communicate their story
  • Reading the great student written stories aloud to the class

Expand next year by including:

  • Guided Reading – as per last term, but limit to three in each group to ensure engagement.
  • Regular partner reading sessions, focusing on the reading comprehension strategies
  • Build in CAFE approach by involving students in regular goal setting – Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, Expand Vocabulary
  • Develop fluency further by adding recording of students reading aloud on their blog – Audioboo, Audacity, Educreations, Show Me
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