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Comprehension Instruction in Content Area Classes.

COMPREHENSION INSTRUCTION IN CONTENT AREA CLASSES. Neufeld, P., The Reading Teacher, 2005, 59(4), 302-312. As theory meets practice in reading instruction, we often wait for a maturational presentation or sensitive stage to arrive and solve a child's reading difficulties. However, waiting is not the answer for struggling readers who do not naturally make connections or identify strategies. For many students, the passing of time only leads to frustration and labeling. Comprehension is, by definition, the most vital component of reading. If you do not get meaning from the text, you are not really reading. Paul Neufeld presents an informed argument about the benefits of focused comprehension instruction. He adds that comprehension strategies should be taught across the curriculum and not simply confined to language arts. Neufeld contends that "when hands-on learning is combined with text-based learning, students learn more than they do if reading is not an integral part of the learning process" (p. 302).

Neufeld cites surprising research indicating that 4th- and 5th-grade teachers identified as the top in their fields did not directly teach comprehension skills, but rather offered opportunities to practice comprehension strategies. In this article, he provides convincing evidence of the benefits of explicitly teaching students comprehension strategies.

Neufeld examines the reading behaviors of expert comprehenders to clarify what comprehension consists of as the child experiences text. He then describes several comprehension strategies that are "teachable and useful" (p. 303). These strategies are divided into Getting-Read-to-Read strategies and During-and-After Reading Strategies. He offers detailed comprehension check lists, graphic organizers for different text structures, and key words. Having covered what is needed to teach students, Neufeld then explains how to teach these strategies in two phases, called Explicit Instruction of Individual Strategies and Teaching for Self-Regulated Strategy Use.

Neufeld ends the article by emphasizing the importance of comprehension in all aspects of learning. He also offers a list of suggestions for effective comprehension instruction. He cautions that if left to "their own devices, many students struggle to read and learn from texts" (p. 310). Although much of learning develops naturally, Neufeld believes that comprehension should not be left to chance, as it is a determining factor in future success. Reviewed by Angela Walker.
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Author:Walker, Angela
Publication:Childhood Education
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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