Key reading and learning skills such as making connections; asking questions; making predictions; visualising, drawing inferences; determining importance; synthesising information; monitoring and clarifying understanding are the cognitive and metacognitive strategies readers and successful learners use to accomplish the goal of comprehension.
Students who are less skilled at comprehending usually focus on word accuracy rather than comprehension monitoring and generally have weak metacognition skills. Explicit instruction in reading, learning and metacognitive strategies is therefore vital for these students as it enables them to monitor and assess their on-going performance in understanding what is being read.
NBSS Level 2 support is about identifying, targeting, planning and monitoring short-term, focused interventions for small groups of students who could benefit from this work. This can involve building mastery of specific literacy and learning skills and strategies. For example, in one school the teachers saw a disconnect between students reading ability and comprehension ability. When reading the students were decoding words but not reading for meaning. Teachers also noted that with some students, acting out was most likely to occur when the students perceived the work to be too challenging.
Once a week, for 40 minutes a targeted group of eight students were explicitly taught reading and learning strategies with the aim of helping them to become more purposeful, active readers, thinkers and learners.
The following key reading and learning skills, that effective readers and successful learners use, were explored during the weekly lessons i.e.
· Making connections
· Inferring and predicting
· Determining importance
· Monitoring and clarifying understanding
Students were explicitly taught how to use various before, during and after reading strategies that would help them construct meaning during the reading-thinking process. Using NBSS reading and learning resources, students explored how:
a) Before reading strategies activate prior knowledge and set a purpose when reading.
b) During reading strategies can help them make connections, generate questions, stay focused and monitor their understanding.
c) After reading strategies enable them to summarise, question, reflect and respond to what they have read.
Prior to starting the weekly lesson the teacher involvedin this action research project administered the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability (NARA II). This is an individually administered test that aims to measure the accuracy, comprehension and rate of reading as well as monitor reading progress and obtain diagnostic observations of reading behaviour. This test was then re-administered at the end of the intervention with six of the eight students.
The following table presents the pre and post reading ages and pre and post comprehension ages for six of the students (two students were absent at the time of retesting) who attended the weekly comprehension and learning strategies class.
|Student||Pre Chronological Age||Pre Reading Age||Pre Comprehension Age||Post Chronological Age||Post Reading Age||Post Comprehension Age|
During the seven month period - approximately 20-24 lessons - all students tested improved their comprehension age by a minimum of 18 months.