Archive for June, 2010


On page 182, Walczyk discusses “compensatory mechanisms” and the conditions under which they may be used. What does he mean by “compensatory mechanisms”?     Compensatory mechanisms are strategies or “tools” that students can use to help with comprehension of a text. For example, slow reading rate, look back or reread text, pause to gather and organize information, etc.

Walczyk argues that older readers and adults compensate for inefficient lower level processes, limited resources or difficulty of text when reading under normal (non-pressured) conditions? How do you think Walczyk might explain the poor readers’ failure to monitor their comprehension in the Long and Chong (2001) study?* Recall that subjects read passages in Long and Chong’s study at their own pace by pressing a space bar to present the next line, which erased the current line.     Even though participants could read at their own pace in the Long and Chong study, they could still feel pressure in the situation. If they are a struggling reader, they are probably having to focus on decoding words and actually reading the selection, which would make it difficult to comprehend and recall what they read. When I was reading the passages, I felt pressured because I was worried about if I would remember what I read when I was finished, and I could not look back in the text. In that study, the participants were at a disadvantage because could not use all of the compensatory mechanisms. They could slow their reading rate and pause to gather and organize information, but they could not look back in the text and they could only reread the line of text which they were presently reading.

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Luke was an eighth grade student who suffered from Seizure Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder, and he struggled with reading. Luke read on about a third grade reading level. It was believed that Luke’s problems were stemmed from his lack of attention. Luke’s biggest weakness in reading was fluency. Unfortunately, there are many students like Luke in our classes, that are several grade levels below in reading and who may suffer from ADD or other disorders that may complicate their reading ability.

During the summer reading clinic, Luke attended one hour tutoring sessions that were focused on improving reading fluency. Each night Luke was required to listen to a chapter on audio tape. After listening to one page, Luke stopped the tape and read the page himself. After reading the entire chapter, Luke reread the first three pages of the chapter. The first two minutes of each tutoring session were spent as a homework check. Luke would have to read a selected passage from the first three pages of the chapter he had read the night before, and the tutor would count the words read per minute.

After the homework check, Luke was participated in a guided reading activity using a third or fourth grade text, usually a biography. Luke and the tutor would partner read, alternating reading pages aloud. The tutor would check for comprehension, and Luke showed good comprehension of the text.

The next part of the lesson was a repeated reading, which was a 300-word passage from a chapter that he had previously read during guided reading. Luke had 2 minutes to read the passage, and aimed to read it as smoothly as possible. The tutor would record the words read per minute. Luke would read a particular passage 2 times in one session and 2 times the next session, so that each repeated reading passage was read four times. The last ten minutes of the session were spent as the tutor reading aloud to Luke.

During my student teaching, all the aspects of this intervention were included in our daily schedule. I teach afterschool tutoring for students who were believed to be “at risk” of failing EOG’s, and I also included these intervention strategies in my lessons.

Phrasing is an important component of reading fluency, and not knowing where to group or “chunk” the words decreases fluency ability. In order to improve phrasing ability, repeated reading and tape-recorder readings are highly recommended. Orally reading the text helps students learn how to identify chunks.

This article related the most to Ehri’s study. Ehri believed that all processes must be amalgamated in order for reading to be automatic. While Luke had no problem with comprehension, he had to concentrate on decoding and word recognition which decreased his reading fluency. As his decoding and word recognition became more automatic, his fluency improved.

Define these terms:

Propositions:  units found within a sentence to give the sentence meaning

Microstructure Textbase:  individual words, their order within a sentence, and the structure of a sentence found within the text.

Macrostructure:  the topic or main idea of a text.

Situation Model:  understanding the sentences that are read and linking them to prior knowledge.

Local Coherence:  understanding propositions in a sentence.

Global Coherence:  the thoughts and ideas that you understand from reading a text and what you link from prior knowledge.

Understanding the context (propositions) of a text is very important. One must understand what they read, link it to prior knowledge, comprehend it, and store it in their memory. The context is the reason we read a text- to gather information and understanding.

Working Memory

I believe that working memory is the ability to connect prior knowledge with new information, and remember it. Once information is placed in long-term memory, the process of retrieving the information is more “automatic”, and faster. Working memory is usually measured by tests, such as the SAT. Working memory plays a role in comprehension because as a person reads they must connect new and prior knowledge to get meaning out of a text. In other words, the brain is completing many tasks at one time.

Working memory fits into Adams’ theory because she believes there are many processors who are working simultaneously to complete the task of reading. Many things must also happen in order to retrieve information from long-term memory or place it in long-term memory.

This study by Betty Hart and Todd Risley shows the role that communication plays in vocabulary development. Sadly, it is very obvious what type of family children come from when they enter kindergarten. Some are read to every night, and others may not have ever seen a book (other than a magazine or sales paper that came in the mail). It is so frustrating that parents do not realize the effects that their actions have on their children. Children mimic what their parents do, especially when it comes to vocabulary. Therefore, parents need to communicate openly and use higher order vocabulary (as discussed in the Beck and McKeown study) when speaking to their children. The children will “pick up” these words and use them. Doing this will only help students be more successful in school, why do parents not want to better prepare their children for school?