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Research For The Classroom

By Author: peter
Total Articles: 191

Shouldn't They Already Know How to Read? Comprehension Strategies in High School English

Let's face it: Teachers like school. And English teachers love language. Naturally, there are exceptions, but, in general, teachers' experiences of academic failure are minimal—as are English teachers' experiences of frustration with reading or writing. Brian Nicholson and Grainne ODonnell maintain that "Most teachers were 'good' students—capable, well-regarded children who were able to work effectively towards a desired outcome. For us, effort and result usually balanced. And if we had a strong aptitude for a particular Replica Tag Heuer Watches subject, we could get good results with minimal effort". It is probably safe to assume that most of us who chose to teach English language arts developed an affinity for language and literacy practices early in our lives. Our comprehension strategies developed intuitively, almost naturally, as we encountered and even sought out interesting and challenging texts. Like talented athletes, we probably became fluent readers and writers almost effortlessly, our skills fostered by our passion for the worlds we discovered and created through language.

Many students, however, bring skills to school that differ from those of practicing (or aspiring) English teachers. These students may excel in the areas of music, mathematics, athletics, or art—but struggle as users of language. For them, reading and writing feel painfully unnatural; they have experienced so much failure that frustration precedes the act of engaging with text. In most school systems, formal reading instruction typically ends in middle school, implying that secondary students are presumed to have acquired the literacy skills necessary for academic success prior to entering high school. Secondary English teachers understand the fallacy of this presumption. Every year our classes include students who have difficulty comprehending various texts. However, without a Omega Replica background in reading instruction, we frequently end up as frustrated as the students. Our innate talent becomes an enemy precisely because language fluency, for us, is relatively effortless. Why students can't understand and apply what, to us, seem like intuitive literacy processes?

One remedy for this dilemma lies in the explication of these processes. If we can reveal, first for ourselves and then for students, the thinking skills that underlie effective comprehension strategies, then we can teach these strategies explicitly, the way we teach concepts and information. Recent scholarship demonstrates the effectiveness of teaching strategies that facilitate text comprehension. This type of intentional instruction offers secondary teachers tremendous possibilities for helping struggling readers. Practical implications that will be described below include active, explicit engagement of higher order thinking skills coupled with the application of the gradual release of responsibility model.

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