Teachers Network
Translate Translate English to Chinese Translate English to French
  Translate English to German Translate English to Italian Translate English to Japan
  Translate English to Korean Russian Translate English to Spanish
Lesson Plan Search
Proud New Owners of teachnet.org... We're Very Flattered... But Please Stop Copying this Site. Thank You.
Our Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Popular Teacher Designed Activities
TeachNet NYC Dirctory of Lesson Plans

VIDEOS FOR TEACHERS
RESOURCES
Teachers Network Leadership Institute
How-To Articles
Videos About Teaching
Effective Teachers Website
Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Teacher Research
For NYC Teachers
For New Teachers
HOW-TO ARTICLES
TEACHER RESEARCH
LINKS

GRANT WINNERS
TeachNet Grant:
Lesson Plans
2010
TeachNet Grant Winners
2009
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
2008
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
2007
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
Other Grant Winners
Power-to-Learn
Math and Science Learning
Ready-Set-Tech
Impact II
Grant Resources
Grant How-To's
Free Resources for Teachers
ABOUT
Our Mission
Funders
   Pacesetters
   Benefactors
   Donors
   Sponsors
   Contributors
   Friends
Press
   Articles
   Press Releases
Awards
   Cine
   Silver Reel
   2002 Educational Publishers Award

Sitemap

Design by
Lisa Dempsey

 

TNLI: Action Research: Curriculum Implementation:
The Holy Grail: In Search of Reading Comprehension in the Second Grade

Our Teacher Research: Past & Present

Helping all students achieve higher standards

Teacher preparation and new teacher induction   Ongoing teacher professional growth   Teacher networks
Teacher leadership in school change   Helping all students achieve higher standards      

The Holy Grail: In Search of Reading
Comprehension in the Second Grade

By Marika Páez

Introduction
As I moved up with my students from first grade to second grade, I became increasingly concerned with my students' lack of reading comprehension. As they read harder books, they weren't understanding them. I thought if they were able to question themselves as they read, they might be able to identify on their own when comprehension had broken down and be able to use fix-up strategies, such as rereading, without needing a prompt from a teacher.

So, my research initially focused on the question: "How does teaching second graders to question the text impact their reading comprehension?"

Review of Research
I drew on the work of Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis (1997), Frank Smith (1997), and P. David Pearson (1994) to help me understand how researchers have thought about questions during the reading process and how teachers can teach it. With the knowledge of the challenge set out by the New York State Standards, and armed with the support of so many researchers, I set out on my search for the Holy Grail-helping my readers become excellent comprehenders.

Setting for the Study
This study was conducted in my second grade class of 18 students at the Future Leaders Institute (FLI), a small public school in Harlem. Ninety-six percent of my students are African American, and 90% qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The school uses a balanced approach to teaching literacy, components include: word study, shared reading, guided reading (small group reading instruction), independent reading, read aloud, and writing workshop. Teaching reading in this way is a challenge, because there is no scripted manual that tells teachers what to teach each day. Instruction is driven by assessment and teachers' knowledge of their students' strengths and weaknesses.

Getting Started: Finding our Questions
I taught questioning techniques during whole group, small group and individual instruction by modeling how I ask and answer questions during reading. Students began doing the work on their own in January, by recording their questions on post-its during independent reading and then trying to find the answers.

To help me gauge how my students were using these strategies, and how their reading comprehension might be affected, I selected case studies, one student from each of my high, middle, and low-middle reading groups (the lowest of which read on grade level).
Tools I used included: the Developmental Reading Assessment; the post-its students used to write down questions or thinking during reading; conference notes from my independent reading conferences; transcripts of some independent reading conferences; teaching plans; and my journal.

Giving Voice to Our Questions: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Our work with questioning produced mixed results.

The Good
  • Students were prolific post-iters and questioners.
  • More high-quality conferences.
The Bad
  • Time spent writing post-its took away from time spent reading.
  • Students asked so many questions that the questions became unmanageable.
The Ugly
  • Safe Questions. Some students focused on asking "safe" questions, only writing down questions they already knew the answers to.
  • "Dumb" Questions. I noticed that many students were asking questions which seemed to me, a proficient reader, to be "dumb" questions, questions that didn't seem to propel students' thinking about the story any further.
  • Determining Importance. Students didn't seem to have a sense as to which questions might be more important to answer than others.

My Learning
As I watched students read and listened to them talk about their books, I began slowly constructing and refining my own definition of comprehension. I realized that I wanted my students to be thinking about such things as character traits, character motivation, and what changes happen in a story over time. I was beginning to suspect that my readers needed to know more about what to expect when they came to chapter books. My students were proficient at asking questions, but they needed to be taught what to ask questions about.

The Plot Thickens: Second Graders Begin to Study the "What" of Their Chapter Books
At this point in the study (February), I began a class study of Story Elements based on a workshop I attended at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. I taught students to use the common elements that make up a story (Characters, Setting, Plot, Movement through time, Change) to structure their thinking about stories.
My research question broadened to include this new work: In a second grade classroom in which questioning strategies have already been introduced, how does introducing a study of story elements impact reading comprehension?

New Findings

  • Story element post-its were about issues more integral to comprehending the story.

  • Students were inferring.

  • Students developed stronger ideas about characters.

Making Sense of It All

  • Better reading "programs" are not the answer. All knowledge, including teacher knowledge, must be constructed by the learner. I had to go through the process of approximating the teaching I thought my students needed, receiving feedback from them, and readjusting my teaching in order to begin to understand what reading comprehension really means and how students begin to construct it. No reading textbook can teach me that.

  • It is important it is to teach both the "how" and the "what" of reading. My students needed to know and practice the process of asking questions as they read, but they also needed to know what kinds of things good readers ask questions about. Students need both process and content.

  • There is no Holy Grail when it comes to the teaching of reading comprehension.

Policy Recommendations

  • Give teachers control over what to teach in the classroom.

  • Provide more professional development on teaching reading comprehension for lower elementary teachers.

  • Implement balanced literacy structures to provide teachers with multiple ways to teach and assess reading strategy work.

The Good

  • Students were prolific post-iters and questioners.

  • More high-quality conferences.

The Bad

  • Time spent writing post-its took away from time spent reading.

  • Students asked so many questions that the questions became unmanageable.

The Ugly

  • Safe Questions. Some students focused on asking "safe" questions, only writing down questions they already knew the answers to.

  • "Dumb" Questions. I noticed that many students were asking questions which seemed to me, a proficient reader, to be "dumb" questions, questions that didn't seem to propel students' thinking about the story any further.

  • Determining Importance. Not only were the students asking "dumb" questions, but they didn't seem to have a sense as to which questions might be more important to answer than others.

The Good
The Bad
The Ugly
  • Students were prolific post-iters and questioners.
  • More high-quality conferences.
  • Time spent writing post-its took away from time spent reading.
  • Students asked so many questions that the questions became unmanageable.
  • Safe Questions. Some students focused on asking "safe" questions, only writing down questions they already knew the answers to.
  • "Dumb" Questions. I noticed that many students were asking questions which seemed to me, a proficient reader, to be "dumb" questions, questions that didn't seem to propel students' thinking about the story any further.
  • Determining Importance. Not only were the students asking "dumb" questions, but they didn't seem to have a sense as to which questions might be more important to answer than others.

To the Full Paper (pdf file. Need Adobe Acrobat? Click here.)

 

Come across an outdated link?
Please visit The Wayback Machine to find what you are looking for.

 

Journey Back to the Great Before