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INTEGRATING

Reading

COMPREHENSION Into the Homeschool Curriculum

This practical publication will help you develop your child’s reading comprehension through the use of researched-based skills and strategies that can be adapted to virtually any subject area.

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JEWELS EDUCATIONAL SERVICES FOR UP-AND-COMING SCHOLARS


JEWELS EDUCATIONAL SERVICES FOR UP-AND-COMING SCHOLARS

Integrating Reading

Comprehension INTO THE HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUM

by Fred W. Duckworth, Jr. Copyright © 2013

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Table of Contents Introduction

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Planning and Preparation

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Unit Introductions

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The Pre-reading strategies

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Gathering Background Information

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Comprehension Strategies

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Comprehension Strategy Worksheets

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Comprehension Skills

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Comprehension Skill Worksheets

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Comprehension Assessments Sample Assessment

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Appendix A

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TrinityTutors Virtual Academy Instructor’s Guide Sheet

Why Study English? Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that communicate regularly using both spoken and written language, allowing us to share information, work together cooperatively, plan for the future, develop our understanding, pass on traditions and converse with our Creator. While much more could be mentioned about the importance of learning English, suffice it to say that language in general is a central and vital part of the human experience, with English in particular becoming ever more prevalent as a global and international language—hence the importance of providing you with the best English instruction possible. Indeed, the importance of being able to read, write and speak English well cannot be overemphasized, which is why it is probably a good idea for you to learn to maximize your skills in the area of reading comprehension.

TEACHERS: Please ensure that your students know that the word comprehension means "understanding." I will be coming to your rooms and choosing students at random whom I will ask, “What does comprehension mean?" Hopefully I will get the correct answer, after which I will say something like, "Great! So, if comprehension means understanding, what is reading comprehension?" I am anticipating your pupils will be able to inform me that, "Reading comprehension is being able to understand what you read."

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TrinityTutors Virtual Academy Instructor’s Guide Sheet

Making Connections However, by comprehension I don’t simply mean being able to recount what you have read. Rather, I’m talking about the ability to develop and change your understanding of the world, yourself and those around you based on new ideas formed as a result of the literary works you encounter. One of the best ways to do this is by learning to use a strategy known as making connections. You see, to read literature merely because it was assigned by your teacher is to miss out on some of the best opportunities you may encounter in your career as a student. Writers usually want their audiences to take something away from their work—to leave readers with something to think about and remember. Accordingly, one of the goals of this class is to guide you in discovering the possibilities such opportunities afford in terms of growth and understanding and thereby convey the value of reading written works of art. In helping you develop your reading comprehension, I will be focusing on going beyond simply helping you understand text. Indeed, I will do everything possible to ensure you develop a habit of going deeper—to construct, change and revise your ideas about yourself, others and the world around you based on the meaning, insight and revelation you garner from the pages of good literature. So then, making connections is a way to synthesize new information and build understanding.—of using your prior knowledge along with textual clues to draw conclusions and develop unique interpretations of text. It’s a tool for helping you use books and stories to think about important things in new ways and begin considering things that enrich not only your experience in the text, but your experiences in life as well. The point of making connections is to maximize your understanding of text by identifying elements in a story, article or selection that bring to mind aspects of your own life. It involves thinking and reading at the same time; identifying connections between what you already know and information in the passages.

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However, there should ideally be more to it than that. The ultimate goal is to learn to respond to text in ways that enhance your understanding by connecting with central ideas. In other words, you try to identify with something the selection keeps coming back to. The whole point to making connections is to relate to an element or elements in the piece that assist you with your reading by helping you better understand and appreciate the “deep� messages the author is trying to communicate. Making connections will help you develop meaning and insight by reflecting on your personal, emotional and intellectual responses to literary selections. It will also help to make your thoughts and reflections more visible and enduring. Consequently, it will be a key component of our reading program this year and something with which I trust you will become intimately familiar.

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TrinityTutors Virtual Academy Instructor’s Guide Sheet

Program Overview The following outline will give you an overall picture of our 8-step reading program. 1. Prior to instruction (you and) your teacher will select overarching themes for the six or so units you will be completing this year and then select literature appropriate for those themes. 2. When beginning each unit, you will discuss the central topic, being sure to engage in the process of making connections between the topic and your own life and background knowledge. 3. You will then go on to discuss specific literary selections, making connections once again, though this time between the given work and your personal experiences. 4. Before you begin to actually read the selection, you will apply pre-reading strategies that will include browsing, making connections, making predictions, asking questions, wondering, and deciding on a purpose. 5. On Monday and Tuesday you will practice and review the use of selected comprehension strategies by applying them to the passages assigned on those days. These strategies include wondering, interpreting, making connections, predicting, summarizing, clarifying, adjusting reading speed, visualizing, asking questions and rereading. 6. On Wednesday and Thursday you will practice and review the use of one or two comprehension skills by applying them to the passages assigned on those days. These skills include classifying and categorizing, author’s point of view, sequence, main idea and supporting details, compare and contrast, cause and effect, author’s purpose, fact and opinion, drawing conclusions and drawing inferences. 7. On Friday you will be given a comprehension assessment that incorporates all six levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. 8. If continuing with the same literary selection the following week, you will review the theme, discuss predictions, and apply the pre-reading strategies to the upcoming passages. Then repeat steps five through eight until the entire selection has been read. 7


TrinityTutors Virtual Academy Instructor’s Guide Sheet

Central Topics Establishing a unifying concept or idea To facilitate the learning process this year’s reading program will be divided into units, each organized around a central topic or idea. The central topics will serve as organizing ideas or concepts designed to guide you through the learning process as you strive to maximize comprehension and gain depth of understanding. You might say that central topics give you the “big picture.” They will be a key part of our reading program, so it is critical that you have a clear understanding of this concept and always remain aware of the topic currently under study. There are two different types of central ideas. There are universal ideas like friendship and survival, which encourage deep and critical thinking; and then there are research topics such as weather, astronomy, and ancient civilizations, which foster inquiry and research in other content areas like science and history. Our first central idea will be "Decisions, Decisions." We will begin every new unit with a pre-lesson in which you make connections with that unit's central idea. This will essentially be no more than a discussion in which you access your prior or pre-existing knowledge, sharing your past experiences or what you already know with respect to the topic at hand.

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TrinityTutors Virtual Academy Instructor’s Guide Sheet

Pre-lesson / Unit Intro Directions: You will always begin new units or literary selections with a pre-lesson which is essentially no more than a discussion focused on making connections. If you would prefer to respond to these discussion topics in writing, you may do so on a sheet of loose leaf paper.

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So then, what do you already know about decisions?

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When I say the word "decisions" what thoughts come to mind?

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I’d like to find out what else you already know about making decisions. So tell me, can you share anything else about making decisions or the decision making process? What else can you tell me?

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There are different approaches one might take when making a decision. Can you suggest one for me?

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If the students are not responsive… For example, one approach is to compare and contrast. What do you know about this approach, if anything?

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Another technique for making decisions is to weigh “pros” and “cons.” Is this something with which you are familiar, and if so, what do you know about it?

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What would you say is the best decision you ever made in your life and why?

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Have you ever made a decision that you regretted or one that had negative consequences you had not originally anticipated? What happened?

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Is there anything else related to making decisions that you’d like to talk about, investigate or understand better?

10. In what ways are the various aspects of decision making we touched on during our discussion related to one another? 11. And finally, have you read any books, heard any radio broadcasts, or seen any television shows or movies where making a decision was a key element of the narrative? If so, what were those stories about? 9


TrinityTutors Virtual Academy English Task Sheet: Making Connections Student: _____________________________________________ Section: _____ Date: ____ /____ /____ DIRECTIONS: Carefully read the items below, all of which are related in some way to making decisions. Then respond to each of the prompts as indicated. A principle is a moral rule or an established guideline by which a person lives and that one cannot break unless he or she goes against the type of person that individual believes himself or herself to be. Do you have any important principles you live by? If so, please write one of them on the line below. _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ A preference is a decision or choice based on likes, dislikes or desires. For example, people who live according to their preferences may lie if it will get them what they want. They operate on the basis of circumstances, feelings and desires; so their actions depend on the current or immediate situation. They may do things when they think no one is looking that they would not do if someone else were around, justifying their behavior by saying, “No one will know.” Do you think it’s better to live one’s life guided mainly by preferences or mainly by principles? Why do you feel that way? _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________

Decisions that may at first seem insignificant can turn out to have tremendous consequences. Have you ever made a decision that you thought wasn’t very important but then turned out to have a major impact on your life or that of someone else? If so, what was it? (If you can’t think of anything, has anyone you know ever made a decision that had a major impact on you, good or bad, but that they had no idea affected you the way it did? Please explain.) _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________

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English Task Sheet: Making Connections A conviction is a principle to which a person is committed and is determined to follow. If someone is willing to agree to something they know is wrong in order to please others, that individual has no conviction. Look around and you and you will see plenty of people who have no conviction. It may be for any number of reasons, including fear of rejection, greed, a desire for power, etc. Are any of your principles strong enough to be considered a conviction? If so, is it the principle you already wrote about or another? Please explain. _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________

Everyone has a worldview which, according to the dictionary, is a comprehensive idea or image of the universe and our relation to it; a personal philosophy of human life and the universe. From where do you get your worldview? (See the next question.) Is it from your family, religious leaders, television and movies, science, popular culture, or somewhere else? _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________

It is said there are four questions any worldview must answer and that those answers must be harmony. The questions are: (1) Where did humans come from? (2) What gives my life meaning? (3) How do you distinguish between right and wrong? (4) What happens to people after they die? Some people therefore base their most important decisions on their worldview, but ultimately, what is your basis for making decisions? Is it your principles, your convictions, your preferences, your worldview, or something else? Please explain in detail. _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________

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TrinityTutors Virtual Academy Instructor’s Guide Sheet

The Pre-reading Strategies ANTICIPATING WHAT IS TO COME For many individuals, the natural thing to do when faced with a reading assignment is to plunge right into the text, but because our desire is to make rich experiences out of what might otherwise be little more than perfunctory tasks mandated by your teacher, we ask you to carry out six pre-reading strategies before you begin reading the piece, the first of which is to brose. BROWSING To browse a selection means to look over the pages quickly. Good readers browse a selection before they begin in-depth reading to help them get a general idea as to what its content might be. By browsing a selection you can get a feel for what to expect—some prior idea of what the author may be about to say which, in turn, helps you be prepare for and, consequently, better comprehend the text you actually encounter. The six pre-reading strategies we teach get you into, through and beyond the text. INTO To get into the text you will use browsing itself along with the process of making connections, which was already discussed in the previous section. (Again, browsing is briefly skimming the selection to get an overall idea about the material with which you are preparing to interact, and making connections is finding elements in a story or selection that are in some way connected to aspects of your own life—especially those related to the theme or central message an author is trying to communicate through his or her work.) BEYOND To go beyond the text, note those things you encounter about which you are naturally curious, which is an activity we call "wondering." Wondering can quite naturally lead to the last of the pre-reading strategies, which is to “establish a purpose for reading.” It makes perfectly good sense to read a selection to find the answers to those things about which you wondered. 12


TrinityTutors Virtual Academy Instructor’s Guide Sheet

Comprehension Strategies Studies have demonstrated that applying certain strategies will engage you in a process of developing your analytical skills along with your ability to express yourself clearly. Accordingly, I will be teaching and modeling the application of these strategies in an effort to help you learn to apply them on your own. They will be added to your knowledge base one or two at a time as you learn to employ them appropriately when reading narrative, expository and creative text. I will initially model the strategies as I teach them to you, helping you to practice them during reading and writing activities designed to illustrate how the strategies are intended to maximize your comprehension. I will then have you apply them on your own. You will continue to practice using them until you are proficient at applying them independently. By the end of the year you will not only be thoroughly familiar with each, but will also be able to apply them effortlessly. These strategies are: wonder, interpret, make connections, predict, summarize, monitor and adjust reading speed, monitor and clarify, ask questions and reread.

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TrinityTutors Virtual Academy Instructor’s Guide Sheet

Comprehension Skills Research also shows that using comprehension skills, also known as “structural features of text,” helps you develop a more complete picture of the things you read and lead you into a deeper understanding of the text. Comprehension skills are a way of "reading between the lines." The goal of mastering comprehension skills is to make you aware of the logic behind the structure of the written piece. If you can recognize the way the writing is organized, you will be more able to understand the author’s logic and gain knowledge of not only the facts, but also of the intent of the selection. By keeping the organization of the peace in mind and considering the author’s purpose for writing, you can go beyond the actual words on the page and make inferences or draw conclusions based on what you read. Strong, mature readers utilized these "between the lines" skills to get a full picture of not only what the writer is obviously saying, but what his or her subtle messages are too. You will have been introduced to all ten of the comprehension skills by the end of the third month of school. Each week I will choose two or three out of the ten skills and focus on their application until you are proficient with using all ten of them independently. The comprehension skills include: author's point of view, sequence (chronological order), compare and contrast, cause-and-effect, main idea and supporting details, author's purpose, fact and opinion, drawing conclusions, and making inferences.

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TrinityTutors Virtual Academy Reading Comprehension Program  

This is the initial draft of an instructional resource TrinityTutors Virtual Academy will be publishing for parent-educators interested in t...

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