Understanding the components of written language matters a great deal for reading comprehension. These components—vocabulary, syntax, text features and structure, and cohesion and coherence—operate together to give a text meaning. When considered together, that’s a lot to focus on! That’s why explicit (or direct) instruction of skills relating to each individual component is so important.
As students gain better understanding of these components, their reading comprehension will improve. But it’s lifelong work. And even when the rules apply most of the time, there are still exceptions.
Learning to understand what we read is hard work. But it helps us a great deal in school and in life. Mastering these tools enables us to read fluently, and it also makes us more agile communicators when we write and speak.
The next unit considers another set of tools—strategies for reading with purpose. These strategies build on knowledge of the components of written language to deepen comprehension. Strategies help students use the texts they read as a major tool for learning.
The Introductory Scenario
asked you to help develop two mini-lessons for a student in Ms. Thompson’s class, one targeting vocabulary and the other targeting punctuation.
Use the questions below to reflect on the lessons you created. If you’re working on this by yourself, jot down your reflections in a journal. If you’re working on this with colleagues, discuss your lessons in small groups.
- What activities did you include in the lessons for each skill?
- What instructional materials did you select in each case?
- Why do you think the activities and materials you developed would help students learn the knowledge and skills you chose to target (that is, the vocabulary words and the skill related to punctuation)?
Marzano, R. J., Gaddy, B. B., & Dean, C. (2000). What works in classroom instruction. Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.
Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. ACSD.
Saddler, B. (2005). Sentence combining: A sentence-level writing intervention. The Reading Teacher, 58(5), 468-471.