Amy Renee Ambrose, M. Ed

My purpose:
Welcome! I am the Literacy Coach at Cryar Intermediate. My job is to support student achievement by helping students become proficient in reading and writing. I can accomplish this goal by working with teachers and helping them incorporate successful strategies that will make a difference in our students.

A book is a dream you hold in your hand.
                           Neil Gaiman

Helpful Reading Websites

Comprehension Strategies
1. Monitoring comprehension
Students who are good at monitoring their comprehension know when they understand what they read and when they do not. They have strategies to "fix" problems in their understanding as the problems arise. Research shows that instruction, even in the early grades, can help students become better at monitoring their comprehension.
Comprehension monitoring instruction teaches students to:
  • Be aware of what they do understand
  • Identify what they do not understand
  • Use appropriate strategies to resolve problems in comprehension
2. Metacognition
Metacognition can be defined as "thinking about thinking." Good readers use metacognitive strategies to think about and have control over their reading. Before reading, they might clarify their purpose for reading and preview the text. During reading, they might monitor their understanding, adjusting their reading speed to fit the difficulty of the text and "fixing" any comprehension problems they have. After reading, they check their understanding of what they read.
Students may use several comprehension monitoring strategies:
  • Identify where the difficulty occurs
"I don't understand the second paragraph on page 76."
  • Identify what the difficulty is
"I don't get what the author means when she says, 'Arriving in America was a milestone in my grandmother's life.'"
  • Restate the difficult sentence or passage in their own words
"Oh, so the author means that coming to America was a very important event in her grandmother's life."
  • Look back through the text
"The author talked about Mr. McBride in Chapter 2, but I don't remember much about him. Maybe if I reread that chapter, I can figure out why he's acting this way now."
  • Look forward in the text for information that might help them to resolve the difficulty
"The text says, 'The groundwater may form a stream or pond or create a wetland. People can also bring groundwater to the surface.' Hmm, I don't understand how people can do that… Oh, the next section is called 'Wells.' I'll read this section to see if it tells how they do it."

3. Graphic and semantic organizers
Graphic organizers illustrate concepts and relationships between concepts in a text or using diagrams. Graphic organizers are known by different names, such as maps, webs, graphs, charts, frames, or clusters.
Regardless of the label, graphic organizers can help readers focus on concepts and how they are related to other concepts. Graphic organizers help students read and understand textbooks and picture books.
Graphic organizers can:
  • Help students focus on text structure "differences between fiction and nonfiction" as they read
  • Provide students with tools they can use to examine and show relationships in a text
  • Help students write well-organized summaries of a text
Here are some examples of graphic organizers:

Used to compare or contrast information from two sources. For example, comparing two fiction books.
Story Chains
Used to order or sequence events within a text. For example, listing the steps for brushing your teeth.
Used to chart the story structure. These can be organized into fiction and nonfiction text structures. For example, defining characters, setting, events, problem, resolution in a fiction story; however in a nonfiction story, main idea and details would be identified.
Used to illustrate the cause and effects told within a text. For example, staying in the sun too long may lead to a painful sunburn.

4. Answering questions
Questions can be effective because they:
  • Give students a purpose for reading
  • Focus students' attention on what they are to learn
  • Help students to think actively as they read
  • Encourage students to monitor their comprehension
  • Help students to review content and relate what they have learned to what they already know
The Question-Answer Relationship strategy (QAR) encourages students to learn how to answer questions better. Students are asked to indicate whether the information they used to answer questions about the text was textually explicit information (information that was directly stated in the text), textually implicit information (information that was implied in the text), or information entirely from the student's own background knowledge.

There are four different types of questions:
  • "Right There"
Questions found right in the text that ask students to find the one right answer located in one place as a word or a sentence in the passage.
Example: Who is Frog's friend? Answer: Toad
  • "Think and Search"
Questions based on the recall of facts that can be found directly in the text. Answers are typically found in more than one place, thus requiring students to "think" and "search" through the passage to find the answer.
Example: Why was Frog sad? Answer: His friend was leaving.
  • "Author and You"
Questions require students to use what they already know, with what they have learned from reading the text. Student's must understand the text and relate it to their prior knowledge before answering the question.
Example: How do think Frog felt when he found Toad? Answer: I think that Frog felt happy because he had not seen Toad in a long time. I feel happy when I get to see my friend who lives far away.
  • "On Your Own"
Questions are answered based on a student’s prior knowledge and experiences. Reading the text may not be helpful to them when answering this type of question.
Example: How would you feel if your best friend moved away? Answer: I would feel very sad if my best friend moved away because I would miss her.
5. Generating questions
By generating questions, students become aware of whether they can answer the questions and if they understand what they are reading. Students learn to ask themselves questions that require them to combine information from different segments of text. For example, students can be taught to ask main idea questions that relate to important information in a text.
6. Recognizing story structure
In story structure instruction, students learn to identify the categories of content (characters, setting, events, problem, resolution). Often, students learn to recognize story structure through the use of story maps. Instruction in story structure improves students' comprehension.
7. Summarizing
Summarizing requires students to determine what is important in what they are reading and to put it into their own words. Instruction in summarizing helps students:
  • Identify or generate main ideas
  • Connect the main or central ideas
  • Eliminate unnecessary information
  • Remember what they read
Fluency Strategies
Model Fluent Reading
Sometimes when children begin to read independently, we stop reading to them and focus on them reading to us. While that can be a great tool in improving reading skills, it doesn't give children the opportunity to hear fluent reading as often. Scholastic suggests reading aloud to struggling readers often and with great expression. After reading, discuss what fluent reading sounds like and what helps you read so well. Books with a strong rhythm are helpful when describing how to read phrases with expression and fluency.

Echo Reading
Echo reading is when new or struggling readers read a line or paragraph right after an experienced reader does. With echo reading, struggling readers can focus more on expression because they won't have to worry about decoding new words. Echo reading can also help children recognize familiar words more quickly. Parents can use echo reading with high interest books that might otherwise be difficult for their struggling reader to read independently.

Recorded Reading
Another strategy that parents of struggling readers can use at home is recorded reading. Children can follow along in their text while listening to a fluent reader read the text. Audiobooks are one way parents can use this strategy at home, but parents can also record themselves reading the text, either on a smart phone or computer, and then let children practice with that.

Vocabulary Flash Cards
Sight words are words that readers should recognize by sight; they either can't be sounded out, like the word "the," or they are so common that readers shouldn't need to sound them out each time, like the word "like." Some struggling readers have difficulty with sight words, so one option is for parents to make flash cards using index cards, markers and a sight word list from the child's school. Kids can take a few minutes to say, spell and write each word every day. If the child know his sight words but has trouble remembering words from a particular text or subject, you can help him make flash cards for those words.

Rehearsed Reading
In classroom situations, teachers often have students perform Reader's Theater. In Reader's Theater, children have copies of the text in their hands while they perform a short play or story for their classmates. The key is that the children rehearse their text and practice reading it fluently before going in front of the class. Gathering twenty neighborhood kids in your living room probably isn't practical, but you can still use a similar strategy at home. Have your child choose someone to read to, such as a younger sibling, a cousin or even your dog. Then help him practice reading a text fluently so that he can read it confidently to his chosen reading buddy. Again, texts with a strong rhythm can help a struggling reader hear where the spoken emphasis should be, which can help him learn to breathe in the right places and use the correct phrasing as he practices.

Last Modified: Sep 12, 2014

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