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Comprehension: “I don’t get it!!!”

Started by Vicki , author of upliftingteaching 1/7/2012 3:03:13 PM

The cry of students of all ages throughout the decades: “Why do I have to learn this? I don’t understand it!”


Comprehension isn’t elusive. The following list will shed light on strategies for improving it.

Consider all the things that impact comprehension:

Experience: The familiar adage, “practice makes perfect” isn’t completely accurate…

 “Perfect practice makes perfect”

Reading is a procedure which improves with practice.

Skill: The more phonics is mastered, the more the brain can be feed up to focus on content.

Prior Knowledge: If a student has a lot of experience with a topic being studied, that child will have an easier time understanding the material.

Learning Style:  A student that is a global learner focuses on the big picture. That child will have an easier time comprehending the main idea or plot. Whereas, a student who is an analytical learner may get caught up in the details and miss the overall point of the story. It would help an analytical learner if you present a brief overview of the story before s/he reads it.

Attention: Some students tend to lose focus while reading. We’ve all experienced our brain wandering. Rereading is necessary. For students who experience this on a regular basis, reciprocal questioning is a great strategy. Have the student come up with questions to ask the adult. As the student reads a story, s/he thinks of questions – stopping to dictate each question to the adult. At the end of the story (or the end of a passage) the adult reads each question and provides an answer. The student tells the adult if the answer was correct of not. This improves attention and increases motivation.

Concept Development: When reading for content areas such as math or science, comprehension is impacted by vocabulary words. Those vocabulary words represent concepts which can be represented by a picture. Even silly stick pictures work. The graphic representation provides a mnemonic – a way to understand and remember the concept.

Memory: Comprehension will come quicker when memory strategies are used. Use drama: Role play a story or act out scientific concept (such as what happens to molecules when heated). Create simple and tangible models to represent something (such as using clay to demonstrate different types of columns or cotton to demonstrate different clouds). Put it to music or make a rap. Use simple household or office materials to demonstrate a concept.

What’s been challenging for your child to learn?

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Reply by Esther

author of Laugh With Us Blog 1/11/2012 9:35:10 PM

Oh my goodness I heard that so many times today...MATH!


Reply by Vicki

author of upliftingteaching 1/12/2012 8:29:33 AM

After 34 yrs. of teaching, I've accumulated lots of strategies. If you ever need something specific to help your kids with math, let me know.

Wonderful tips for helping comprehension! 

Mine are 2 and 4, so we aren't quite at the school topics stage... Working on writing skills with the oldest, which she loves doing.  My son loves puzzles right now, although he likes to pull the "you do it Mommy" sometimes...

My oldest struggles with book reports.  She is 10 and honestly loves to read.  She brings a book to the bathroom with her, she always brings books from home to read at school when she has a chance and she loves to read with her younger sister. 

But as soon as there is a book report involved, well this is a different story.  She suddenly doesn't want to read the book (and her teacher lets her pick out the books) and then when she does, her book reports are barely complete.  I don't get it!!

Have you ever heard of the mad minute for math? It is something that is a NJ state requirement and the grading of them kind of stinks.  I think it discourages them a bit.  If they answer 30 math questions in a minute and get all but 1 right, the correct answers after the wrong answer don't count.  So say they answer 30 questions and they get the 10th one wrong, then by the grading system they only got 9 right.  Doesn't matter if that one incorrect answer was the only incorrect answer.  


Reply by Vicki

author of upliftingteaching 5/6/2012 2:45:19 PM

I used to assign book reports to my second graders. All twelve years there were numerous students just like your daughter. They loved to read but hated doing the book reports. I used to try to make it a painless and even enjoyable process by encouraging creativity. I'd show my students an example of how I'd do a book report on A Cat in the Hat. Some got inspired to jump on the creativity bandwagon. Others could never embrace the project. Oh well...we try.

'Can't believe the NJ grading system of those math facts! I'd be discouraged too!!

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