Preparing to Read:
The readers’ background knowledge of the subject matter perhaps can be a significant factor in the determination. A readers’ idea of a subject may influence his understanding of it— thus it explains that how familiar the text, the easier readers can infer. However, with texts that readers have no background about, building mental connection might be a tedious task. Consequently, strategies are devised to address the problem with a primary purpose to prepare students to read. These strategies are aimed to make students be aware of their background knowledge and use them in their reading— as to make the necessary interpretive connection between what they have known and what they actually know at the moment. Building prior knowledge on the other hand have the following strategies being singled out: the list-group-label strategy (students listing all the words they can think about that are associated with the topic); graphic organizers (diagramming their labeled groups of ideas); reading and listening (have the text read aloud in class); and writing (written expression of language). Furthermore, these strategies can activate prior knowledge, particularly through the use of pre-reading strategies like the use of anticipation guides (a series of statements that are relevant to both to what students already know and to the materials they are about to study); web quest problem-solving activity (internet based problem activity); and K-W-L (students identifying what they know about the topic, deciding what they want to find out, and discussing what they have learned). These strategies will lead to the preview of students’ understanding of the texts and can guide them in their motivation and confidence in preparing themselves in the reading process. Consequently, this would make reading successfully for the active readers who are possessed with motivation.
Reading to Learn:
Texts that are read consist of meanings from the author’s message. It is the task therefore of those, particularly students, to do the comprehension (the act or action of grasping with the intellect [2007-2008]) which is being influenced by interrelated factors like: the text itself, reader’s prior knowledge, the strategies a reader can use, and the goals and interest of the reader (Alexander & Jetton, 2000 as cited in Alvermann and Phelps, 2005). Instructional support of teachers can make students learn reading best using varied strategies. Teachers can help students learn comprehension specifically through the following: teaching students to be strategic, making text comprehensible, and emphasizing the role of fluency. Moreover, another strategy would be questions and questioning, which points out effective ways to carry it out— when to ask: the right time and the right place; what to ask: the relation between questions and answers; and how to ask: questioning strategies. Furthermore, common text structures are parts of reading to learn. Their importance lies within the type of text that ties ideas together. These structures are simple listing, sequence or time order, compare and contrast, cause and effect, and problem-solution. Evidences show that text structures affect the reading comprehension according to Goldman & Rakestraw (2000) as cited by Alvermann and Phelps (2005). Consequently, students can use the structures to infer into the author’s insights and messages, embedded in the texts. In addition, teachers can illustrate the use of structure in inference through modeling with think alongs, graphic representations, and guides to organization patterns. As students see their teachers model these varied strategies, they would surely be lead to understanding and appreciating the value and purpose why they must read to learn. Reading to learn then means reading to learn for meaning.
Increasing Vocabulary and Conceptual Growth:
Learning words and concepts are essentials to literacy. Yet, literacy demands that students learn vocabulary. Through what ways? These are through word-learning tasks, level of word knowledge, and readers’ resources for learning new words. Thus, teachers have roles to play in the introduction of words to students. Vocabularies are taught through being aware of selecting vocabulary criteria, which emphasize the following: relation to key concepts, relative importance, students’ ability and background, and potential for enhancing independent. Teachers must be aware of the aforementioned, and must introduce these strategies through in-class presentation, semantic mapping, definition map, semantic feature analysis, possible sentences, visual associations and selling words. Through teachers’ effort to increase vocabulary comes the development of students’ independence by using context clues, using familiar word parts, using dictionaries, vocabulary self-collection, and intensive approaches for struggling readers and English language learners. If teachers feel that there is a need to do more, they must reinforce vocabulary growth through varied activities like puzzles and games, categorizing activities, and analogies. Certainly, students would be benefited in the reading learning experience, as the discovery and finding of words and their meanings imply a significant gain in students’ knowledge.
By Cromwell Artiaga, Ed. D.
Alvermann, D.E. & Phelps, S.F. (2005). Content Reading and Literacy: Succeeding in Today’s Diverse Classrooms, 4th Ed. Boston: Pearson Education Inc.
Merriam-Webster Inc.(2007-2008). Definition of Comprehension. Retrieved April 14, 2008, from Merriam-Webster Online Website: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/comprehension