Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 463, Chapter 7: Comprehension

Comprehension Strategies

  • Calling up and connecting relevant prior knowledge
  • Predicting, questioning, and wondering about what will be learned and what will happen
  • Visualizing or imagining what the experience would look, feel, sound, taste, and smell like
  • Monitoring comprehension and using fix-up strategies such as rereading, pictures, and asking for help when you cannot make sense of what you read
  • Determining conclusions and making inferences based on what was read
  • Evaluating and making judgements about what you think: Did you like it? Did you agree? Was it funny? Could it really happen?

The goal is for your students to use them not just during the lessons, but to become automatic at thinking strategically whenever and wherever they are reading.

The different ways in which various reading materials are organized are referred to as text structures and genres. Students may have a harder time comprehending informational texts as they don’t get as much exposure to them and the way the information is organized.

A teacher can model comprehension strategies to students by using:

  1. I do, you watch (Teacher models)
  2. I do, you help (Teacher models and invited suggestions from students)
  3. You do it together, I help (Students apply strategies in small groups with teacher support as needed)
  4. You do, I watch (Students apply strategies independently, teacher observes and assesses)


A way of modeling the thinking that goes on inside your head as you read. Explain to students that we have a voice in our heads that helps make sense of what we are reading and then model what this might look like while reading a text. Try to use the comprehension strategies listed above as you do this.

Comprehending Narrative Texts

  • Story Maps: Includes main characters, the setting, the problem, events, the solution, and the story theme or moral. Students will start with figuring out who the main characters are, where the story takes place, and the problem for the main characters. They will then think of events that lead up to the solution for the problem. They can then think of the story’s theme or the moral of the story. what did the story teach us. The teacher can start by modeling this with the students and slowly move to the students working on it independently.
  • The Beach Ball: Used to help students develop the ability to understand and retell stories. Write questions on the sections of the beach ball to work on these things. Students will gently toss the ball to another student by saying their name before they throw it. The student who catches it will answer the question that is facing them. The questions can include:
    • Who are the main characters?
    • What is the setting?
    • What happened at the beginning?
    • What happened in the middle?
    • How did it end?
    • What was your favorite part?
  • Compare/Contrast Bubbles: This may also be known as a Venn diagram. The students could compare/contrast things from one story like the characters or they could compare/contrast two different stories.

Classroom Application

I love the last three activities that I listed, especially the beach ball activity. This makes the activity different and more interactive than just asking the students the questions, it should also cause them to be more engaged. I also like the think-aloud activity to model the comprehension strategies for the students. Modeling is so important so students can get a visual example of what they should be doing when they are reading.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 463, Chapter 6: Meaningful Vocabulary

When we see of hear words, our brains make all kinds of connections with those words, depending on our past experiences.

Vocabulary is critical to reading comprehension.

Activities for Vocabulary

Find real life items that students may not know. Items may be sorted into categories such as kitchen items or art supplies. The students can play 20 Questions to figure out what the item is.

Students can act out skits about new vocabulary words. The words could include adjectives to make it easier for students to act out. The words would be listed for all students to see to make it easier for non-acting students to figure out what the word is.

Teachers can emphasize vocabulary words during read-aloud times by picking out 3 words to focus on. At first, the teacher should just read the story as usual. Then tell the students about the new vocabulary words and either read the story again or just read the paragraph so the students can get context as to what the words mean.

When students are reading an article they can find the 10 most important words. By finding these words, the students will be able to understand the main idea of the article. The students can find these words by tallying how many times they occur in the article. They should be able to define these words by the end of the article as well.

Classroom Application

I would use all of the activities listed above as well as having students write down words that they don’t know while they are reading. This could be a story that the whole class is reading, an individual book the student reads during a read-to-self time, or something that the teacher is reading out loud. If the text is something everyone is reading, the teacher can have a group discussion. If it is an individual book, the teacher can have a conference with the student to discuss these words.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 463, EdTPA Handbook

Planning Task 1: Planning for Instructions and Assessment

This is where the teacher is making their lesson plans and needs to think about what the students already know and what they will be learning next. The teacher thinks of different strategies and assessments to use to support the students.
What You Need to Do

  • Select a class
  • Provide context information
  • Identify a learning segment to plan, teach, and analyze
  • Identify a central focus for the learning segment
  • Determine the content standards and objectives
  • Identify and plan to support language demands
  • Write a lesson plan and submit it
  • Select and submit key instructional materials
  • Submit copies of all written assessment and/or directions for any oral or performance assessments
  • Provide citations for the source of all materials that you did not create

Planning Commentary

You will also need to write a planning commentary responding to the prompts. Prompts include (more details in handbook)

  1. Central Focus
  2. Knowledge of Students to Inform Teaching
  3. Supporting Students’ Literacy Learning
  4. Supporting Literacy Development Through Language
  5. Monitoring Student Learning

You will be assessed using rubrics. The rubrics can help guide you with your thinking, planning, and writing.
Resource: edTPA Assessment Handbook: Elementary Literacy: Version 07. (2018) Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity.