The deconstruction and reconstruction of text requires the students to have a deep knowledge of how and why texts have been written. The connection of ideas within a text requires the reader to utilise skills and strategies whilst reading or viewing the text.
The use of the effective comprehension strategies supports the development of skills and strategies in readers enabling them to access ideas and concepts embedded within diverse texts. Locating and connecting ideas requires the reader to consider what the text may contain (predicting and connecting to text), extracting information and ideas (questioning, visualising and summarising the text) and finally reconnecting ideas demonstrating a deeper understanding of the text (monitoring). The monitoring of a text involves the readers’ ability to check their understanding at word (vocabulary), sentence, paragraph and text level considering the author’s language choices, the visuals used and the overall message and purpose of the text.
Monitoring the understanding of a text occurs before, during and after reading.
- The reader needs to preview the text, considering the type of text and the general purpose and content they would expect to find, ensuring the predictions can be justified and explained.
- Monitoring during reading requires the reader to consistently check their understanding of the text and review and adjust their predictions. If there is new, unknown material, including unfamiliar vocabulary, the reader may continue to read using contextual clues slowing down the reading rate and checking their understanding of the text is not compromised. The reader may also note down words or items from the text that require clarification to ensure comprehension of the reading material.
- After the reading students need to review the ideas and concepts within the text and reconnect to the information or ideas that build on the predictions and clarifications made before and during the reading. Reflecting on the text and its key message then enables the student to work with the text. This work includes answering questions that involve locating and connecting ideas and participating in discussions related to the text.
Activity 1: monitoring
Discuss with the students the importance of monitoring their understanding of text. Pose the question – What does a good reader do? Students should be paired or grouped to discuss their responses to the posed question. Have pairs or groups report back and create a class chart that reflects effective reading behaviours, including the headings ‘before reading’, ‘during reading’ and ‘after reading’. Ensuring that students consider prediction, prior to reading the text, is an effective tool.
During reading responses should include Fix-up strategies (PDF 275KB) that are used to assist understanding at the word and text level (add any additional key strategy that may have been omitted to student responses and discuss).
After reading responses should include reflecting on the new information the reader has gained from the text and any questions the reader may have related to the text. This can include seeking more information and personal interest that the text has raised. The ability to discuss the text in a succinct way (oral summary) is also an effective monitoring strategy that demonstrates the level of understanding.
The following Monitoring flowchart and scaffold can be used and adapted to suit the learning needs of the students. The students can be paired or grouped when undertaking the activities. Each student should have an opportunity to discuss the text and any difficulties they may have in understanding. This can also be used to confirm their understanding of the text and gives the students an opportunity to ‘test’ their understanding (thinking out loud).
Activity 2: reciprocal teaching
Reciprocal teaching is a very effective method of developing comprehension strategies that assist students in understanding a text and being able to work with the text. Reciprocal teaching involves prediction (making connections), deconstruction (taking the text apart), questioning, clarifying understanding and summing up the text (reconstructing) in a supportive group situation. This gives students the opportunity to ‘think aloud’ and discuss their understanding of the text. It enhances students’ ability to locate and connect ideas in text and justify (find textual evidence) to support their views.
Activity 3: reflection on word chains
Have students circle key words with different meanings in a text in different colours and then use the same colour to identify words with a similar meaning. Students draw lines using the same colour to track the word chain through the text. This can help them to see connections. Students could then create a mind map of key words surrounded by similar words and draw lines of connection between them to show relationships between ideas by writing how they relate on the lines.
Australian curriculum – ACELY1702: Texts in context: Navigate and read texts for specific purposes applying appropriate text processing strategies, for example predicting and confirming, monitoring meaning, skimming and scanning.
NSW syllabus – EN3-3A: navigate and read texts for specific purposes, applying appropriate text processing strategies, for example predicting and confirming, monitoring meaning, skimming and scanning.
NSW literacy continuum – Reading texts, Cluster 11, Marker 3: Monitors reading for accuracy and meaning and adjusts reading when difficulties are encountered, e.g. adjusts speed, rereads and attends to most important information.