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September, 2010

Dear Literacy Place for the Early Years Teacher,

Welcome back to a new school year! For those who recently signed up for the Tip of the Month, we hope the tips will assist with an easy and efficient implementation of LPEY in your classroom. In this monthly communication, we will highlight specific sections of LPEY, share answers to pertinent questions, and outline time-saving techniques, tools, and strategies available to you.

This month's question hails from a recent in-service session on planning for instruction: Is there an order to teaching the comprehension strategies? Which one should I begin with?

Although you can teach the comprehension strategies in any order based on your students' needs, LPEY provides a possible sequence for initiating strategy instruction (see Instructional Flowchart in their respective Teaching Support sections: Kindergarten, Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3). This sequence introduces the strategies in order of increasing complexity-from concrete to more abstract ways of accessing information. Analyzing and sequencing which rely on more factual processes are taught early in the year, whereas strategies such as inferring, evaluating, and synthesizing, which rely on integration of thinking processes and require more reader reflection, are addressed later in the year.

It is suggested that you begin your year by teaching the self-monitoring comprehension strategy. Since self-monitoring helps readers regulate comprehension and promotes the effective use of the other reading strategies, it makes sense to begin the year with this strategy. The process of monitoring helps readers ask questions as they read, generate fix-up strategies if necessary, and decide which strategy to use for particular segments of text.

Although self-monitoring is taught in Kindergarten through Grade 3, the focus is somewhat different at each grade level so that students are learning new pieces about the strategy each year (see June 3, 2010 Tip of the Month for Grade Level Comprehension Focus sheet outlining all strategies).

Kindergarten Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3
  • notices when familiar texts do not make sense
  • begins to ask questions when listening/reading
  • notices when a text does not make sense and, with support, fixes it
  • asks oral questions to check on text meaning and begins to engage in self-questioning
  • uses self-questioning strategies to check on text meaning
  • changes strategy use
  • uses self-questioning strategies to check on text meaning
  • changes strategy use

As you introduce self-monitoring, you may want to create anchor charts to provide students with a reference of various "fix-up" methods. The following suggestions might prove helpful for your young readers:

Fix-It Chart — Word Meanings
  1. Check the picture and think about what would make sense and sound right.
  2. Read the sentences around the word. Do they give you any clues?
  3. Does the author provide a definition nearby?
  4. Look at the word. Is it like another word you know?
  5. Use a glossary or dictionary to look up the word.

Fix-It Chart — Text Comprehension
  1. Slow down.
  2. Reread the page or part before the problem.
  3. Read on and see if that helps.
  4. Retell what has happened so far.
  5. Try to make a picture in your head.
  6. Ask yourself a question about the confusing part.
  7. Look at the pictures, charts, and maps. Do they help?
  8. Think carefully about what puzzled you.
  9. Read the part aloud to yourself.
  10. Ask a friend or your teacher for help.

Happy teaching,
Sue Jackson signature
Sue Jackson
National Literacy Consultant
Scholastic Education Canada