The skill to focus on the meaning of the sentence or story. Comprehension includes the skill to make connections where we relate concepts in the story to our own lives, inference—where we draw conclusions based on what we know, make predictions like “What will happen next?” and determine importance—where the reader finds/knows the parts of the story that are important.
The Question-Answer Comprehension Strategy.
Another intervention that will aide in solving some of the problems that students face is to provide instructional activities that are relevant to reading comprehension. Questions can be a powerful teaching tool. When questions are generated in a specific format, it allows students to increase comprehension. These questions should include:
- Detail questions about specific items in each paragraph,
- Questions about following directions,
- Main idea questions,
- Inference questions,
- Sequencing questions.
These questions can be used in group discussions, or written in a study guide. Since students need to learn higher order thinking skills, inference questions can help students with dyslexia think at higher levels. Inference questions encourage students to access background knowledge, read between the lines, and make connections to the text. We’ve outlined the steps for effective inference questions:
- Look for limiting words to help you decide which group fits the answer (all, some, a few, none).
- Look for comparisons: (a) two things may be compared in the paragraph or passage; or (b) one thing in the passage may be compared to something the student already knows.
- Look for logical results for endings to a chain of events. Predict what will probably happen next.
- Look for pairs of concepts in special relationships such as cause and effect, general and specific, or time and place.
Graphic Organizers Aid Comprehension
Graphic organizers are effective comprehension aids. The purpose of graphic organizers is to help the student organize and categorize information that may feel overwhelming or go unnoticed in the process of decoding words. They can also build schema, or background knowledge (Jensen, 2007). In addition, a graphic organizer provides a visual representation of what is read or heard. Options for types of graphic organizers include, but are not limited to, cause-effect charts, concept webs, KWL charts, SQ3R charts, timelines, and Venn diagrams. Each type of graphic organizer has benefits for making different types of information visual.