1. In “Explicit Reading Comprehension Instruction in Elementary Classrooms: Teacher Use of Reading Comprehension Strategies” Ness gives a straightforward definition of “reading comprehension”. For the intent of this particular article the “RAND Group’s definition” was used, which says that reading comprehension is “the process of simultaneously extracting and constructing meaning through interaction and involvement with written language”. The article also states that “comprehension involves recalling information from text, extracting themes, engaging in higher order thinking skills, constructing a mental picture and understanding text structure” (Ness, 98). These details explaining reading comprehension all justify the RAND Group definition.
2. Scaffolding- an instructional technique used to move students progressively towards stronger understandings of material by breaking materials students find complex into more manageable pieces to understand. Ness states that “teachers rely upon instructional scaffolds to provide assistance in students’ learning and understanding” (Ness, 102). This process leads to greater independence in the learning process.
3. Guided Practice- when breaking a complex idea down into smaller parts the guided practice step is one of the most crucial. After the teacher has modeled the skill the students are trying to master, the students try the skill. While attempting the new skill the teacher is there to support the students and correct any misunderstandings the students may have early on. Guided practice is used to “facilitate students’ independent use of reading comprehension strategies” (Ness, 102).
This is crucial because addressing misunderstandings right away stops students from practicing the new skill incorrectly for a long period of time then trying to fix the error down the road. When addressing the importance of guided practices the author refers to Vygotsky. According to Vygotsky “optimal learning occurs when teachers assist students in building and understanding new knowledge. As teachers provide students with strategy instruction through support and modeling, learning occurs within the students’ zone of proximal development” (Ness, 102).
II. The evidence Ness uses in this article is mostly an observational study. The study took place in the 2008-2009 school year, in “two elementary schools in northeastern states” (Ness, 102). Both schools contained grades kindergarten through fifth grade. Ness also refers to prior research done by Durkin. She uses the prior research to compare to her observational study to conclude whether or not methods have developed over the years that have passed. The article includes tables and charts giving information about the two schools where the observation took place and the findings from the research. Also included is the coding system used by the researchers while they observed the classrooms, and the breakdown of what the coding system means.
III. In the beginning sections of the article Ness addresses the concern for the lack of reading comprehension instruction taking place in elementary classrooms. Ness refers to Durkin’s research done on the same topic in the late 1770’s to address what has changed in this area. According to Ness “the current study is significant, because it seeks to understand whether the findings of Durkin…still rings true” (Ness, 101). Also early in the article she explains why explicit reading comprehension strategies are essential to student’s success. Ness addresses a lot of material before acknowledging the current research. This does not take away from the scope of the article