How many times have we heard the term, “close reading” and wondered what exactly that means for children who are not yet reading independently? For one thing it is a requirement of the common core and as Martha Stewart would say, “….it is a good thing!”
Text comprehension begins with listening and monitoring our comprehension of the massive amount of words and ideas that flood our brains throughout the day. Our filtering systems require us to STOP the flow when we don’t understand something that is being said or read to us that is how we build prior knowledge. Learning to differentiate when we are understanding, vs when we are not, is the foundation to building a vocabulary that leads to reading comprehension.
Young learners become self-regulated when they are taught to closely monitor their comprehension during (teacher) read alouds. Raising the awareness of both teacher and learner that we all process information differently and that each individual learner should be given the opportunity to alert the teacher when confused about a read aloud text can fulfill two requirements of the common core state standards —(CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.3Ask and answer questions in order to seek help, get information, or clarify something that is not understood.)
- Close reading (during read alouds) can motivate children to recognize when they need help. Directing children to ask for help in specific situations, with appropriate motives and questioning strategies, helps them distinguish between adaptive and excessive help seeking.
- Young students can be trained to ask for help strategically. For example, by asking the teacher to revisit a misunderstood phrase or posing a specific question when trying to figure out the author’s intended meaning.
We cannot begin the process too soon – we are accustomed to checking for understanding by having the teacher pose the questions, but not the other way around. If we are to train self-regulated young learners to be college ready, the earlier we teach them how and when to phrase and pose the questions, the sooner they will be able to access information from text.