Week 11

Comprehension of a text means an individual is able to compartmentalize the literature they are assigned into their own words. Many literacy educators provide students with foundational skills in order for students to break down their readings towards individual understanding. ELA educators teach students to first identify the main idea of a text. Followed by associating other literacy strategies such as identifying story structure, generating questions, and determining when to eliminate unnecessary information by summarizing. Through the implementation of these skills students eventually can monitor their own instruction of reading comprehension and express their understanding through writing or articulation.

In my classroom I have students generate a summary of each article by first annotating the text with a highlighter to identify key concepts and phrases. In addition, using our school wide system of writing within all classrooms they write a MEAL paragraph (Main idea, Evidence, Analysis and Last Thoughts). Part of foundation skills to understanding a text, students have to illustrate in my classroom their analysis and thoughts by providing evidence, especially in a science classroom. If my students are able to properly create a MEAL paragraph, articulating a main idea with reasonable evidence and a good analysis, all through their own words, then to me they have comprehended their text.

In regards to an individual’s identity and history, both enable a huge role in one’s comprehension. Many students of color specifically African-American students in my school statistically scored well below grade level on our science state exams and MOSLS. Only 20% of our African American student population has passed by meeting or excelling at grade level. Unfortunately socio-economic issues affect many of our students and this demonstrates their excessive absence throughout the year compared to other student populations.

In the article Reading Between the Lines and Beyond the Pages by Gloria Landson Billings, she discusses “the education gap between students of color…how African-American students are affected by socio-economic issues.” (313) This defines the social relevance. In order to promote academic success it is important to establish an effective teacher/student relationship to maximize learning.

In my classroom developing a safe environment to establish an effective relationship between students has become easier after my first year of teaching however I still have some power struggles between my African-American students. For example one of my students has been excessively late/absent throughout the year. When pulled to the side to discuss their academic success and scores throughout the year, they became defensive using their distance from school as an excuse for their tardiness. However, I am reasonable and always take that into consideration but when I mentioned that if they were able to make it to our school’s basketball team practice twice a week at 7am, then it is unacceptable to be late to my class let alone absent. We ended up talking it out and instead of lecturing the student, I asked what I could do to help or assist them. This fostered a friendly relationship where they eventually improved their academic success slightly, but it was a start.

Many educators nowadays try to connect to their student population by using teaching practices that allow the information from a text to be relevant to an individual’s subjectivity in order to increase comprehension levels of their students. We have read many articles pertaining to research suggesting how well students perform when learning material that is relevant to their own lives and experiences. In Ladson-Billings article she clearly says, “teachers share power with the students because they understand that education is an empowering force” (318). When teachers structure their lessons by implementing simple strategies like student choice, students are more inclined to display interest, therefore enabling an individual’s comprehension as opposed to inhibiting it.

Every project I do with my students to measure their understanding of a unit uses student choice. When a student is frequently late or absent most of the time they struggle to catch up with content being taught and close off during the lessons when they are in attendance. That student I mentioned before also gave me a hard time during the time science fair came around. Now in order for the student to pass, it was mandatory they complete a science fair project. After some discussions between the two of us, I agreed to accept his proposal of conducting an experiment that was basketball related. Part of the agreement between the two of us was I provide him with the articles for research that way it was grade level appropriate. Although “How does different type of sneakers affect your free throw accuracy” is not rigorous, having him complete a project all on his own, still following the same rubric and identifying all the components to the scientific method was effective for me to understand my student made progress and exhibited comprehension of his texts. 

    • Colleen Vogle
      Colleen Vogle

      Hi Giuseppe,

      Thank you for your post this week, It was a refreshing read and I was nodding in agreeance all through your post. I specifically like that you pointed out a very familiar truth within the standardized testing world and its relationship to our students identity and their history.

      In regards to an individual’s identity and history, both enable a huge role in one’s comprehension. Many students of color specifically African-American students in my school statistically scored well below grade level on our science state exams and MOSLS.

      At times, some educators can find themselves walking along a thin line between teaching the test rather than cultivating students to become fearless leaders of our tomorrow. Students learn best when whatever they are learning they can relate to, therefore if the questions on the MOSLS exams are not relatable and equitable low scores will be the outcome in the African-American school communities. 

      --Colleen  

      • Gerald Ardito
        Gerald Ardito

        Guiseppe,

        I agree with this:

        Comprehension of a text means an individual is able to compartmentalize the literature they are assigned into their own words.

        But I am wondering if there is also something about accuracy, meaning a direct relationship between the intended and interpreted meaning of a text. What do you think?

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