As part of our School Self-Evaluation (SSE) we decided to look at comprehension and comprehension strategies. Comprehension is the essence of reading and the function of effective comprehension instruction is to enable children to become self-regulated strategic readers. This was an area we felt we needed to teach in a more structured way in order to give all of our students the strategies they need to understand the reading material they encounter, both in and out of school. This led us to the decision to incorporate the "Building Bridges of Understanding" programme in our school.
Drawing on current research regarding effective comprehension instruction, the primary focus of the programme is the teaching of comprehension, with the ultimate aim of enabling children to become self-regulated strategic readers.
Eight key comprehension strategies are identified. These are:
Each strategy is explicitly modelled through a think aloud process using high quality fiction and non-fiction picture books. Children’s understanding of each individual strategy is supported by Comprehension Process Motions which are hand movements that help to concretise abstract unseen cognitive processes thus reinforcing the learning through a kinaesthetic pathway.
Children’s understanding is further consolidated by the development of Anchor Charts in child friendly language which are displayed in the room and help the children to remember each individual strategy. Teacher support is gradually withdrawn as children learn to apply the strategies in supportive collaborative mixed ability groups. Such groups provide support for children in word identification, vocabulary and comprehension in a mutually supportive setting.