What is it about?

Vygotsky posited that all higher psychological processes, like reading comprehension, are first social processes, between individuals (and cultural activity). Reading comprehension is generally thought of as something "in your head"--a private act between reader, text, and context. Yet, the origins of that dialectic between the reader, text, and context has to begin somewhere----the actual "discussion in our head". In this study, we tried, through an apprenticeship process of a skilled teacher and other students, to help students "try on" the discourse of more able comprehenders.

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Why is it important?

Students with disabilities have been characterized as being relatively passive and inactive readers. Expert readers, on the other hand, are very active readers---they are constantly asking questions, summarizing, predicting, clarifying, marking up text, and connecting the text with what they already know. When we arm students with the language using practices, including cognitive strategies, annotating strategies, discussion strategies---we can simulate and make "visible" versions of the dialogues we hope that they will use later, on an internal plane of development. Historically, there may be limitations placed on many students with disabilities about their ability to comprehend text---maybe especially informational text and with young learners. If we do not provide the more direct, explicit, and strategic instruction with our younger learners with disabilities, they may be at a disadvantage in later years as the expectation shift towards expecting that students have generally learned to decode---so should be able to comprehend. Rather, what we know is that students also need excellent comprehension instruction, in addition to direct, explicit instruction in phonics, vocabulary, and fluency.

Perspectives

This paper represents a long line and history of research in cognitive strategy instruction from a sociocultural perspective. In many ways, this study borrows and utilizes practices from all three major learning theories: behavioral theory, cognitive theory, and sociocultural theory. There is an explicit and direct instruction towards strategy mastery from a behavioral or cognitive behavioral perspective. There is the teaching of a series of cognitive strategies and text structure, emphasizing the importance of cognitive self-regulation and executive skills regulation--especially as it relates to reading the text and uncovering meaning over multiple passes through the text, what Fisher and Frey (2016) refer to as "Close Reading". Finally, instruction emphasizes the role of semiotic mediation---language, discourses, discussion, and the use of cultural tools like Post It notes and graphic organizers and symbols to interact with and annotate text. Hence, we have used the term "Dialogic Strategic Close Reading" to describe the approach to reading comprehension.

Troy Mariage
Michigan State University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Comprehension Instruction for Tier 2 Early Learners: A Scaffolded Apprenticeship for Close Reading of Informational Text, Learning Disability Quarterly, July 2019, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0731948719861106.
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