Knowledge is Important for Reading Comprehension
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being able to read well. Reading is so central to my life, in my leisure time, and in how I pursue ongoing professional development and lifelong learning. It is equally crucial for our students, for them to enjoy literature, pursue further education, and access information online.
Because reading is important, knowledge is important, as knowledge improves reading comprehension. In one study, students’ comprehension of a passage on baseball was correlated, not with previous identification of them as poor or strong readers, but with their knowledge of baseball. Another study looked at how students’ background knowledge on birds affected their reading comprehension of a storybook featuring birds; the difference between students with more knowledge and the students with less disappeared when the storybook was about a made-up creatures called wugs. Simply put, it is easier to read books and articles on topics for which you already possess knowledge.
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This summer, I am taking three online courses: introduction to macroeconomics, intermediate economics, and introduction to prose forms (an English literature course). The motive for this came from the job hunt; I want to expand the courses I am qualified to teach, to broaden the choices for jobs I can apply for. To do that, I need to take qualification courses such as these from Western University or this one from Queen’s University. To do that, if you took a peek at those prerequisites, I need more undergraduate credits.
So, here I am, a student again.
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Just a week ago I finished one of the larger experiments I’ve undertaken in my courses this year: a read-a-loud, with my four classes of Grade 6 students. We were working on our unit on culture and migration; at the end of each lesson, I would read a portion of the book to them. For those unfamiliar with the book, here is a brief synopsis and the reading level on Scholastic, and reviews on Goodreads.
I had two main purposes for this. The primary one was for the story to serve as a mentor text for their project, which was to research two countries and write a story about someone who immigrates from one to the other. The other was to create a connection between what we were learning in our lessons and a piece of literature.
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