Facilitating Reading Comprehension
Practice Sheet for the Educator
Aim: This practical sheet provides teachers and facilitators with ideas to facilitate the written comprehension of audiences whose writing skills range under the A1.1, A1.1 and A1 levels in writing skills. It addresses two aspects :
- Ways to facilitate the comprehension of the ebook
- Ways to create/adapt adapted supports and materials
Keywords levels A1.1, A1.1 and A1, illiteracy, illiterate, non-reader-writer, little reader-writer, reading VS writing, global recognition, deciphering
Prior Knowledge: You must have read the ‘Target Audiences and Reading Levels’ worksheet and understand the following:
- The ebooks and associated pedagogical dossiers of the Bibliodos project primarly aim at making reading a pleasure and developing the reading skills, not the writing skills. The target audiences are also non-scriptors or little scriptors. Consequently, the pedagogical tracks rely as little as possible on writing skills.
- Global recognition is to be distinguished from deciphering. With global recognition, one recognizes a word without deciphering it. This is how non-reader seem to be reading when they are not.
- Deciphering is to be distinguished from reading. A person who deciphers a word does not access the meaning. It is a step in learning to read.
- Guiding one’s first steps with writing involves showing that even without knowing how to read, one can understand a lot. It means :
- Identifying, discussing and relying on each person’s strategies to find its way among writing content, as well as favouring the development of such strategies
- Using non-written material and approaches: images and other visuals, colors, sound, the body, drawing, oral, imagination, reflection, memory…
Facilitation of reading comprehension is an important issue because the inability or the difficulty to read, to understand what one reads can often lead to anxiety and doubts about one’s skills. Facilitating reading comprehension means reassuring people about the written text and about their ability to implement strategies to understand it.
Within the framework of the Bibliodos project, this means giving people who are far from mastering the written word the opportunity to read for pleasure while developing their reading skills. However, these pedagogical tracks will be useful for all types of writing content. They offer teachers and educators customizable support strategies declinable that, when put at work regurlarly, can become the learners own reading strategies.
Ideas to facilitate the understanding of the ebook
In an ebook, the images and audio are as important as the text. This is why this format is particularly relevant for audiences who are far from mastering the written word. The following recommendations, based on these findings, will guide teachers and educators in designing activities that facilitate access to meaning.
- Encourage and guide the reading of ebook images. Considering oral skills, teachers and educators should bring learners to observe, describe, compare, analyse the images and base hypotheses on this work.
- Even if several readings are planned, do not give the whole ebook to read at once. It is important that the students read the book progressively, with activities to check their understanding and to reflect on the text
- Go from the simplest to the most complex. Allowing the learners to get acquainted with the book’s universe, then guiding them into the ebook with key elements for global comprehension (main characters, great themes, locations, times). End with an exchange on details, references, message or moral.
- Rely on the different layers of meaning: start with the images and move towards the audio or the text (depending on the needs) Help learners identify the links between the images and the text.
- Divide the reading according to striking or major elements of the ebook, should they be in the layout (chapters/parts, visuals styles) or in the story (atmosphere, characters, places, recurrences, oppositions…).
- Provide reading instructions and help identify relevant elements.
- Take all answers into account: listen to them and allow for discussion before giving the correct answer.
- Suggest various forms of activity: in sub-groups, individually, in large groups.
- Use the participants’ understanding of the world and their own experiences to stimulate reflection and guide understanding.
- Offer regular activities to reflect and exchange on what is understood.
- Take breaks in the comprehension activities to encourage exploration (imagining the continuation of the story, picturing the landscape, the characters feelings, etc.). In this way, the process generally at work in reading becomes apparent.
- Offer multi-sensory activities to increase the possibilities of accessing meaning, reassure and make room for all readers.
- Suggest alternative ways of discovering and/or exploring the work. Use related resources such as films, music, posters, etc.
- Go beyond the mere understanding of the story with activities on lexical fields, rhythm, musicality, iconography…
- Highlight the variety of reading experiences by taking time for discussions and proposing a finale creative activity based on the ebook.
Ways of creating/adapting suitable materials
The learner sheet should not be too long. There is no need for all activities to end with an individual written work. Alternatives are : photos, collages, drawings, recordings, etc.
In addition, all the material given for an activity (word labels, captions, diagrams, drawings, etc.) must suit the needs of each group. The following recommendations will help teachers and facilitators to create materials adapted to audiences who are far from mastering the written word
- Choose or create good quality materials.
- When possible, use off-white or pastel-coloured paper.
- Choose an inclusive font (Arial/ Century Gothic/ OpenDys) and set a size between 12 and 14. Titles and labels for sub-group and large group work can be larger.
- Create well spaced-out materials: do not put in too much information (words, images, colours, numbers, etc.), nor too much extraneous information (footnotes, organisation’s logo, educator’s name, group number, etc.).
- Leave space for activities.
- Use pictograms and images to give or illustrate instructions.
- Use as much as possible colours to separate information, respecting a clear colour code for everyone.
- Mark the separation between exercises/activities.
- Give clear examples for each activity. Show how to do it when it is a manipulative/creative activity with material (labels, pictures, sheets of paper and markers, etc.).
- Do not multiply complex tools. Guide the use of double entry tables, plans, diagrams such as family trees.
- Suggest activities involving the manipulation of images, word labels to order and facilitate access to meaning. Do not ask for notes to be taken.
- Choose an ebook from the Bibliodos collection without using the pedagogical dossier. Read level 3 to find out the story. Then ask yourself what aspect, what “door” to let the participants in to capture their attention, arouse their curiosity and allow them to exchange.
- Choose an ebook from the Bibliodos collection. Read it and its educational file. Create a handout for the participants with two activities from the pedagogical dossier.
At the end of this worksheet, teachers and educators should be more comfortable accompanying people who are far from mastering the written word in understanding an ebook. They should :
- better understand the pedagogical tracks of the pedagogical dossiers but also feel more confident to imagine other activities.
- adapt more easily to a non-readers audience activities designed for a reading audience.