Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tompkins Chapter 9

This chapter of Tompkins was really interesting to me, because I have never really thought about comprehension in terms of genre and text factors. I always think of comprehension as what is being portrayed and explained in the story, but there are different types of comprehension that takes place depending on the type of genre. For example, there are going to be different focal points around folklore stories, rather than realistic fiction or fantasy texts. "Students learn about the subgenres of stories and read stories representing each one, examine the structural patterns that authors use to organize stories, and point out the narrative devices that authors use to breathe life into their stories" (pg. 290). Children begin developing these understandings at a very young age, but it is important to teach them the context of comprehension in all genres and elements of text.

Elements of story structure was also an important element of this story. Characters, setting, plot, theme, and point of view are all significant pieces of story structure that students learn and add up to their understanding of comprehension. These element can develop at different levels throughout the students academic years. For example, I am working in a kindergarten classroom right now, and the way they represent plot is through beginning-middle-end stories. Not only do they do this for comprehension when reading a story as a class, but they also create stories that have a beginning, middle, and end. These are the first understandings of comprehension in plot for younger students which later develops in to summarizing, paraphrasing, and key points from the text.

There are countless ways to present text factors to students and it is vital that we do it in a variety of ways which include different genres and lesson plans. Text factors help students understand the text and use comprehension, but "the goal is for students to actually use what they've learned about text factors when they're reading and writing" (Pg. 312). As teachers, we cannot just give students meaningless activities that have them pick out characters or settings and not have it apply to their comprehension of the story, rather give them activities that can connect to their prior knowledge and real life examples.

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