Question: How was reading taught in the past?
Answer/Quote: “There is an age-old concern that young people in school are not reading for meaning. This concern may stem from earlier teaching practices. As early as 1831, at the Sessional School in Edinburgh, the emphasis in reading instruction was on pronouncing words with accuracy and fluency. Whether the young reader understood what was read was not important. Understanding, it was felt, would come later. In short, the goal of the teacher was to ensure the young reader became a proficient decoder.” P. 86.
Comment: How do you teach understanding what is read? The directed reading assignment (DRA). The more students know about a topic, the more they will comprehend information on the topic. First, find out what the students know about the topic. If not much, build up background information on the topic to be read in the chapter. Pre-teach difficult and unfamiliar vocabulary. That way the students will notice the words when they see them in the text. Survey the chapter. Read the title, sub-titles, the first paragraph, the first sentence of intermediate paragraphs and last paragraph. Set purpose by having the students raise questions from the survey they will read to answer. And, after reading and discussing, apply the information in some way. The quickest way to do that is to use the Internet to explore ideas on the topic.
However, a second concern today is skill in reading aloud, the forgotten reading skill. Students need to learn to read aloud effectively. They can begin by reading their compositions aloud. Practice, Practice, Practice. RayS.
Title: “Reading But Not Understanding.” Susan Dymock. Journal of Reading (October 1993), 86-91.