In Mexico, 45% of the literate population over the age of 18 reported reading at least one book in the past 12 months. One-third of this group also stated they had trouble fully understanding what they had read.
In France, reading comprehension as a separate subject is a recent addition to the school curriculum. It was not until new national guidelines were issued in 2002, and then more recently in 2015, that it was taught using specific methods, activities, and sequences as well as dedicated learning tools.
On October 13, we invited teachers throughout Mexico to participate in our online conference entitled “Improving Reading Comprehension in Elementary Schools” hosted by Melina Ochoa, an educational expert. Read on for a look back at the event with Melina.
Why did you decide to focus on reading comprehension?
Reading is not something that comes naturally. It’s a skill that develops over years. First, we learn how to read and only later do we learn to understand what we read. It is crucial that we teach children how to understand what they’re reading so they can then go on to learn about all other topics.
What principles do you need to know to help students learn?
There are several factors that play a role in reading comprehension:
- Ability to concentrate and ignore exterior stimuli to focus on what you’re reading
- Ability to read continuously by linking separate ideas together
- Ability to summarize, synthesize, and attribute meaning
- Ability to make significant connections (understanding) between a text’s various building blocks
Not to mention the student’s ability to make emotional connections, of course. Students perform much better when they are motivated.
What do you recommend to teachers?
During the webinar, I presented concrete examples of exercises designed to help teach students how to:
- Identify specific information in a text (dates, authors, words they didn’t know, etc.)
- Use the dictionary or Internet to look up words they didn’t understand
- Practice reading and analyzing each paragraph
- Explain the work of one of their fellow students
How can the ONE and NEO platforms help teach reading comprehension?
Teachers have access to an array of tools, such as the Multimedia Notebook and Wiki, that are great for working on reading comprehension. They can ask students to test out their knowledge with quizzes on the Exercises app. The interactive nature of ONE and NEO allows students to learn through practice by empowering them to complete exercises online.
I’d also like to point out the importance of the emotional side of the equation. Ensuring students are attentive and engaged is part of a teacher’s job. The highly visual and interactive multimedia format used in ONE and NEO is particularly appealing to students. When it comes to learning the content and completing exercises, it puts the ball in their court.