Buehl's Reading Comprehension Processes
Buehl proposes the concept that proficient readers engage in 7 types of reading
comprehension strategies. I am in full agreement with him that these reading processes are
critical for our students to develop while in school, in order for them to engage in higherlevel reading. As I evaluate these skills, I would rate making connections to prior knowledge
as the most helpful. If students can tap into their prior knowledge, then almost all the other
processes will follow. If you notice, most of the other processes include in their description
“background knowledge”, such as making inferences and synthesizing. Even creating mental
images, applying fix up strategies and generating questions will be based on some past
instruction or skill that they will need to tap into to engage in the process. Therefore, one
very important activity that we as educators must present is loads of background information
so our students can successfully make connections to new material or difficult texts. In ELA
students often have to respond to literature.
CCSS ELA Literacy R.L. 9-10.11 states that high-school students must “interpret, analyze,
and evaluate narratives, poetry, and drama... by making connections to: other texts, ideas,
cultural perspectives, eras, personal events and situations”. As I consider the 9th grade
reading list, which includes: Of Mice and Men, The Odyssey, Romero and Juliet, Out of the
Dust and other poems and short stories; I know that I will have to provide background
information on all these readings. Eras such as The Great Depression, The Dustbowl, Ancient
Greece, and Elizabethan times will need to be discussed so that students can picture the
setting and difficulties that might be encountered by the characters. Emotions that they feel
in different situations has to be connected to what the emotions of the character may be, to
fully understand the plot of a narrative and to infer or know why characters act in certain
ways. By front loading the readings, students can delve deeper into the meaning of the story
they are reading. Hopefully, the other content areas can also use some of these methods to
allow students to connect prior knowledge when reading texts in their area.
Modes of Thinking
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.1Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly
and when drawing inferences from the text.Drawing inferences from text is an essential skill for overall
comprehension in an ELA class. Drawing inferences allows students to makes connections between the
author's message and real life connections. If students are not making drawing inferences while reading
they will not be able to have a complete understanding of the text.
I think that one thinking mode that will help students gain strong inference making skills is to generate
questions. Buehl states "Comprehension is, to a significant degree, a process of inquiry. Proficient readers
pose questions to themselves as they read. Asking questions is the art of carrying on an inner conversation
with an author, as well as an internal dialogue within one’s self". Making inferences is the foundation of
reading and comprehending and in order to be making appropriate connections, readers need to be asking
themselves questions while they read. In doing so, they are further investing themselves for reading and
givings themselves a purpose. Students will then see how the answers to their questions change their
thinking and overall understanding of the text allowing them to make authentic inferences about the
I would teach a lesson like this using guided release. I would have to model my thinking and self
questioning for students first to show them how I am holding myself accountable for finding those
answers. Then, I would be able to show them the connection between my questions and my inferences for
the text. This is a complicated skill and will take some modeling for students to grasp.
Comprehension Processes of Proficient Readers
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the
course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details;
provide an objective summary of the text.
This standard is one that I feel is incredibly important in all content areas but particularly
within English Language Arts. Teaching students the skill of being able to identify a theme
or central idea within a work of literature, or any material they are assigned to read, will
allow them to think critically and look for textual clues that will allow them to dissect words
and sentences to find deeper meanings and intentional implications in an author’s work. It is
also important to show students how to read and reflect objectively in order to be
constructive and educated readers who are able to show understanding for material their
have read regardless of their background or personal experiences.
Proficient readers glean the essence of a text (determine importance) and organize these ideas
into coherent summaries of meaning. Effective comprehension leads to new learning and the
development of new schema (background knowledge). Proficient readers make evaluations,
construct generalizations, and draw conclusions from a text.
This mode seen in Buehl’s (2011) article is a mode that has roots in English Language Arts
and would elevate students’ learning experience in ELA through the use of synthesizing. In
ELA, close and careful reading it imperative to one’s understanding and success within
literature and any reading material because the base of the content area is finding the
importance and reason behind all and any text. When students are able to effectively
comprehend what they are reading, they will be able to build upon their prior knowledge
and continually grow both intellectually and emotionally.
If students were to use synthesize in order to deconstruct texts and meet the objectives
stated in the standard above, I believe they would be more successful and comprehend the
intentions and meaning behind the texts in a more productive manner. Students would use
synthesize in order to determine the importance of a text and organize the ideas in order to
establish a theme or central idea expressed by the author. When they are able to determine
the theme or central idea, they can then channel their comprehension into new knowledge
which can then be applied to their prior knowledge to create complete understanding which
will lead to students being able to create an objective summary of the text that shows their
depth of knowledge and the unbiased conclusions they were able to draw from it.
7 modes of thinking
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
In social studies, students need to decipher between first hand accounts and secondary transference of
information proficiently in order to determine the authors purpose. The importance in determining the
difference between these two perspectives allows historians to determine authors point of view. Students
need to develop the ability to identify relevant text evidence from a text and connect it to the authors
point of view and purpose in writing that informational piece. Students need to take that information and
analyze it in order to differentiate key ideas and important information.
The most relatable mode of thinking is Determining Importance Because it allows the student to pull apart
the text in order to identify specific text evidence that determines the authors point of view (POV).
Understanding key concepts, “amidst much background information allows proficient readers to strive to
differentiate key ideas, themes, and information from details so they are not overwhelmed by facts”
(Buehl 2011, p., 2). I would have the students create a T-chart in order to evaluate the differences between
how historical information can be presented.
Through analyzing text, the reader can create a deeper understanding of the authors POV and why it is
relevant in determining the authors relation to a particular historical event. Analyzing both primary and
secondary sources allows the reader to determine the difference between the emotions of actually being in
a situation first hand and reporting a situation. The student will be able to deconstruct the text by
determining what happened, what caused it to happen, what changed because of this interaction. The
students can also create a connection to the past and apply it to their current situation.
Buehl, D. (2009) Classroom strategies for Interactive Learning, 3rd Ed. Newark: DE: International Reading
Comprehension Processes of Proficient Readers
One of the NYS learning standards for UPK is listed as: Engagement 1. Actively and
confidently engages in play as a means of exploration and learning, f) Demonstrates
awareness of connections between prior and new knowledge. For students to meet this
standard they need to be able to relate something they already know to something they are
currently learning. This standard would match the mode of : Making connections to prior
knowledge. In this grade students are not reading yet, so the teacher has to guide them
through the process, usually the use of read aloud activities or other types of guided reading.
When students are able to relay information that they already know to a new topic, they are
better able to understand what they are learning. Connecting information to prior
knowledge also helps students retain the new knowledge.
I also teach ELL online and many of my regular students are from 5 to 10 years of age.
Therefore, I would choose standard 1.(performance indicators for early childhood, students
will listen, speak, read, and write in English for information and understanding. 5)
Formulate, ask, and respond to questions to obtain and provide information and
meaning. Students should be able to respond appropriately to questions asked, create their
own questions about the topic and ask questions about what they do not understand. The
mode I would choose for this standard is generating questions. The lessons are short, so
questioning tactics are one of the best options. When students question what they are
reading, it makes them think about the topic, with a better chance
of understanding/remembering what they read.
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