Thursday, February 9, 2012

Teaching Comprehension!

Hello there, my name is Rachel Reyna.  I co-own Fisher Reyna Education.  We don’t have a blog, but we run a website with reading resources and offer professional development.  I was super excited when Crystal asked me to guest blog because we often work with the “tested” grade levels, but do not often meet with the primary grade teachersand your work is where it ALL begins!

My partner, Lois Fisher and I, started our website subscription with the goal of improving instruction in reading.  This blog post is about teaching comprehension.  Listening comprehension (in my opinion) is one of the most important skills teachers can explicitly teach students.  Read Alouds are critical. I’m preaching to the choir, right?  So great! You agree.  Then here are some “nuggets” of information on LISTENING comprehension that impact READING comprehension.

Read Alouds need to be preplanned and intentionally selected by text structure.  That’s right! Text structure has a huge impact on comprehension because students will use the structure to go from retelling a story to summarizing it. Most of you probably have a score of fictional books you enjoy reading aloud.  But, other structures like expository text, biographies, and fictional works based on theme without a problem/solution plot need to read, too. 

Text structure is not genre.  Genre can have many forms of structure.  For example, here are two of my favorite books to read aloud. I tell students they will be hearing two stories.  One will have a major problem that will eventually be solved.  The other story tells about an imaginary play place called Roxaboxen.  This story will not have a major problem.  It is a fictional story written to tell about a special play place for a group of children.
 Knuffle Bunny By Mo Willems

 Roxaboxen by Alice Mclerran

Here are two problem/solution type books.  One is a fictional story. One is a story written as a poem.

Swimmy by Leo Lionni
The Spider and the Fly by

As for expository text, be sure to include biographies in your Read Alouds.  Biographies are expository in nature, but have a more specific outline that includes the name of the noteworthy person as the topic. The person’s greatest accomplishment will be the central idea. Biographies have a natural order to the way they are generally written.  The youngest students can and DO follow this as you are reading if you explicitly tell them: We will be introduced to the person, then told about their early days, education or training.  Then we’ll learn some important things that happened in their life that led to their greatest accomplishment.  Lastly, the author will leave us with their influence or the reason we remember them.
Here is a picture of me reading to 4-year olds and some kindergarten students.  Yes. They are incredibly sharp at answering questions about structure. 
Well, thank you so much for hearing my message and letting me put it out there to the universe! Visit us at  We offer lots of free book activities that have the text structure outlined in our Thinking Guides.

Thank you again, Crystal, for letting Fisher Reyna Education be part of Kreativeinkinder! 


  1. Thanks for the reminders! I need to find my Roxaboxen!

  2. Thanks again for the opportunity to guest blog Crystal! We are so excited to be included. I hope everyone found the info helpful. :)