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Teaching reading strategies by using a comprehension framework.
Education, Primary (Methods)
Reading teachers (Methods)
Reading comprehension
Troegger, Danielle
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Name: Practically Primary Publisher: Australian Literacy Educators' Association Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Education Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 Australian Literacy Educators' Association ISSN: 1324-5961
Date: Feb, 2011 Source Volume: 16 Source Issue: 1
Geographic Scope: Australia Geographic Code: 8AUST Australia

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The COR Reading Comprehension Framework

Last year, I was fortunate to be involved in a year long professional development project for teachers from a range of independent Queensland schools. The project involved the implementation of the COR Reading Comprehension Framework into our classrooms to improve the teaching and learning of comprehension strategies. The COR framework project was based on the findings of Dr Gary Woolley's (2006) PhD thesis dissertation: The development, documentation, and evaluation of a strategy-training program for primary school students with reading comprehension difficulties. The focus of the dissertation was the Comprehension of the Narrative intervention program. Although the framework was developed to assist students with learning difficulties, it can also be implemented as a whole-class approach and modified to suit a particular year level.

The COR Framework

The COR framework allows students to be active researchers and supports the application of conscious thinking and metacognitive processes while reading and comprehending texts. This is achieved by using the COR lesson procedures to scaffold learning and to build on prior knowledge during each of the six stages of the program which has been based on Bloom's Taxonomy. Each lesson incorporates a before, during and after reading phase where the students can apply their newly learnt strategies to the narrative or information texts at the word, sentence, paragraph and discourse levels. Each phase of the COR framework draws on a set of skills as summarised in Table 1.

Implementing the COR Framework into a Reading Hour

I implemented the comprehension framework as part of my Reading Hour in my Year 2 classroom. The Reading Hour comprises of a whole/part/whole approach. We were working on an animal unit titled All Creatures Great and Small and were studying the characteristics and habitats of different animals. At the beginning of our Reading Hour, I introduced the big book Please Don't Feed the Bears and encouraged the students to activate prior knowledge by posing the question 'What do I already know about bears?' I then modelled making a concept map on the whiteboard of the students' known words and information about bears. During the modelled reading, I used think-aloud strategies and modelled using 'clicks' and 'clunks':


When we are reading and we can read the words and understand what we are reading we click, click, click along but when we come to a word we don't know or understand the meaning of we clunk and stop. Then when we find a clunk, what fix-up strategies can we use to solve the clunk?

The strategies were printed on A4 Clunk Expert cards and laminated so that the students could refer to them during shared, guided and independent reading. After the reading, we reviewed the facts and added new words and information to the concept map.

Reading Groups and the COR Framework

The next phase of the Reading Hour was cooperative group work. Here, the students worked in their allocated reading groups with a teacher, teacher aide or classroom helper on the following tasks: Guided Reading; Comprehension; Constructing a Concept Map; Visualising.

1. Guided Reading, working with texts and generating questions

During guided reading of the text Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the students worked with a teacher aide with the focus of the lesson being on generating questions before, during and after the reading of the text. The teacher aide and students used question cards to assist them generate questions. This started as only an oral lesson as the focus was on the discussion by activating prior knowledge, making predictions, identifying details, determining the main idea, identifying clunks, sharing information and generating questions to locate new information. Eventually, the students reached the stage where they were recording questions before, during and after reading texts in their Learning Journals and posing questions for their peers to answer. It had also been successful in stimulating inferential questions with students posing questions commencing with 'I wonder why ...'. Table 2 summarises questions that can be posed (Pearson Education, nd).


2. Comprehension and clarifying information in texts

I usually worked with the comprehension group with a shared reading approach to working with non-fiction texts. The focus of the lesson was to identify clunks in our reading and clarify meaning. At first, the students thought of clunks as words they didn't know. After several lessons, they began to also identify words that they didn't know the meaning of or didn't quite make sense in the context of the text. Towards the end of the year, they were scanning the text and looking for clunks and asking, what does that word mean? For example, we came across the word 'hide' and the students didn't know that it meant another word for the animal's skin. This provided a great opportunity to make a word web for all the meanings of the word 'hide'. The students turned into reading detectives and got very excited when they found a clunk in the text. 'Did you know that grizzly means grey even though grizzly bears are brown?' 'But they do have grey tips on their fur like a grizzly old man'. They loved sharing this fact with visitors! The students took ownership of their clunks and used the fix-up strategies to solve their clunks. The clunks were written on pieces of card to make a clunk chart which gradually turned into a clunk wall.



3. Comprehension and concept maps

The concept map group worked collaboratively to construct a concept map using coloured paper circles that they attached to a large sheet of cardboard using bluetac. The students used a familiar text and negotiated to reread it again independently, in pairs, all together or in smaller groups. They worked together to determine the main idea and identify details in the text. The students worked with a classroom helper and generated a lot of discussion while constructing their concept maps. The movable paper circles and blutac allowed the students to move information around and group it in a particular way. It also provided the opportunity to negotiate what information should be included, taken out or extended upon. The concept maps were displayed in the classroom and then provided a visual aid to assist the students when they wrote information reports on a particular animal.

4. Comprehension and visualisation

The visualisation group worked with the learning support teacher who used a sketch-to-stretch approach to develop visualising strategies in students when reading texts to help them make sense of the text and the author's intention. It also assisted them to make connections to prior knowledge and life experiences. A descriptive scene is read to the students by the teacher. The students then imagined what the scene looked like, what the characters looked like and what events were taking place. They then visualised and drew these details in a sketch. The teacher then encouraged the students to think of descriptive, visual words to describe the contents of their drawings as well as to further develop their vocabulary. These words were recorded under headings such as colour, size, shape, number, texture, time etc.

Whole Class Reflection

Once the reading groups had completed their activity, we all came back together as a whole group to share our new learning. This sharing time varied between a group sharing and individual students. The students shared their specific achievement which may have been a clunk that they had identified, a concept map they had constructed, new information they had discovered or new vocabulary they had developed. The new learning was celebrated and recorded in their Learning Journals. This new learning was then applied in the Writing Hour with such activities as: comparing and contrasting the non-fiction text--The Big Bear and the fiction text--Goldilocks and the Three Bears, sequencing the main events in the texts, writing a summary of the text read, writing an information report and writing a description of the characters and scenes.


The COR framework incorporates --

* Graphic organisers for visual and verbal integration

* Linking new knowledge with prior knowledge

* Cooperative group work

* Self-regulating processes--setting reading goals, monitoring comprehension, reflecting on reading outcomes

The COR framework provides a layered scaffold that builds on the previously learnt comprehension strategies of prior lessons. The lessons are based on developing comprehension strategies at the factual level, the conceptual level and the metacognitive level. Each of the six stages of the Framework introduces a new level of cognition based on Bloom's Taxonomy: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

During the project, we worked through the knowledge stage and the comprehension stage. The 'wow' moments were seeing how the students had developed more confidence in their approach towards working with texts. They actually scanned the text looking for 'clunks' before they started reading, they were verbalising the strategies they were using while they were reading the text and they were generating questions about the text after the reading. The next step is to build on this confidence and develop metacognition in their reading comprehension by encouraging the students to set goals before reading, monitor their goals during reading and reflect on their goals after reading. Implementing the COR Framework has provided an effective structure for the teaching and learning of comprehension strategies when working with texts for both my Year 2 students and for me.



Pearson Education (nd) Questions before, during, and after reading. Accessed November 22nd 2010 at http:// 48617.html?page=2&detoured=1

Woolley, G. (2006). The development, documentation, and evaluation of a strategy-training program for primary school students with reading comprehension difficulties. Unpublished Thesis, Griffith University.

Woolley, G. (2010) COR Framework: A Multiple Strategy Reading Comprehension Intervention Project: Program Notes and Supplementary Materials. A joint partnership: Griffith University and Independent Schools Queensland.

Fix-up strategies:

* Look for a part of the word that you know

* Break the word up and look for smaller words in it

* Use a picture

* Think of the story or the information in the text

* Re-read the sentence with the clunk and the sentence before or after it, looking for clues

* Re-read the sentence without the word

* Think about what word would make sense

* Use a glossary or a dictionary

* If something is still not clear after trying all these fix-up strategies, ask for help

Danielle Troeger is a primary teacher with 16 years' teaching experience. She has a strong interest in the area of literacy particularly in reading. Danielle is a trained Reading Recovery teacher and has completed a Master of Education with major studies in literacy from Griffith University, Brisbane. She enjoys the challenge of implementing new teaching strategies into her classroom. Danielle currently teaches Year 2 at Forest Lake College Brisbane.
Table 1. COR Framework (Woolley, 2009)

BEFORE                            DURING

Consider (factual)                Overview

* Skim, scan, visualise           * Gist, compare and

Conceptualise (conceptual)        Organise

* Discuss: vocabulary and genre   * Clarify, question,

Contrive (metacognitive)          Observe

* Negotiate, predict, set goals   * Monitor goals:
                                  process and

BEFORE                            AFTER

Consider (factual)                Review (factual)

* Skim, scan, visualise           * Summarise, visualise,
                                  graphic organiser

Conceptualise (conceptual)        Relate (conceptual)

* Discuss: vocabulary and genre   * Extend, relate, create

Contrive (metacognitive)          Revise (metacognitive)

* Negotiate, predict, set goals


What have I learned? What else do I need to know? Where will I find

Table 2. Questions to ask and answer...

DECIDE           * What clues does the title give you about the text?
                 * What type of text is this? Fiction? Non-fiction?

                 * Why are you reading this text? To perform a task? To
                 gain information? To be entertained?

                 * What do you already know about the topic?

                 * What predictions can you make?

DURING           * What did you learn from what you just read?
                 * Do you need to reread? Slow down? Use a different

                 * Can you predict what could happen next?

                 * What is the main idea?

                 * Can you summarise it?

                 * What picture is the author 'painting' in your head?
                 What details from the text help to paint this

                 * Are there words you do not know?

                 * Does not knowing these words affect your
                 understanding of the text?

                 * Do you need to look them up in a dictionary?

AFTER            * What predictions were confirmed?
                 * What details in the text confirmed them?

                 * What were the main ideas and themes presented in the

                 * How did the author present information?

                 * What connections did you make to the text?
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