Putting It All Together: Integrating Basic Skills and Building Reading Comprehension

At this point, Anna knew all of the letter sound correspondences and she had developed competence blending sounds, decoding, and recognizing words by sight. She was able to apply her decoding and sight word recognition skills during shared reading activities and had gradually assumed responsibility for reading more and more words in each sentence.

We continued to review the skills that she had already acquired to build her fluency, but now we started to focus on integrating all these skills and building her reading comprehension skills. All along we had been working to build her comprehension when we read books to her, but now we were targeting her comprehension skills when she was reading independently.

At this point, Anna was receiving instruction in a number of skills. We increased the length of Anna’s instructional sessions to approximately 60 minutes in total, but we still provided her with breaks between different activities. Her daily schedule looked something like this.

Targeted skill Time spent in instruction
Reading comprehension

·      Read simple stories and demonstrate factual understanding

·      Later introduce inference skills

15-20 minutes
Letter sound correspondences

·      Teach new letter sounds

·      Review known letter sounds

5 minutes
Decoding skills

·      Practice decoding more complex words

·      Introduce simple decoding rules (e.g., silent e)

5-10 minutes
Sight word recognition skills

·      Practice sight words already acquired

·      Introduce new sight words

5-10 minutes
Shared reading

·      Practice applying decoding & sight word skills during shared book reading

·      Increase the number of words targeted in each sentence

10 minutes
Phonological awareness

·      Practice sound blending skills

5 minutes
Reading books to Anna and talking about these books to build language skills 10-15 minutes

This was a very important stage of instruction for Anna, since the overall goal of literacy instruction is that the learner read and understand a wide range of written texts.

We used the Literacy Instruction Checklist to make sure that the instruction in reading comprehension was effective. Specifically, we checked that we:

  • Made instruction meaningful and motivating
  • Provided sufficient time for instruction
  • Targeted appropriate skills
  • Utilized effective instructional procedures
  • Provided adaptations to support participation.

Checklist for effective practices

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