Instruction in Reading Comprehension for Primary-Grade Students: A Focus on Text Structure
The studies described here are designed to teach reading comprehension to at-risk students in the second and third grades. The focus is on text structure. First, there is an evaluation of a program — the Theme Scheme — that teaches students to identify themes of stories and apply those themes to real life; this instruction goes beyond the plot-level focus of typical primary-grade instruction. Second, an instructional program that teaches a common expository text structure, compare/contrast, is evaluated in a series of studies; content similar to science content typically taught at the primary level is used. The results of these studies suggest that at-risk children in the primary grades can achieve gains in comprehension, including the ability to transfer what they have learned to novel texts, when they are given highly structured and explicit instruction that focuses on text structure.