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Journal > The Reading Teacher

What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Comprehension

by Laura S. Pardo

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What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Comprehension

Grades K – 8
Type Journal
Published November 2004
Publisher International Literacy Association



This article presents a model of comprehension to support classroom teachers as they engage their students in making meaning from text. Four areas contribute to the comprehension process: the reader, the context, the text, and the transaction, which is described as the intersection of the reader and text situated within a specific context. This model is used to describe research-based, practical applications for teachers as they provide support for comprehension in grades K6. Teachers support the reader by teaching decoding skills, helping children build fluency, building and activating students' background knowledge, teaching vocabulary skills, motivating students, and engaging students in personal response to text. Teachers support the text by teaching text structures, modeling appropriate text selection, and providing regular independent reading time. Teachers create and support a sociocultural context that values reading and writing, contains a wide variety of texts, allows students to take risks, and provides time for reading aloud independently. Teachers support transaction by providing explicit instruction of comprehension strategies, teaching children to monitor and repair, using multiple strategy approaches, scaffolding support, and making reading and writing connections visible to students.


Pardo, L.S. (2004). What every teacher needs to know about comprehension. The Reading Teacher, 58, 272-280.


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