Chapter 11 talks about building comprehension pretty extensively. The section I want to talk about focused on DRA (Directive Reading Activity). The DRA is an activity that is used to help improve comprehension skills and can be used also as an assessment piece. This is usually used as a part of guided practice. The DRA lesson consists of five steps that incorporate preparation, silent reading, discussion, rereading, and follow-up.
In this stage you prepare the student with whatever necessities they need for the reading. The reading can be anything from a news article to a chapter of a book to a short story. You should introduce the reading during this preparation stage and activate prior knowledge about the topic of the reading. You should also address new vocabulary and concepts during this stage to help the student be successful. This stage should generate interest in the text and should build on background knowledge. Students might need help generating their background knowledge, or schema, because students may not automatically activate it.
This stage is where the student engages in the reading silently. Gunning talks about how the reading should be silent to maximize comprehension. He talks about how reading orally can hinder the comprehension. However, I don’t know if I agree with this aspect because some students feel more comfortable reading aloud as they read. I was one of those kids that reading silently actual hurt my comprehension and I got more from the text when reading aloud to myself. When I read aloud it forced me pay more attention to the text; when I read silently my mind wondered consistently and I would not remember anything. All I am trying to say is that you should let the student read the text however they feel comfortable.
Discussion and Rereading
I labeled discussion and rereading together because often these two steps coincide with each other. The discussion usually starts with the student answering the main question. To help the student answer the main question, you can break up the question into different parts that may be easier for the student to work with. During the discussion, misconceptions can be discussed along with widening concepts or discussing confusing parts form the story. Through the discussion, organization of the text’s information can be addressed. You can look back into the text in order to obtain information that was missed or confusing. This is why discussion and rereading sometimes go hand in hand. Going back through the text and rereading can further the discussion while helping the student to understand what they might have missed.
The follow-up is an optional step and can be used in many ways. This step is pretty much to see if they remember the concepts or if they might have further investigated the concepts.