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Retention / Comprehension Issue

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    Retention / Comprehension Issue

    My upcoming 7th grade girl continues to struggle with remembering what she has read for school. This is an ongoing issue she has had for a long time. She does struggle with mild dyslexia. She has successfully read all of the Harry Potter books this year. However, anything that I assign for school she cannot retain. How do I help her retain what she is reading?

    Thanks!

    #2
    Re: Retention / Comprehension Issue

    Welcome!

    A few clarifying questions will help us answer:

    1. Not retaining ...
    -Is she complaining that she does not remember, or are you noticing that she has trouble remembering what she reads, or both?
    -In what ways are you currently testing comprehension and retention of material? (written exams, chapter tests, reports, oral discussion)

    2. Reading
    How is she reading? For example, when she reads her school assignments, does she do this independently, or are you reading together?

    A side story --
    I recently visited a combined 5th/6th literature classroom (Hillsdale Academy in Michigan), where I thoroughly enjoyed this approach:
    Everyone had an individual copy of the book, including the teacher, and including me as a guest. They were midway through the book, so we picked up there. Each student was seated at a round table suitable for discussion. The teacher stood, walking around the table, tapping various students to read. All read along. Having, of course, read the book ahead of time, the teacher paused at appropriate places to discuss unfamiliar words she previously identified on written sheets she had given each student. She asked a few thought-provoking questions here and there, clearly enjoying the book herself. "Why do you think he did that?" She kept everyone on topic. They continued. She respected their answers, and she continued asking serious, even heartfelt questions.

    I watched and lamented to myself that too often as homeschoolers (and many classroom teachers do this too), we fall into the trap of "assigning literature," rather than teaching literature. This intelligent, gifted teacher modeled careful reading, and she taught literature.


    The above approach of reading, clarifying vocabulary, questioning, and discussing is the same approach used at Highlands Latin School with the MP Literature Guides. I would certainly begin there, if this is not the current practice for her. Given her dyslexia, even mild, she needs the support.

    3. More information
    If you are already doing all of the above, a little more information about her history and about your concerns will help us give you a better answer.


    Thanks-
    Cheryl

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Retention / Comprehension Issue

      Originally posted by cherylswope View Post
      Welcome!

      A few clarifying questions will help us answer:

      1. Not retaining ...
      -Is she complaining that she does not remember, or are you noticing that she has trouble remembering what she reads, or both?
      -In what ways are you currently testing comprehension and retention of material? (written exams, chapter tests, reports, oral discussion)

      2. Reading
      How is she reading? For example, when she reads her school assignments, does she do this independently, or are you reading together?

      A side story --
      I recently visited a combined 5th/6th literature classroom (Hillsdale Academy in Michigan), where I thoroughly enjoyed this approach:
      Everyone had an individual copy of the book, including the teacher, and including me as a guest. They were midway through the book, so we picked up there. Each student was seated at a round table suitable for discussion. The teacher stood, walking around the table, tapping various students to read. All read along. Having, of course, read the book ahead of time, the teacher paused at appropriate places to discuss unfamiliar words she previously identified on written sheets she had given each student. She asked a few thought-provoking questions here and there, clearly enjoying the book herself. "Why do you think he did that?" She kept everyone on topic. They continued. She respected their answers, and she continued asking serious, even heartfelt questions.

      I watched and lamented to myself that too often as homeschoolers (and many classroom teachers do this too), we fall into the trap of "assigning literature," rather than teaching literature. This intelligent, gifted teacher modeled careful reading, and she taught literature.


      The above approach of reading, clarifying vocabulary, questioning, and discussing is the same approach used at Highlands Latin School with the MP Literature Guides. I would certainly begin there, if this is not the current practice for her. Given her dyslexia, even mild, she needs the support.

      3. More information
      If you are already doing all of the above, a little more information about her history and about your concerns will help us give you a better answer.


      Thanks-
      Cheryl
      Oh I love this. I fall into the trap of assigning Lit and not teaching. I go over the guide with my children using the TM but we do lack that deep enriching discussion. I would love to read all the books my children are reading, it just doesn't happen. How does one teach Lit with good Discussion not having read the book?
      Katie

      DS 17: Senior!
      DD 14: 10th
      DD 10: 6th
      Twin DD's 8: 3rd
      Mix of MP, Co-op, TAN and traveling the U.S

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Retention / Comprehension Issue

        I'm interested to see if your answers to Cheryl's questions indicate a similar problem to my dd12.

        I typically read our CS and Famous Men selections aloud, go over the comprehension questions orally and then have my kids fill out their workbooks independently (I currently have a 6th and 4th grader who are combined for CS but are on their grade levels for Famous Men). However, I was assigning literature as "solitary" work to do on their own.

        I'll tell you our story and hopefully you might find something in here helpful. (Or, if not, you can toss some overripe fruit at me.)

        My dd12 (6th grade) can read very well but her comprehension hasn't quite caught up with her fluency - and this has become worse in the past year. She suffers from issues with retention due to her illness ("brain fog") and also has trouble concentrating for long periods of time. She is fantastic when it comes to concrete questions like character, plot and setting...but she really took a nosedive this year when the literature guides wanted her to delve a bit more deeply into the content of the stories.
        Personally, I'm relieved to know that the school Cheryl visited is doing exactly what I recently doing at home!

        When I realized how much dd was struggling, I pulled her off of "Adam of the Road"(6M) and had her read "Dangerous Journey" (4A). Since her brother was also about to begin this for his 4th grade reading, I bought 3 copies of the book and we sat and took turns reading paragraphs/pages. We'd discuss what was happening/any new vocabulary and the comprehension questions. Then the kids would fill out their required workbook questions (I generally discuss all of them but just have the kids write out only the ones that will appear on tests/quizzes. They do all the vocab, assigned comprehension and, sometimes, the enrichment).

        We just finished DG this week and it was simply wonderful. We are going to start the "Blue Fairy Book" next week doing this same thing. (Since we came a bit later to the full MP core party, dd had not yet read this fantastic work.) It was a HUGE relief for her to feel more confident in the reading and to feel like she was mastering the comprehension questions. Because we were reading aloud and following along together, this helped her to pay better attention and retain more of what she was reading. Even now, she remembers what was read at the beginning of the book - something that was NOT happening when she was reading at her MP grade level independently (well, since she got sick, anyway). **She wanted to slog through "Door in the Wall", thinking that would be easier than AotR...but we've now put that aside, too.**

        Also, because I'm now spending more time reading aloud/reading together with the kids, I splurged and bought audiobooks on CD for several of the independent/read-aloud selections. DD just finished listening to "I, Juan de Pareja" on audiobook and she just loved it. She got more out of listening to it (and rewinding and re-listening) than she would have if I'd just assigned her to read it.

        At first, this seemed like a blow to her. My dd is a real go-getter and school has always come very easily to her. After she became ill last year, she is really having a tough time with more abstract subjects like literature and composition and it has caused a lot of anxiety and loss of self-esteem. She was, at first, resistant to reading the same books her little brother was reading. However, I approached it as our "family reading time" and told both kids that there were books I really wanted to read and discuss as a family. Once we got started with "Dangerous Journey" this way, the kids were hooked...and now they can't wait for Blue Fairy! *breathes HUGE sigh of relief* She also feels better because now that she's building confidence, she's looking forward to eventually tackling the books she set aside from this year. As Tanya once told me, there's no such thing as being behind in literature. <3
        Mary

        DD15 - 9th core + CLRC Ancient Greek I & Latin IV + VideoText math
        DS12 - 7th core + Novare Earth Science + CLRC HS Latin I + VideoText math
        DD8 - SC level 2

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Retention / Comprehension Issue

          Originally posted by cherylswope View Post
          Welcome!

          A few clarifying questions will help us answer:

          1. Not retaining ...
          -Is she complaining that she does not remember, or are you noticing that she has trouble remembering what she reads, or both? We both notice. Unless it's something she is really interested in, she doesn't retain it. I should say here that she does have ADD and is on medication for that.
          -In what ways are you currently testing comprehension and retention of material? (written exams, chapter tests, reports, oral discussion) Usually we just do a few comprehension questions. Most of the books she is reading, I do not have time to read. We do a history course that has a lot of reading, and I am homeschooling four children right now.

          2. Reading
          How is she reading? For example, when she reads her school assignments, does she do this independently, or are you reading together? She usually reads independently. We sometimes will read a book together aloud, since she has a hard time reading aloud. I often have her read a book to her younger siblings but this is well below her reading level.

          A side story --
          I recently visited a combined 5th/6th literature classroom (Hillsdale Academy in Michigan), where I thoroughly enjoyed this approach:
          Everyone had an individual copy of the book, including the teacher, and including me as a guest. They were midway through the book, so we picked up there. Each student was seated at a round table suitable for discussion. The teacher stood, walking around the table, tapping various students to read. All read along. Having, of course, read the book ahead of time, the teacher paused at appropriate places to discuss unfamiliar words she previously identified on written sheets she had given each student. She asked a few thought-provoking questions here and there, clearly enjoying the book herself. "Why do you think he did that?" She kept everyone on topic. They continued. She respected their answers, and she continued asking serious, even heartfelt questions.

          I watched and lamented to myself that too often as homeschoolers (and many classroom teachers do this too), we fall into the trap of "assigning literature," rather than teaching literature. This intelligent, gifted teacher modeled careful reading, and she taught literature.


          The above approach of reading, clarifying vocabulary, questioning, and discussing is the same approach used at Highlands Latin School with the MP Literature Guides. I would certainly begin there, if this is not the current practice for her. Given her dyslexia, even mild, she needs the support.

          I would love to do this, however, I'm not sure how I would with the kids I am homeschooling right now. We have a 10th, 7th, and 2nd grader and a kindergartener. We also have a baby due in December.

          3. More information
          If you are already doing all of the above, a little more information about her history and about your concerns will help us give you a better answer.

          She was diagnosed with an auditory processing issue in second grade. However, we did remediation for that and it seems to have helped.

          Thanks-
          Cheryl
          I put my answers within the post above. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

          Comment


            #6
            Re: Retention / Comprehension Issue

            Thank you, mrsjames3. Yes, this is very helpful.

            Summarizing:

            -Rising 7th grader
            -ADD, Auditory Processing Disorder, Dyslexia
            -Busy household (homeschooling a 10th, 7th, 2nd, K, and your family has a new baby on the way.)

            Therefore ...

            Needed: Independent strategies for increasing understanding and retention of material, both non-fiction (history, science) and literature.


            First, you will need to see whether she is interested in improving her ability to remember the material she studies. Craft questions similar to these, but created for her own goals. If she wants help, here are some tried-and-true suggestions you can give her to strengthen her ability to learn, understand, and remember. Some will involve your initial teaching and occasional coaching, but the investment will help her move forward, rather than feeling "stuck" where she is.


            1. Audio Books
            As OH suggested, finding audio versions of the material can be a great help, even for our students with auditory processing issues. This can be a place to start. See this thread, if you did not already.

            2. Lower-Level Books for Content
            Assign good, rich content, but at a lower level. See Week 3 of this series, if you have not already watched it. Determine her Independent Reading level. (This will be lower than her Instructional Level. See the full explanation with examples in Simply Classical.)

            3. Highlighting & Note Taking
            Teach her "main idea" and "theme." Help her learn to highlight her books, if you allow this, or teach her to write notes in a companion spiral notebook for the book she is reading. In literature, she should create her own Dramatis Personae for each book she reads. A running list of characters with names, traits, descriptions, and actions will help her recall when she returns to the book for the next chapter(s).

            4. Illustrating & Engaging
            For her next literature assignment, obtain a Composition & Sketchbook. Have her illustrate scenes she especially enjoys. Then have her write a few sentences about the characters, setting, action, or her own impressions. Illustrations help with retention of material, partly because she is actively engaged with the book, and partly because she will have her own visual record for reference.

            5. Over-Learning
            Impress upon her that once will never be enough for her, when it comes to reading. With ADD, processing issues, and dyslexia, over-learning is essential. She will need to live and breathe an assigned book to truly "know" it. For this, you will need to ...

            6. Dive Deeply into One or Two Good Books
            Rather than assign a big list over the year, select one or two, as OH described. If one can be a family read, that would be even better, but if not, you will teach her to select one GOOD book and plan to spend lots and lots of time with that one book: notes in the margin, illustrating, highlighting, re-reading, listening to it on audio book, writing reviews or reports from its pages, and even engaging artistically -- creating a song or poem or sequel or alternate ending or newly painted cover. For non-fiction, she can sculpt with clay or design a timeline or create an outline or prepare a presentation with illustrations to present to her younger siblings or write her own tests. If she does not yet have a visual timeline, so she knows where historical events "fit" across time, consider this Timeline Program. She can add cards to it from 7th-12th, as she studies. Your daughter will need to learn how to over-learn, so everything stays in her mind more readily. You can give yourself the freedom to assign less in quantity, but give her the tools to learn more deeply.


            7. Optimize Exercise & Nutrition
            If she is not already actively exercising in some way most days, have her begin. Explain that having her body and mind functioning at "peak performance" will help her studies, help her mood, and make her a stronger young lady in every way. Minimize sugar, starches, and focus on good protein, fruits & veggies -- all of it matters.

            8. Use Mnemonics
            She might be helped by creating acrostics, rhymes, or her own songs for her content areas, like history and science. You can teach her to do this. My two (SLDs, ADD, processing issues) used simple, sometimes silly, acrostics and other mnemonics in grammar, math, Latin, and more. They help!

            9. Retrain her mind.
            If she has bad, distracting mental habits (e.g., multi-tasking through continual texting, FB, tv, lots of movies), help her curb these. At night, have her put away electronic/blue light devices after dinner. Assign the audio version of her literature as bedtime listening. By listening to the material again at night, she is 1) creating good study habits, 2) creating good lifetime literature habits, and 3) improving her memory and retention.


            I hope something here helps. If not, feel free to follow up --

            Thanks!

            Cheryl

            Comment


              #7
              Re: Retention / Comprehension Issue

              Thank you so much! I will implement these.

              Comment

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