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    #29707 - 11/06/08 08:25 AM Reading comprehension and retelling
    kcab Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/02/07
    Posts: 1603
    Loc: Sparta, apparently
    My DS6's school assesses reading level using DRA, and my understanding is that they need to retell the story for their comprehension to be scored. He's reading well, and certainly seems to have great comprehension as far as I can tell, but is unable to retell these stories for the assessment. His teacher also thinks his comprehension is very good, she's a bit stuck because she feels that she can't get a valid assessment on him. (As an aside, his teacher seems absolutely great! I'm glad she's working hard to figure this out. And, I am thrilled that she's been pretesting math and will be giving him meatier work.)

    Anyway, when I say he can't retell, it sounds like that means he cannot/will not retell at all. He told his teacher that he knows the story, it's all in a corner of his head and he can't get it out. Anybody have any idea what could be going on and how to get him unstuck?

    I've been wondering if it has something to do with VS vs sequential. It sounds similar to what happens to me sometimes with ideas or writing projects - I've got it all in my head, but it's there in a flash and can be hard to pin down and communicate to others. I thought I'd seen posts about this somewhere here, but haven't turned up anything in my searches.

    TIA!
    _________________________
    kcab

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    #29708 - 11/06/08 08:57 AM Re: Reading comprehension and retelling [Re: kcab]
    Kriston Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    Can she ask him questions? Sometimes that really helps. My possibly/probably VS learner (?) has a hard time getting started sometimes, but once he has a question or two to get him started, he can get on a roll and really tell the story quite clearly and sequentially.

    Some of it might also be that your DS isn't good yet at discriminating between important details and unimportant ones, and trying to retell every word of a 50-page book (or whatever) is pretty daunting! Summarizing exercises might help.

    Just off the top of my head...
    _________________________
    Kriston
    Mom to DS13 and DS10

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    #29709 - 11/06/08 09:12 AM Re: Reading comprehension and retelling [Re: kcab]
    ebeth Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/08/08
    Posts: 412
    That is a very interesting question, kcab. My DS8 is a very Visual-Spacial kid. He reads and comprehends exceedingly well, and always does well on his school's Star Reading tests, which is a computerized test to demonstrate reading comprehension by asking very detailed questions about a story. Star Reading tests seem to be measuring accurate memory of certain key parts of the story to deduce reading comprehension.

    However, if they had asked my DS to retell the story, then I suspect that a "bottleneck" would occur. All of the ideas would swim around in his brain and fight at the same time to get out. Telling a story is a very sequential process, which is difficult sometime when you learn ideas as whole concepts. It may also be that he has stored the concept or memory of the story in the form of pictures in his mind, and to translate the story back into words is difficult. This could be a significant difference to the Star Reading test where the child is asked a specific question such as "What is the color of Johnny's new bike that he got for Christmas?" Here the child's reading comprehension is measured by his memory of the color of the bike, for which visual kids would excel.

    The only thing that I can suggest is from a conversation with my DS's 4th grade teacher. When he was struggling to write a book report on a story, which again a very sequential process, we suggested that the teacher ask him to do a "mind dump" on a separate piece of paper. We told the teacher that when all of those ideas are swimming around in DS's brain, the problem occurs when he is trying to catch them and organize them before putting them down on paper. We made the analogy of turning a faucet on, and all of the water rushing to get out at once. But for DS, the water is something solid instead of something that flows. It easily gets into traffic jams and road blocks. If he just randomly writes down all of the ideas as they occur in his brain (or getting the words to flow out onto the paper), then he can look back at his sentences and organize them later. DS's problem is to get the flow started. I have not heard back from her on how this is working (or not?), but she seemed excited by the idea at the time.


    Edited by ebeth (11/06/08 09:14 AM)
    _________________________
    Mom to DS12 and DD3

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    #29710 - 11/06/08 09:17 AM Re: Reading comprehension and retelling [Re: ebeth]
    ebeth Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/08/08
    Posts: 412
    Ahhh, Kriston. Our boys are so much alike!
    _________________________
    Mom to DS12 and DD3

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    #29713 - 11/06/08 09:32 AM Re: Reading comprehension and retelling [Re: ebeth]
    kcab Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/02/07
    Posts: 1603
    Loc: Sparta, apparently
    Yes! I think you're both spot-on. I'm fairly sure that DS6 would do great at a test that asked him questions on what he'd read. I think the teacher is limited in the questions she can ask with this assessment, but I'll suggest just asking him what happened first. Sometimes at home he is at a loss for where to start something, then just takes off if I ask him what the first step is.

    OK, this is good, this is making sense with what I see here.

    And, funny, I've used that same writing technique for myself, ebeth. If I can just get something down, anything down, then I can go back and rearrange later.
    _________________________
    kcab

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    #29714 - 11/06/08 09:38 AM Re: Reading comprehension and retelling [Re: kcab]
    Kriston Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    It's called a freewrite in the writing parlance, kcab, where you just write down everything that you can think of. It's a very valid and useful way to get started. I used freewriting with my college classes for pretty much every assignment. It really helps.

    (Or, if the freewrite is pretty good, it's called a first draft.) wink
    _________________________
    Kriston
    Mom to DS13 and DS10

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    #29715 - 11/06/08 09:39 AM Re: Reading comprehension and retelling [Re: Dottie]
    kcab Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/02/07
    Posts: 1603
    Loc: Sparta, apparently
    Oops, didn't see your post, Dottie. LOL, I think my DD11 has done the same thing. The struggle with mine has always been getting her to summarize (please!!!!). Maybe I'll have to get her to specifically coach DS6 on the finer details. I think there's something funny going on though and he'll need other help figuring out how to start the retell.
    _________________________
    kcab

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    #29719 - 11/06/08 09:50 AM Re: Reading comprehension and retelling [Re: Dottie]
    kcab Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/02/07
    Posts: 1603
    Loc: Sparta, apparently
    I've wondered about the story level too, Dottie. Originally I thought that was the main issue, I know I tune out when reading aloud books that bore me! I do think the books are far below his interest level, the ones that have come home are the typical one boring sentence per page, very predictable plot variety. I don't know the actual level number though.

    But then, DS's description of the story being stuck in his head sounds to me that he does know what happened in it.

    edited to add: He might just think the whole assessment is unimportant. It didn't occur to him to tell me about it at all, though he did tell me about several other things from that day.


    Edited by kcab (11/06/08 09:53 AM)
    _________________________
    kcab

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    #29720 - 11/06/08 09:54 AM Re: Reading comprehension and retelling [Re: Dottie]
    ebeth Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/08/08
    Posts: 412
    Oh Dottie. I would love to hire out your DD11!! Would she like to visit scenic Ohio or can she transmit the info by computer? LOL!

    We are having the same problem in 7th grade science, in that the last two questions on the exams are essay problems. DS8 does wonderfully well on the whole exam, but always loses some points on those essay questions! On the last test, the teacher asked, "If scientists killed all of the bacteria on the planet, what would happen?" DS knew a great deal of information on this, but he only wrote that the good bacteria would be killed as well and things would not would not break down. When I asked him if he included something about the Nitrogen Cycle, he rolled his eyes and said that the teacher *knew* that he knew that. They had studied that for the past 3... whole.... weeks! <said with an 8 year old exaggerated attitude!> Why would he put something on the test that his teacher knew that he knew? Tests, to him, are about measuring something that he knows beyond the given knowledge! I need to somehow explain to him that some kids can sit there through those 3 long weeks and may not remember any of the lessons, and her tests are designed to figure out which kids know the material and which kids don't. Those easy bull sh or retelling points are what he is missing!

    Sorry to go off on a tangent, kcab! I think that this is different than the "bottleneck" issue? Perhaps? But maybe not. Maybe it is a matter of getting the right bits of data to come out on a test. Maybe is it as Kriston suggested, a matter of discriminating the important facts from the non-important facts. My DS is just labeling most of his science teacher's lessons as obvious, and hence non-important.
    _________________________
    Mom to DS12 and DD3

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    #29722 - 11/06/08 10:03 AM Re: Reading comprehension and retelling [Re: ebeth]
    kcab Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/02/07
    Posts: 1603
    Loc: Sparta, apparently
    LOL! I can just imagine the 8-yo attitude. I think it is relevant, ebeth. DS had a math pre-test yesterday too, at least I think that's what it was, and told me after school that if he leaves an answer blank that means the teacher will need to teach him that thing. He didn't realize this on the first pre-test ... this led to somewhat different results

    So much of school is just figuring out what it is people want from you!
    _________________________
    kcab

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