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Comprehension and Text Structure: Improve

Preschoolers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to support children in understanding narrative structure through storytelling, retelling, and asking and answering questions about a book that was read aloud is important work. Here are some ideas you can try with your coach or supervisor to build your teaching practices in this area:

Planning Goals and Action Steps

  • Work with your coach or supervisor to identify the teaching practices you want to build and strengthen. Here are some practices that help preschoolers understand narrative structure through storytelling, retelling, and asking and answering questions about a book that was read aloud.1
    • Read (and re-read!) stories every day. Respond to children’s comments and questions, ask open-ended questions, and share your thinking about the story and characters.
    • Plan how to support story reading with comments, questions, and ways to use illustrations that aid children’s understanding.
    • Explain the meanings of new words in books and stories using child-friendly language.
    • After reading the story, ask questions that prompt children to think and use language, resulting in back-and-forth discussions.
    • Explain the difference between narrative story books and information books.
    • Use information books as resources for math, science, social studies, creative arts activities, and other hands-on experiences.
    • Model authentic uses of information text in a variety of forms (e.g., brochures, newspaper ads, recipes, and shopping lists).
  • These practices may also be used to support dual language learners (DLLs) in continuing to develop their home language and to acquire English. For more information, see:
  • In home-based programs, consider identifying and including broader relationship-building practices such as those described in Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.
  • Create an action plan with timelines to help you use the practices consistently and effectively.

Focused Observation

  • Revisit the teaching practice that you outlined in your planning goals and action steps with your coach/supervisor. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where they can focus on how you implement the practices you’ve identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, After reading the story, ask questions that prompt children to think and use language, resulting in back-and-forth discussions, you might ask your coach/supervisor to observe and record your story reading so that, together, you can note your efforts to ask questions. The two of you can focus on how well your questioning prompted discussion and whether that discussion resulted in back-and-forth conversational exchanges with children.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how the home visitor engages with parents to identify, adapt, and use the identified teaching and relationship-building practices. They may also focus on how you model the practices.

Reflection and Feedback

  • What went well? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? How did their reaction support the relationship with their child? Their child’s ability to understand narrative structure through storytelling, retelling, and asking and answering questions about a book that was read aloud?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • Did your coach/supervisor offer feedback from the observation that was surprising? What supports do you need from her to refine and strengthen the practice? What else would help you strengthen the practice?
  • What would you do differently if you were to use this practice again?
  • What do you hope the child/children/parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

1California Department of Education, California Preschool Curriculum Framework Volume 1 (Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education, 2010), 148–150, Comprehension and Analysis of Age-Appropriate Texts, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/documents/psframeworkkvol1.pdf.

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: June 3, 2018