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The Many Requirements for Good Comprehension






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October 16, 2014


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The Many Requirements for Good Comprehension


Excerpt From "The Roadmap From Reading Failure to Success" 

By Kathy Johnson, MS Ed

To be published December, 2014



The ultimate goal in reading is of course, comprehension - the memory and understanding of what has been read. It is not a given that a person who can read words gets meaning from those words. Comprehension involves many factors.



The reader must be able to decode effortlessly. The ability to decode requires good visual memory of the letters and their corresponding sounds, as well as the ability to put them together correctly into the correct word. If this process is laborious, the brain has little energy and attention left over for remembering what was read.


I worked with one little girl in fourth grade who could remember very well all concepts in the history chapter when it was read to her. There was one instance where I had her go through a chapter stopping to decode the words she did not know. At the end of the chapter, I read the first comprehension question to her. She asked to see the book, and I asked why. "Because I read the chapter, but I don't remember it". 


Some things that may contribute to poor decoding skills may be low working memory, poor auditory memory, or poor visual memory.



A reader may be able to decode words well, yet still may not be fluent and able to remember what was read. Some of the contributing factors to poor fluency may be slow processing speed, poor rapid automatic naming (RAN) and poor vision. Working memory is at play here as well, since the reader must be able to hold the beginning of the sentence in memory while reading to the end of the sentence in order to fully comprehend it.



Most people remember what they read by creating a movie in their head. If they are good at visualizing, that movie might also be in vibrant colors and have wonderful sound. Other people remember the words, the story, the feelings attached, but don't have a movie. I do not know how to teach the second type of memory, but visualization can be easily taught.



Many people do not have the vocabulary to understand the passages they are required to read, leading to poor comprehension. I was working with a 6th grade girl who had had poor auditory abilities all of her life. We corrected this, as well as helping on the other issues in this book. Because of the auditory problems, she did not acquire an age-appropriate vocabulary, so I told her to ask someone safe (not her peers) for the definition anytime she did not know a word. I was not going to ask her to look it up in a dictionary and write it down, as she was 12 years old and probably would never do it! besides, she had a lot of vocabulary to catch up on and we needed to fill that bucket as quickly as we could.


One day we were reading along and she came across the word, "irrigation". She sounded it out, and said "irrigation". I asked her if she knew what it meant and she said "yes". She continued to read and stopped at the word "ditch" and asked what it meant. 


Although I was surprised at how rudimentary her vocabulary was, I immediately told her, and knew that she needed to learn as much new vocabulary as possible in a short time, now that she had good auditory processing and good auditory memory.


Logic and Reasoning

A person who does not have good logic and reasoning is also called a "concrete thinker". They only know the exact information that they are given and cannot deduce beyond it. If you give them comprehension questions after a paragraph, the wording must be the same, because they cannot interpret into different language.


In fourth grade we introduce metaphors, similes, and symbolism which means nothing to the concrete thinker. In order to comprehend and understand, this cognitive skill must be present. Thankfully, it is teachable.


Auditory learner

Some people remember better when they read out loud versus reading silently. Unfortunately, testing is done silently, putting this person at a disadvantage.


Once all of the various issues mentioned above have been dealt with, the reader has excellent abilities!! The ability to read, remember and understand articles, books and other fine literature makes for a rich experience, not just in school, but also in life.



Did You Know?
Reading Comprehension Games
Learning how to read English is only the beginning for children. Just because a child knows how to read words doesn't mean he understands what he is reading. Reading games for kids encourage understanding, more than just knowing how to read words correctly. Reading comprehension games allow children to better grasp what they are reading instead of mindlessly reading the words with no idea of what they mean. The goal is to help children truly understand what they read, which is a useful skill as they move ahead in life.

Online Comprehension Games
As your child works through interactive comprehension games, they will learn more about what various words mean and how to determine meaning based on the context in which words are found. By using fun games, your child will learn how to be a better reader without knowing they are working hard. Being able to learn through play allows your child to more fully grasp concepts without feeling overwhelmed by them.

Read and Answer
Reading games for kids require children of all ages to read through a short story. These stories are written at a variety of skill levels to ensure every child can find one to read. The interactive comprehension games go on to ask questions based on what the child has just read. Being able to answer these questions correctly ensures your child is building his reading comprehension skills, which are necessary to succeed in the later years of school.

To find out more about Reading Comprehension Games and to play these games follow this link:


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Kathy Johnson, MS Ed

Bob Johnson

Pyramid of Potential
245 Washington St #3369
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Where's Kathy?

It is now time to set up your professional development at your school - Kathy is available for many dates this Fall! Call now to secure YOUR date!


Below are the upcoming workshops that Kathy Johnson is giving. If she is not coming to your area, why not hire her for your next professional development?


Kathy Johnson is speaking at the following conferences. More information can be found at

  Kathy Johnson Photo 2010



"Maybe We Should Teach the Way They Learn"
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 

New York, NY


"Supporting ALL Diverse Learners in the Classroom"
Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Coconut Creek, FL



"Towards Successful Inclusive Classroom Environments"
Sunday, February 8, 2015 at 12:00pm through 

Monday, February 9, 2015 at 5:30pm
Teaneck, NJ



Monday, December 08, 2014 in BUFFALO, NY 
Early Registration: $189.99
** Early Registration Prices Available Until 11/18/2014 **

Tuesday, December 09, 2014 in ROCHESTER, NY 
Early Registration: $189.99
** Early Registration Prices Available Until 11/19/2014 **

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 in SYRACUSE, NY 
Early Registration: $189.99
** Early Registration Prices Available Until 11/20/2014 **

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 in MERRILLVILLE, IN 
Early Registration: $189.99
** Early Registration Prices Available Until 1/8/2015 **

Thursday, January 29, 2015 in FORT WAYNE, IN 
Early Registration: $189.99
** Early Registration Prices Available Until 1/9/2015 **

Friday, January 30, 2015 in CARMEL, IN 
Early Registration: $189.99
** Early Registration Prices Available Until 1/10/2015 **

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 in MISSOULA, MT 
Early Registration: $189.99
** Early Registration Prices Available Until 2/5/2015 **

Thursday, February 26, 2015 in BUTTE, MT 
Early Registration: $189.99
** Early Registration Prices Available Until 2/6/2015 **



If you aren't near any of these on-site professional development conferences, consider the following:


Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: An Integrated Approach   Price: $169.99  Author: Kathy Johnson, MS Ed.  Format: DVD



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