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Good afternoon!


So my DD12 has some diagnosed LDs (most of you that have been here for awhile know me, but I only pop in every so often, lol).  Her LDs are mostly math-related and, at that, they come down to a difficulty with critical thinking, problem solving and spatial weaknesses.  


She has always held her own in Language Arts.  Learning to read was not really a struggle for her.  Reading comprehension was ok.   But, she's in 6th grade and she has definitely fallen off in terms of reading comp.  Identifying setting is seriously difficult for her.  My kids read at least two chapter books a month (this is for free-time reading and is in addition to our LA curriculum).  They have to complete a reading response/book report for each.  One of the questions is on setting.


She just finished "Where the Red Fern Grows" and her answer was, "In the spring."  I prompted for more and got, "In the spring and winter".  I reminded her what setting means, and she added, "in 1981".  A little more prompting resulted in "in Cherokee country".  *facepalm*  


ALL of her reading responses are like this.  She really seems to struggle with picking out the setting details.  And honestly, her summary of the conflict (or even just a basic summary of the book) is pretty poor too.  


Any suggestions/resources to help work on this?  We are using Mosdos Pearl for 6th grade and the comprehension questions are definitely a bit of a stretch for her.  I'm thinking of bringing her back a couple of grade levels for comprehension purposes, but am not entirely sold on the idea because she can read at grade level.  


Thoughts?  Suggestions?

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Maybe I'm missing something, but this doesn't sound like a comprehension problem--it sounds like she needs some scaffolding with answering questions about setting (or whatever).


I don't know how you format your book report assignments, but instead of asking "What is the setting?" I'd say this:


Identify the setting by answering the following questions:


Where does the book take place? What country/state/city? What is the geography like? Is it in the mountains? The desert? The swamp? 


When does the book take place?  What year/time period?  What time of year?


Now, using your answers to the above questions, write a sentence that describes the book's setting.  


I would also consider preparing book report questions that are specific to each book.  Sometimes it's hard to identify one setting.  Also, until she has this down, you might want to discuss the things she needs to include in her report and (you) take notes about them (I used to do this on a small whiteboard which I then propped up on the desk in front of the child).



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The series How to Report on Books, Grades 3-4 - Teacher Resource, Print has various grade levels and goes through all your elements in a scaffolded, gentle progression. It gives books for each lesson, so you have plenty of prime material to explore the concepts. I linked 3-4, but I would go forward/backward depending on what fits her. It's NOT CRAZY to back up to a gr 1-2 and use picture books. Picture books can be a GREAT way to explore complex concepts, because they're brief, obvious, and not intimidating. 


I also think it's not clear in your example whether she has a language disability or doesn't understand the term or what. 


I agree, continuing forward in a reading curriculum that is not providing intervention for her comprehension issues doesn't quite make sense. If she's reading but not comprehending, um, at some point you have to decide where you're putting your effort. My money is on comprehension.


From Evan Moor, I like (and all of these are series, so they have lots of levels)


books in their Reading and Understand series like Read and Understand: Tall Tales, Grades 3-4 - Teacher Reproducibles, E-book

Text-Based Writing, Grade 4 - Teacher's Edition, E-book

Reading Paired Text, Grade 4 - Teacher's Edition, E-book


From Teacher Created Resources

Nonfiction and Fiction Paired Texts Grade 4

Mastering Complex Text Using Multiple Reading Sources Grade 4

Comprehending Text Using Literal, Inferential & Applied Questioning Grade 4

Graphic Organizers, Grades 4-8

Nonfiction Reading Comprehension: Informational Reading, Grade 4


From Carson-Dellosa (probably my favorite place these days)

Cause & Effect Resource Book Grades 3–4 / Ages 8–10 $4.99 Print $4.99 eBook

Compare & Contrast Resource Book Grades 3–4 / Ages 8–10 $4.99 Print $4.99 eBook

Differentiated Reading for Comprehension Resource Book Grade 4 / Ages 9–10 $9.99 Print $9.99 eBook

Evidence-Based Reading Workbook Grade 4 / Ages 9–10 $9.99 Print $9.99 eBook

Paired Passages Workbook Grade 4 / Ages 9–10 $9.99 Print $9.99 eBook

Story Elements Resource Book Grades 3–4 / Ages 8–10 $4.99 Print $4.99 eBook

Summarizing Resource Book Grades 3–4 / Ages 8–10 $4.99 Print $4.99 eBook

Inferring Resource Book Grades 3–4 / Ages 8–10 $4.99 Print $4.99 eBook


Like I said, I LOVE some of this Carson Dellosa stuff. The 4 part SpotLight on Reading series that hits inferencing, summarizing, compare/contrast, cause effect is AWESOME. I really like their paired fiction/non-fiction books. Everything I buy tends to either have multiple choice or wh-question comprehension questions that I scribe for him. Tons of language, tons of thinking. You have her decoding, but you're going to want to back up and figure out where she is in these skills. And maybe it really is as simple as not understanding what setting is. For that, you just say say hey, that just means where did it happen, draw me a picture of where it happened. 


It does sound like more is glitchy and that you'll uncover more areas of challenge as you start to use materials that are aimed a bit more at intervention. Like if you went looking for intervention materials, they would have tiers. The stuff I'm linking, like the Spotlight on Reading series, is more detailed than what you'd maybe bother with for a typical child, but it's not *marked* as intervention materials or billed that way. It's definitely not considered tier 3 intervention or something. But if you read the reviews, you'll find Intervention Specialists saying yes, they use it for intervention. And when I bring Intervention Specialists in my home and show them what I'm using, they're saying yes, this is the kind of stuff we use a lot. Some would write custom. Like some IS would literally write or find models of interest to the child and on the developmental level of the child and then write the comprehension questions to fit their needs. Mercifully, I've been able to find materials for my ds that do that. These are places where I'm finding them. I spend a lot of time looking at each item, each grade, till I find things I think will interest him. For my ds, these things are not busywork but are actually helping him think and engage. He does them without complaint. He does need support (popcorn reading, scribing, etc.), but really some of these products are quite nice. But it takes time to look through options and look at samples. I might use grade 1 in one series and gr 4 in another. Like seriously, I'm doing that right now. I select things very carefully, print, and he never sees the grade level to know. I'm even using a gr 3 in one product (non-fiction social studies reading comprehension) and a gr 4 in the science reading comprehension of the SAME SERIES! He's more knowledgeable on science, and the higher grade level was more engaging to him. Both have questions that make him think. It's a good stretch, very careful. Works for us.


Yup, just checked, and where I'm using 3 and 4 for the reading comprehension those products are from Teacher Created Resources, probably in the list of links above.


I found some differentiated reading products at Scholastic that I really liked. One uses primary sources. It's way cool, cuz you bust through grade level by making it so interesting. That way you can go back and target where she is with comprehension but keep it engaging. So with that, I think maybe I bought the gr 1 book and I use the top level writing models. The questions are the same for all. It fits his level of language, makes him think, and the differentiated models make it easy to make it fit him. 

Search Our Catalog | Carson-Dellosa Publishing

Nope, I was wrong, it's Carson Dellosa again, lol. Told you I'm crazy for them! I think I'm using the grade 2. They have books through grade 8, so you won't run out. So the gr2 in this is quite challenging, but he blows through the gr4 science reading, go figure. 


What that means is I can bring in sneaky reading comprehension work over and over throughout the day. I have it during our science time, during our LA time, etc. You could slide the Primary Sources workbooks into your history time. 




Edited by PeterPan
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Sweetpea, I'm sure you have addressed this in other threads, but I can't remember -- does your daughter have an ASD diagnosis or a NVLD profile? I ask, because reading comprehension issues can go along with ASD and/or NVLD.

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You wrote that she has a spatial weakness.

Though spatial thinking, is what we use to form comprehension.

While we can represent thoughts/ ideas with words and images.

It is spatial thinking, that can organise them in ways that establish relationships between.

The structure that is created, is what we know as comprehension.


With spatial difficulties, 'mind-mapping' programs can be very helpful.

As they provide a visual way of organising thoughts and ideas.


Something that you could try, to help with this?  Is the Kidspiration software program?

Here's a link where you can download and try it out for free, for 30 days:


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Or it can indicate she's not visualizing while she's reads. That kind of person usually needs vision therapy and then visualizing instruction from LMB.


Geodob is right that many kids with ADHD, SLDs, etc. are incredibly visual and spatial, so it's noteworthy when someone is in that mix and *not*. If she hasn't had evals for the SLDs and by a developmental optometrist, it's worth pursuing to make sure you have the right explanations. Without that, you don't know what portion is visual processing, language, etc. 

Edited by PeterPan
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At that age, my DS used to summarize every 1-2 chapters that he was reading with 3 sentences. These sentences were basic plot summaries of the chapters. For story elements such as characterizations and setting, he used mindmapping as Geodob described. DS drew picture notes in the margins, and he completed projects from the book that Peter Pan described.


Prior to reading, explain what info you are looking for. Afterwards, sit down and use Socratic questions. Mindmapping with Inspiration on the iPad is awesome. I’ve done this with both my kids. We get comfortable on the couch, and I ask them questions. I enter the info and build the map on the iPad as we discuss. The iPad uses Siri, so my DD can add more info to the map using speech to text.


I also demonstrate how to convert the map into an outline. My DD then transfers all that info into a Word document.

Edited by Heathermomster

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Thanks for the advice folks!  All excellent information!


Regarding the NVLD...this is on my radar.  I'm hoping to have this confirmed or ruled out by the spring.  She definitely has some of the typical signs of it

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As part of your evals, you might get an SLP eval. Are you going with the ps or privately? Are they going to run an ADOS as well? 

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Sweetpea, I want to respond more to your thread, but I am juggling some other things in life at the moment. I'll try to write more in the next day or two. In the meantime, you might do a search of LC threads about comprehension, or just scroll back through the pages until you see threads that discuss it. I'll try to pop back in soon.

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Between the LC board and some private groups, it seems like the theme of the week is hitting middle-school and having language arts fall apart!


We are right there.


While my son's reading level is considered post-high school, he reads like a 5th grader for fun and any kind of even mild literature analysis. He's actually in 8th grade. He's gifted but has ASD and ADHD. His comprehension when someone is explaining things or talking things aloud for extended periods of time is fine, but not at all what it is on his own. Our last round of testing broadened to include some very specific (and revealing) language testing:


Test of Narrative Language 2

Test of Problem Solving 2


How it relates to academic success:


We are using Mosdos Coral with the workbook, but my son still needs scaffolding for some of the textbook questions. He also thinks half are stupid, largely because he absolutely hates answering open-ended questions, particularly if he has to make a prediction. Sigh. 

We also use The Reader's Handbook alongside Mosdos for some things, and my son has a tutor and SLP working with him on LA tasks. If you think the series would be useful, I recommend getting multiple levels of the RH as they tend to build, and sometimes curriculums not keyed to it will have something you need from a higher level while your kid is actually working on a lower level most of the time--it's very easy to grab something from an upper level as you see a need. They are super cheap used on Amazon. They correlate to a series called The Daybook of Critical Reading and Writing (or something like that). My son will probably never be able to use it even at the 5th or 6th grade level. But those are also available used for relatively little money. You basically apply the RH techniques to passages in the daybook, and you can write directly in the book, which contains the reading passages as well.


I mention both series because they do offer some start at typical scaffolding offered in school (even if a specific school uses a different related method). If she's not able to do things with the RH, then I would really want to be sure to do some digging with language testing and additional diagnoses. I think you could justify that with what you've said anyway, but if you think scaffolding would make a difference, those are some ready made and inexpensive resources that have reading selections that correlate. I do not like having to try to match resources with materials when we're already frustrated, lol!

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Sweetpea, I'm going to throw out some ideas that we (meaning his school intervention team, as well as us as home) use with DS13, who has NVLD and SLD reading comprehension.


DS13 can understand a straightforward, linear narrative. He can often tell what happened in the plot. However, he gets tripped up by figurative language, flashbacks, unfamiliar vocabulary, lack of background knowledge, inference, and some character relationships. He tends to remember details that interest him -- for example, what a character had for lunch -- so if you question him, it may seem that he is really remembering what he read. But he does not make the connections that help him to intuitively understand the overall meaning of the text. He may remember what the main character does, but he cannot tell you what the significance or meaning of it is.


At younger ages, fiction tends to be more straightforward. We found that he hit trouble around the third grade reading level, when plots, character, themes, and story structure become more complex.


At school, he is currently in a grade level language arts class, so he completes the grade-level work. His IEP comprehension goals, however, are set at a lower level. He is in 7th, and his goals are set for 6th grade material this year, which means in his intervention time, his special ed teacher works with him on selections at that lower reading level to teach skills. He happens to be in a private school that offers a lot of intervention, and he also gets help from his intervention teacher with his regular classwork.


Some of the intervention methods that we use with him and that have had good results include:


* Reading each selection multiple times. He reads it with his class, reads it aloud with his intervention teacher, and listens to an audio version, as well. Usually I also read it aloud to him at home, and I stop to explain all vocabulary, figurative language, inference, etc.


* Pre-load the vocabulary and background knowledge. Learning the vocab words before reading the text makes a big difference. An example of background knowledge is that when DS had to read some selections about the Titanic last year, his intervention teacher brought in many other resources about the Titanic to help him understand what was going on.


* Highlighting the main idea in a paragraph. His intervention teacher says she starts off every session with him by having him practice finding the main idea and then the details in whatever reading selection they are working on. This is a distinction that comes naturally to NT kids his age, but he has to work at it.


* These issues also affect his writing, when he is meant to research or collect facts and collate them into a paragraph or essay. Because he doesn't automatically see connections between the ideas. He can memorize facts and spit them back out, but he has trouble connecting them together to compare or contract them (for example).


My favorite book of ideas for reading comprehension is,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch


The general idea is that when comprehension skills lag, strategies for understanding the text have to be taught explicitly to the student. And they have to learn to use those strategies themselves. This is a tricky thing, because often students won't use the skills if a teacher is not assigning them to (DS13 has this problem -- he will highlight the main idea, for example, only when the teacher tells him to).


I hope that is helpful. DS13 has improved his explicit comprehension over the last few years. He really can't understand inference, no matter how much they work on it. Which will become a bigger issue with each increase in difficulty as he gets older, because the kind of literature used in high school English classes is always going to be hard for him.


Auditory input makes a big difference for him. He understands a lot more when he listens to an audio version or has a selection read aloud.


I hope that is helpful. Reading comprehension is a tough disability to tackle.

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CAPs Reasoning and reading series are really good for building up comprehension skills,


Don Potter also has a good free resource. It is written for ESL students, but good for anyone who struggles with comprehension. It is in both Spanish and English, keep scrolling through and it will change back to English.


Also, make sure the reading abilities are at least 2 grades above level and no guessing, check nonsense word reading abilities and grade level with the tests on my syllable page.

Edited by ElizabethB

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