Thanks as always to our super reviewer Joanna Culleton for examining this set of books for Mash. You can purchase this series on the Prim-Ed website: www.prim-ed.com
Like many teachers, I have always been a big fan of the Prim-Ed Comprehension and Cloze Procedure books. When Rozz asked me to review these new Prim-Ed Comprehension through Cloze books, I presumed the new series was a remodel of some of the older schemes that many teachers still use religiously! Well, I was absolutely delighted with the fantastic surprise I got, when I actually opened the book and explored the programme.
The new Prim-Ed publications are called, ‘Comprehension Through Cloze’ and there is a book for each class level, 1st through 6th Class. Each book has a range of lexile levelled passages – First Class starts with lexile 10L to 200L and its highest level is 410L – 600L, while the 6th Class text includes a text with lexile level 810L – 1000l and ranges to 1410L – 1600L. (More information on Lexile levels on www.lexile.com) You can find a correlation chart to match lexile levels to PM levels on line with a quick Google search.
The teacher notes section in each book is laid out the same and includes very valuable information. The notes section includes an informative short paragraph on each of the nine comprehension strategies listed below (this is the same in each book). It also includes a very usable Scope and Sequence grid, which lays out the strategy being worked on in each text. Finally, the text overview chart includes a list of each text, its word count, lexile ranking and links to other curricular areas. This, I found, to be an excellent way to match the children to the appropriate passage and embed the skill development in other subjects such as SESE.
Each book is broken down into individual units based around a specific passage. Each unit comprises an illustration and text, a second illustration with small changes and a cloze procedure and finally a range of eight activities: before reading, during reading and after reading activities. The reading activities work towards developing one of the nine comprehension strategies (prediction, visualising, making connections, question, clarifying/declunking, summarising, determining importance, inferring and synthesising). I loved that the comprehension skills tied in nicely to the Building Bridges programme that I already use for comprehension development with my class.
Another aspect that I particularly loved with the programme is that each text (at every class level) is given a word count and a lexile level (I double checked some of the texts on www.lexile.com, there were some small variations but generally in line with the lexile website). This ranking can be used to match the children to a text that they can fully engage with at their level, and really focus on the strategy being developed. Having a measure like this, can also be used as a tangible tool to monitor the progress and success of the programme if it is being used as an SET intervention.
While I think the resource is fantastic, it would still be important that the teacher introduces and underpins each strategy with high-quality picture books and texts, provides authentic opportunity for oral language and meaningful interaction with the strategies in a dialogic classroom environment. Once the children have moved through the ‘I do-We do-You do’ approach and experience plenty of learning opportunities rich in oral language and collaboration learning each strategy, then they would benefit from engaging with targeted units from the scheme. They would be able to work through the activities successfully and enrich their learning independently. It would be ideal to supplement the teaching of the comprehension strategies.
When we return to school, I plan to use the programme with my Third Class in a variety of ways, initially as an informal assessment tool to measure their lexile levels and also to consolidate work at the independent stage of my lessons in teaching specific comprehension strategies. Each unit will require the children to demonstrate their comprehension through responding to the text with drawing activities, cloze procedure and then the levelled questions. This will suit my class as there is a wide range of learning styles and ability levels. There is a huge amount to cover in each unit, but I will rotate between me choosing the activities and allowing the children the choice. It wouldn’t be necessary or feasible to complete each activity in every unit.
If you are a class-teacher or a long-term substitute teacher thinking of investing their own money (€24.95 per book), firstly check out the preview of the books on the Prim-Ed website. Make sure you can envisage how you would use the scheme and if the activities will fit with your whole school plan, your own teaching approaches and the needs of your class. If you are unsure of what level to go for, the 2nd or 3rd Class book would be a good place to start.
So all in all, I would recommend this resource to:
- A school that has already invested in plenty of high quality picture books and reading materials such as those on the Building Bridges scheme
- A class teacher who has access to a wide range of high quality books for teaching comprehension and is looking for a good quality scheme to supplement their whole school approach for comprehension
- A SET teacher looking to find a programme to supplement the teaching of comprehension strategies
Comprehension through Close is €24.95 per book and is available from www.prim-ed.com