The Missing Link in Reading Comprehension

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This is a podcast episode titled, The Missing Link in Reading Comprehension. The summary for this episode is: <p>Learn about comprehension processes and understand how to explicitly teach them in remote settings to boost comprehension—especially for struggling readers and English learners.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Quote:</strong></p><p><span class="ql-cursor"></span>“Research shows that beginning and struggling readers need explicit instruction in these, similar to what they need in phonics. At Amplify, we really dug into the research on reading comprehension and what’s actually going on beyond decoding while we’re reading.”</p>

Jennifer Zoski: (silence) Hey everyone, we're going to start the webinar very shortly. We're just taking a couple of minutes to wait for everybody to come in.(silence) Hi to everyone who just joined. We're going to start the webinar very shortly, we're just waiting a couple of minutes for a few more people to join.( silence) Hi everyone, think we're going to get started. People can trickle in as they come in. My name is Jennifer Zoski and I am a learning scientist here at Amplify Reading. I have a educational- clinical background as a speech- language pathologist as well, which I'm very interested in connections between language and literacy, which as you see is a big theme as part of this presentation. So first I just wanted to take a second to say thank you to all of the educators, administrators, parents, everyone who's joining us today. I know that you have a lot going on right now. As a parent of a six year old and a three year old trying to handle all of the remote learning, I know it's very difficult and I know teachers are doing a really great job, so thank you. Right, we're going to take just a moment to complete a poll. I'd like to get a sense of who's here with us today. So just in a minute, the poll will pop up and we can see... Here we go. What is your role today? And if I missed anyone, if there's any others out there, please feel free to pop it up in the chat or the Q& A.( silence) Nothing shows for poll, it says.

M.L.: You don't see the poll because you're a panelist.

Jennifer Zoski: Oh no, I just saw up in the chat, someone said nothing was showing.

M.L.: Okay, we have 53 people of the 67, so I think it's good.

Jennifer Zoski: Okay. So some that are not up there, district leadership, library media specialist, ELD coordinator, department in education ELA specialist... but it looks like we have a great number of literacy coaches, intervention specialists, we have some parents joining today, but again there's a lot of that other that we missed. Okay, seems like there's a really nice mix today. So this is our agenda for today. We're going to talk about the many components of reading comprehension, really dig into why reading comprehension is so complex. We're going to talk about the missing link of reading comprehension and exactly what that is. And I'll be giving some instructional resources, both for in- classroom as well as remote learning options and provide you with examples as well as how we do some of these things and our digital literacy supplemental program, Amplify Reading. We'll talk a little bit about how Amplify Reading is working, the efficacy for kindergarten through fifth grade students, and then I will leave some time at the end for questions. And if you have any questions throughout, please feel free to also pop those up into the chat or the Q& A. So the many components of reading comprehension. First I'd like you to take just a few minutes to reflect on the following question. What's the most difficult thing about teaching reading comprehension? Feel free to post your thoughts using chat or Q& A, I'm currently looking at both of them.( silence) So someone said inferences, not understanding what they don't understand, basic vocabulary and knowledge, knowledge of the world, doing it in a remote setting, good point... knowing where and how to start and what to focus on, providing appropriate text, mm- hmm( affirmative) ... lack of vocabulary. These are all great responses. Not connecting with the text. So it's so difficult, there are so many components that we're not all saying thing, right, just to show us that reading comprehension, we know it's multifaceted. And so this is a model that I'm sure many of us are familiar with. We know that learning to read in English more so than many other languages is really incredibly complex. So this is the Scarborough braid model and this represents the two main threads in learning to read, being language comprehension and word reading. And we know that for reading comprehension to take place, students have to be able to fluently recognize words, that's the green threads at the bottom, and they must also be able to have those underlying language skills that are so necessary for comprehension. So as students build these strands, the skills become more intertwined over time, it allows students to become more automatic and strategic, which allows them to read complex text with good comprehension. So today I'm going to unpack one step further. We're going to talk about a piece of the puzzle that causes a lot of challenge for many students, and that's going to be focused on the blue and purple strands, the language comprehension. So let's talk about a common scenario. Say you're working one on one with a student and you're asking them what you think, it's just a simple comprehension question, something that you've practiced before. But when the student responds, they say something that really isn't what you were expecting and it actually seems really confused. So you know the student can read fluently, so this isn't a decoding issue. You've taught things like main idea in your units already, but something isn't clicking. Is this situation familiar? What else could have went wrong here that caused the student to be so confused? So let's take a closer look at how a question or a task like this that might seem simple on the surface is actually fairly complex, and how there may be more skills at play than we previously thought. Now in a moment I'm going to read a sentence and after you listen to me read the sentence, I'm going to actually ask you to take a piece of paper and draw your own picture or diagram to summarize what we just read. This doesn't have to be really complicated colored picture, just a quick sketch using stick figures to represent this short sentence. So the sentence is, " Carla forgot her umbrella, so she got very wet on the walk to school." So on a piece of paper, make your own picture, so just summarize what we've read. And I'll give you about a minute to do that.( silence) Okay, just a couple of seconds to wrap up the drawing. Okay, and as you're wrapping up, we're going to send one more poll for you today and it's going to ask you which of these components you had in your picture.( silence) Oh, we don't see a poll. There it is. So which of these things do you have in your picture? And if there's something important that you had in your picture that I don't have up there, please type it in the chat.( silence) Is everyone seeing the poll? I'm seeing some chats that say they don't see the poll. Poll only allows one response. Oh, okay. [M.L. 00:12:27], is there a way to allow them to do multiple responses in the poll?

M.L.: Let me take it down and I will put it back up with that.

Jennifer Zoski: Okay.

M.L.: inaudible.

Jennifer Zoski: Sorry about that. Yeah, that sort of is the key takeaway that you guys are hitting on, is that we likely had multiple answers to this.( silence) Someone in the chat's saying they don't see the pictures. This was the sentence that I wanted you to just draw a picture yourself of what... a representation of that picture, of that sentence.( silence) And M.L., if it's too tricky to change that, we can probably just talk it through.

M.L.: I just have to hit save and then launch it, I think.

Jennifer Zoski: Thank you.

M.L.: It's arguing with me, as things do in technology when you try to do them fast.

Jennifer Zoski: Yep.

M.L.: Give me one moment. There we go. All right, now it's multiple.

Jennifer Zoski: Okay, now you can choose multiple options. And again, if there's something not there, put it in the chat.( silence) Everyone get a chance to do the poll?

M.L.: About 56%, 57% in.

Jennifer Zoski: Okay, I think we can move on.( silence) Okay, so here we have most people overwhelmingly have an image of a young girl, they have rain clouds, they have her looking sad and wet, something that shows she didn't have the umbrella is a little less popular but still up there. And that school, which is sort of more of the minor detail, about a third of you did. So usually at this point, we could have people compare their drawings, but based on the poll I do think it's pretty clear that we have similar pictures and diagrams. So here are a few common pictures that other teachers have drawn. So like we saw in the poll, you probably had a character that shows Carla and she probably wasn't very happy. There's likely a raincloud, some rain falling, maybe some puddles. There's no umbrella in sight, but she's probably maybe thinking about an umbrella. And maybe some of you drew a school or had a school house nearby. So how did we know it was raining in the sentence? What clues in the sentence helped you to figure that out? Does the sentence come out and say that it's raining, or does it come out and say, " ... and that's why Carla got wet?" It doesn't. There are two things that tell you this. There's an inference it was raining, and there's also a connective, the word" so", which tells us the reason why she got wet is due to the rain. So we assume that this is somewhat automatic, because it really is so automatic for us as good readers and good comprehenders, but research shows that beginning and struggling readers need explicit instruction in these, similar to what they need in phonics. So at Amplify, we really dug into the research on reading comprehension and what's actually going on beyond decoding while we're reading. So as fluent readers, we don't really know explicitly the amount of work that we're doing while we're reading, but we are actively building that picture or model in our mind of what's happening in the text as we read it, something like you drew in that picture when I asked you to draw. So it might look something like this. So imagine now that a student isn't doing this while they read. Their mental model is broken, they don't comprehend the text even though they can decode it. So they may not be able to make the inference that it's raining so instead, when you ask them that question, they fill in the gap with something else that could make you get wet, like they know a water bottle could make you get wet. So something that is from their background knowledge but isn't actually relevant to the sentence that they're reading. We do know that there are many facets of teaching reading comprehension, but we often think about the process of reading or what students do while they're reading as being more of the foundational skills, like decoding, fluency... But, when we think about the product or what students do after they read, we actually think that's more of the comprehension piece. However, research in reading comprehension shows us that the process of comprehension is often overlooked. And this can be a really critical piece to the ultimate goal of reading comprehension, and this missing link, the comprehension processes, are the way in which students build a mental model or a picture of their mind in the text, is really critically important. So someone asked me, " So they're not understanding that not having an umbrella will get you wet?" That's not what they're not understanding, they're missing the fact that they have to make that inference. So I'll get into this a little more and hopefully it'll become clear. We're going to go through a lot of examples about inferencing. So what are these skills, this missing link? What are the things that students need to do? We know that there are those readers who have fluent decoding skills, actually good vocabulary skills, yet they still have poor comprehension. These are often referred to in the research as poor comprehenders. These are students that are really going to benefit with working explicitly on some of these skills I'm going to go through, but we also know that all students could benefit from some of this. So we worked to identify six of these comprehension processes that are critical to building this mental model. Research and reading comprehension shows that they're actually many of these, but the ones that we focused on when building the Amplify Reading program were the ones that there was really solid evidence that if we practice this skill in isolation, both the targeted skill itself like inference making improves as well as overall comprehension improves. So we developed a set of skill games in Amplify Reading that targets these comprehension processes by providing students with repeated inaudible to practice the skills. So we embed this practice as early as kindergarten so students can get the practice they need really early on. And so for the sake of time, we're going to take a closer look at three of these comprehension processes. I'm going to explain what each of these are, I'm going to show you some ways to teach the process in the classroom as well as some virtual options, and then I'll show you how we teach it in Amplify Reading. These are gap filling inferences, the one we just introduced, connectives and anaphora. So let's start with an example for gap filling inference. Boris wanted to join his friends, but he didn't bring his bathing suit. So as good comprehenders we know that we automatically fill in the gap here. We know that the words bathing suit are a clue in this picture to help us understand where Boris is. But students may not make that gap automatically, so a clue you might give students when reading this sentence if they're struggling is really alerting them to the bathing suit clue here. You might ask them, " Where might you need a bathing suit?" And as good readers, we know it's probably something like the beach. There are other options of course too, that might make sense. Could be the pool, maybe someone wants to wear the bathing suit out in the backyard in the sprinklers. There are several inferences you could make, but the beach is definitely one. And in this case, the thing that's left out is the location. So writers often make assumptions about what can be left unstated. Like here they didn't explicitly come out and say, " At the beach, Boris... " blah, blah, blah. Rather, they left that out, and writers do this for many reasons, but mostly so that writing remains interesting, and so that it's not overly long or overly complex. These are known as gap filling inferences and they allow readers to use their own background knowledge to fill in any discrepancies or gaps that the author leaves out. Good readers are going to this relatively seamlessly, they're not even going to really think about the fact that they're doing it. But struggling readers and beginning readers will often have difficulty knowing when to fill in the gaps or alternatively, they may fill in those gaps with their own background knowledge when they shouldn't, so when it's something that's not particularly relevant to the specific story. Thankfully, we know from the research that when students are given the opportunity to practice making these inferences, their ability to make them improves. So you can do activities like this as early as kindergarten. You would start with a classroom activity with having a simple sentence like this and asking students explicitly to identify what information is left out. This is where you can provide them with the clue as I did previously about where might Boris want... might Boris need a bathing suit. You can discuss inferences that can be made so that the sentence still makes sense and this is where you would take examples from the classroom like the pool or the beach or the sprinklers, but some students may come up with examples that don't make sense and you'd want to talk those through as well. This is another thing that you can do after introducing this. You can give students some pictures to do on their own. So you would either read the sentence to them or they would read the sentence depending on their grade level, and there would be picture with something left out, and this really helps them to explicitly visualize what the author left out and what they'd bring. So you might ask them to actually draw the thing that was left out in the sentence in this picture, and in this case it's the zoo. So you could prompt them with what clues does the author give us about where they might be. And for this example, the clue would be, " What clues did the author give us about who Buster might be?" And so this is an example that might require some background knowledge and vocabulary, so you might want to preview what fetch means for some students, but most students are going to make that connection and they're going to draw probably a dog in there. Okay, and then just last for my examples here, I wanted to talk about a way to do this in a virtual setting. So I'm most familiar with Google Slides. I know there are other programs out there that allow you to do this, but when teaching virtually, you could use a program like Google Slides to create just simple shapes and text boxes like this on individual slides for a graphic organizer. So I'd suggest for this, going over several of these together, either as a large or a small group, and then you can assign students to complete additional examples on subsequent slides on their own. So what we're doing here is we're really displaying explicitly what the reader brings to the text and also what the reader takes from the text, which allows the student to gain an awareness of how inferences are made and also that really key takeaway that sometimes the author doesn't give you all the information. So here we're helping students to visualize filling in the gap with their own knowledge. Okay, and here is the example from our program Amplify Reading. This is the Boris example again and so you'll see the student is being prompted to bring in the picture that completes the sentence, what the author left out in the sentence. And so we're really helping students to become more aware of the fact that authors leave things out and they actually have to bring in a piece of information into it. If students get this incorrect, so there's a very tempting distractor here, the bathing suit or the swim trunks, that is something that's not in the picture, but it doesn't answer that question, " What does the author leave out?" And so that's an incorrect response to this question. If the student were to pick that, they would be taken to some more deeper instruction and practice to help them before moving on to additional items, and so they would get that sort of clues that you would give them in one on one instruction like, " Whoa, where might someone need a bathing suit?" That sort of thing. Okay, so I am ready to move onto our next topic, which is connectives, our second comprehension process of the day. So let's start with an example of this, here are two sentences about Sally, " Sally was thirsty so she drank some water." And, " Sally ate a cookie after she drank some water." So here's some questions about those sentences. We could ask why did Sally drink water, when did she eat a cookie? So think about that for a second and think about what words in those sentences gave you those answers. You could pop it up in the chat box or the Q& A.( silence) Right, so people are writing so and after. These are such small words that most of us in this room probably don't even really think about them explicitly and they're not often part of typical reading comprehension instruction unless you're an English language specialist, a literacy coach, potentially a speech language pathologist, there are people in this room probably that do focus on it, but for a general education reading instruction, maybe not always. So similar to the example that we looked at with Carla, imagine if you didn't know what that word after meant, and someone asked you when Sally drank some water. This small word can make all the difference in what you understand from the sentence. So these are two examples of the types of words that we're calling connectives. Connectives are words that really just signify two parts of a sentence are related in some ways. Sometimes they're called marker words and they're essential in integrating information within and across sentences because they signal that two pieces of information are related and they give us insight into exactly how they're related. And students' understanding of the use of these words and their meanings supports their text comprehension by allowing them to process text more efficiently and this is especially true for readers who have limited background knowledge for a given text. So here are some examples of the types of connectives, their categories. Instruction, the first thing you should do when teaching connective words explicitly is teach their meanings. So you would start by teaching their meanings in context through a variety of different types of examples and after you teach the meanings, you would move to do sentence combining with them. And so first I'll talk a little bit about the meanings and then in the next few slides we'll talk more about sentence combination. But before we go on, I was curious if everybody in the chat could let me know if you've done any of these exercises with your students previously. Targeted connective words.( silence) Oh, I'm not... Some people have, not for reading purposes, teach deaf children, we've been doing this for 150 years... Wow, yes. Only for writing tasks, interesting. As I go on to talk about sentence combination I will talk about how it's something that is typically used as part of writing instruction, but it actually has been shown that it improves reading comprehension as well. Sentence diagramming, yeah. So the first really key piece for teaching this is to teach them... make sure the students know the meanings of these words, right? So you're going to teach them in context by drawing attention to them in simple sentences, you're going to discuss the meaning and then you might swap out the meaning with another word to see how the meanings vary. A note here that across these categories, the contrastive ones tend to be the most difficult. So once students understand the meanings of those words, we would begin instruction on sentence combining. Now this is... sentence combining instruction is often thought of as something to increase students' sentence complexity in writing. But we've actually found that it has a strong impact on reading comprehension as well. It increases students' ability to produce complex sentences, as well as improving their syntactic awareness so that they can understand complex sentence in text better. So I would start with sentence combining for this purpose after you introduce the meanings with a more really heavily scaffolded task in which you ask students to combine two sentences, but you're going to tell them here which connective to use. So in this case, you're telling them to use the word because and then you're going to talk about the meaning of the word because and how the meaning of the word impacts this sentence. So, " The girl scraped her knee because she fell off her bike," makes sense. If you swapped it the other way and said, " She fell off her bike because the girl scraped her knee," that doesn't really make sense semantically or syntactically. After doing that heavily scaffolded exercise, I would take it down a notch and give them some choices. So in this case, they're choosing between three connectives and only one of them makes sense here. You could discuss how using a different word would change the meaning of the sentence and how only one of them is correct. Then I would move to a more open exercise in which a student gets to actually choose which word to use and combine the two sentences, and so this allows for a lot more variety, it's done in a small group or even in a large group. Over Zoom, you can talk about the different sentences that students have created and talk about the meanings and how the meanings change or don't change based on what connecting word they used. And then from there I would move to some more naturalistic exercises. And so this is... you could take a text that you're reading with your students and use that text if they were a variety of very small sentences in a row and ask them to combine them any way that they choose. You could also use this as an opportunity to kind of... really as a traditional writing exercise. So when you notice the students are using a bunch of short sentences in a row in their writing passages, you could, if you're working on a specific connective, you could tell them, " Hey, try using this connective and see how you can combine this sentence to make a more complex sentence." It's going to help them create more complex sentences in their writing and it's going to also increase their understanding of the connective word, which will make them stronger in their reading comprehension as they continue to practice that. So these are just some examples. You'll even find as part of sentence combining that sometimes you don't even need a connective, sometimes you can do it without them. And here's my example on Google Slides. So again, this is just inserting some text boxes. In this example, you're giving students two sentences, two small sentences to combine, and in the first green box you're asking them to combine them using one of those words, and then you're next asking them to combine the two sentences using a different choice of those words. And so this is a nice example, you could do this together as a group and discuss how the change in the connective does or doesn't change the meaning of the sentence. So a great way to do this would be you do it together as a group, you assign students to do some more on their own and then you come back the next day and you actually pull real examples of sentences that the students have written, and you can take those to kind of talk and contrast them and talk through what the different meanings of the connectives are and how they impact the sentence. Here's how we do this in Amplify Reading, this is the game Connected. You'll see this is the case where there are three choices and only one of them is correct and if students struggle with this, they're put into a loop where they're taught explicitly the meaning of the connective and then they do a couple of practice items that are a little easier than this before going back to do some more examples. Okay. So we are moving right along to anaphora. This is our third comprehension process. So this is one that we haven't really introduced yet in this presentation so I'll give you a little example here. " Astronauts wear jet packs to stay safe in space. Astronauts wear them like backpacks." So in that first paragraph, what is" them" referring to? Take a second to pop it up in the chat. What is" them" referring to in the sentence, in the paragraph? Yep, everybody's saying jet packs. But imagine though, if you didn't make that connection. Imagine that you perhaps thought that" them" was referring to the astronauts, and then your mental model looks quite different than this picture here. Your sentence would be, " Astronauts wear astronauts like backpacks." So you probably realize that the reason why that's a little confusing for kids is because there are two plural nouns there that are at least feasible words that the pronoun could be replacing. So let's look at two more examples to further explore this and the specific situations in pronoun antecedent relationships that cause readers, especially struggling readers to struggle. So let's look at this for a sentence. In this first sentence, who does" she" refer to? Olivia, yep. And now what about in this second sentence? Who does" he" refer to?( silence) It's a little more difficult, right? David lent his car to Peter because he had missed the last train. So" he" is referring to Peter in this situation because he's the one that missed the train. So it's a little more challenging, you have to pause and you have to think about it more than you did with the Olivia example. And this is because just like in the astronaut's example, there are two plausible nouns that it could be replacing and this is why it makes it more challenging for kids. So anaphora are simply words such as pronouns that refer to a previously presented word to avoid repetition. And it doesn't have to just be pronoun- noun substitution, right, there's also noun- noun substitution, so for example I could say, " I drank some soda and then I put the can down on the counter." So in that case, " can" is replacing the previously presented noun" soda". So this is something that fluent readers are able to resolve almost automatically as we're reading. It's part of building our model, we're doing it without even thinking about it. And it's a critical component to reading comprehension. So you can see just from these examples that if you make a small misunderstanding based on this, it can really completely change the model that you're building in your mind. So what's particularly challenging about resolving anaphora is that really it's essentially like a mini inference in some ways. It's something that's not explicitly stated, that you have to resolve. So students with weak reading comprehension skills often have difficulty doing this, resolving anaphora, similar to how students with weak reading comprehension have difficulty making inferences. But we know that the more you practice it explicitly, the more automatic this becomes. So to instruct on this, we would want to begin with some really explicit instruction, especially when you're working with really struggling students or really young students, on how authors use pronouns kind of like shortcuts for different things. So this is just an example, you can use whatever words you want here, but an example would be when you say things or read things, sometimes there are short ways of saying them. For example, sometimes a person called David is called Dave for short. Dave stands for David, it's short for David. So here you would talk through the shortcut, kids are pretty familiar with sometimes nicknames so that's I think a great sort of avenue into this concept for the really young students. And then you would also talk, then you would give examples of pronouns and how pronouns also replace something from the sentence. So after this, you would give students a passage to read and while they're reading, you ask them to circle the pronouns and draw lines to the words that they're replacing. And so this does feel a little bit like sort of old sentence diagramming a bit, but the key here is that we're really working on the interpretation of the sentence. It's not so important that students are calling out which one is a noun and which one is pronoun, the important piece is making the connection to see which word earlier in the sentence the pronoun is replacing. So you could have students do this on their own, you could have them work in groups to see if they chose the same pronouns and nouns, were any of them tricky for them. Students who need support, you could give them a sheet that actually has the different references already underlined, so the noun and the pronoun would be underlined, and all they have to do is make the arrow. And then as stretch, as students get good at this, a fun activity is a sort of Mad Libs type of activity where you're asking students to go through and find nouns and pronouns and replace them with others in a story that would also make sense. So they're sort of playing with that noun- pronoun relationship and just building a silly story. And here's my example of Google Slides. So again, these are just text boxes and if you want to get the circles, you just insert a shape and then you make it transparent and then students can just click and drag the circle over a word. And so this is really just simply practicing identifying pronoun antecedent relationships here. So you're just going to ask students to move the circle to fit around the word or words that the underlying pronoun is replacing in the sentence. And you might do one together as group and then have students practice and do a few on their own. And the key here, especially when working with struggling students and students who are working in small groups with you is to go back and revisit where students made errors and really talk through with them... really talk through their error and help them understand the correct answer. This is how we do this in Amplify Reading, this is a game called Unmask That, and this is really just explicitly calling out these relationships here. Students have to click on the word that the pronoun is replacing in the sentence and as they do that, the line gets automatically drawn for them to really symbolize explicitly that relationship. Now students get this wrong, we do provide scaffolding here as well, so they would be shown the correct answer and then they would be taken to do some additional ones that are a little bit easier before coming back to these types of standard items. And in Unmask That, we actually start out with the easier items, where there aren't multiple potential options, like there aren't two male names to refer to" he", and then we build up and start making it a little more difficult as students show success in the easier items. Okay. So I'm starting to wrap up here, going to talk just briefly about efficacy data with our program Amplify Reading. So I talked about it a little bit throughout, but Amplify Reading's our digital literacy supplemental program. It provides students with targeted and engaging instruction. They're all done in mini games which allow students to practice key skills that they need to be successful readers. And so you'll see here there's foundational skills, we practice phonological awareness, phonics and fluency... And then really relevant to this presentation, as part of our comprehension instruction, we focus on both comprehension processes like these three that I went through today as well as comprehension products, things like comparing two texts. We also focus on vocabulary, a big focus on tier two vocabulary. We do some close reading instruction for students in grades four through eight. And then all students are practicing their reading and connected text as well. So the graph that I'm showing you right now is a study that was done with last year's students from the beginning of the year to the middle of the year before everybody left school and I'm choosing to show you the second grade chart here because second grade is really where students start getting a lot of practice with comprehension processes. In kindergarten, they do get the inference making game, but really the bulk of their instruction is on foundational skills because that's what they needed that time. But second grade is really the year where we really dig into comprehension processes. But these are students that have played the whole program, so this is not saying that this is just the impact of comprehension processes, but comprehension processes is a part of it. So to interpret this data, students who used Amplify Reading demonstrated better growth from the beginning to middle of the year compared to those who did not, and this was measured by DIBELS eight zones of growth. So this is after using the program on average of about seven hours, which is less than the amount of use we would expect in a full year, so this suggests that there could be an even greater impact when used over a longer period of time. So this is showing really that when provide students with the key domains of literacy, and this includes comprehension processes, we're really seeing an impact on their overall reading outcome scores. Okay, I have a few resources that I just want to share with you before I will stop and ask for questions. If you're interested in learning more about Amplify Reading or if you're already an Amplify Reading user, we have created this Amplify Reading caregiver hub. We know that parents and caregivers are really involved in student learning right now and so we wanted to create this portal to give caregivers videos and information they need so that they're not... the parents are not constantly asking the teachers about it. There's information on how to log in, but there's also support videos. One key thing for Amplify Reading is that we want to make sure that the parents are not telling the kids the answers, we want the kids to be working through because we've really embedded scaffolding and instruction within and then we take students on their own adaptive learning path based on how they do. So something that we talk about in this site is just how you just give your student time to play. You help them log in if they need help and then you just let them play and they'll continue to grow. This next site is our Amplify Anywhere site and I wanted to point this one out specifically for teachers who are working either as part of fully remote learning or as a hybrid option, we have examples of ways that you can implement Amplify Reading as part of those two different models, so that is I think a really useful site that you could check out for that. And then lastly, I wanted to show you that we have this mCLASS home connect site and the audience of this website is parents. And so what this does is it provides parents with various activities they can do with their kids to help build these four different domains. And relevant to this presentation, we have 73 activities for reading comprehension and several of them are specifically on inferencing. And then just a few plugs, we have a Facebook group for Amplify Reading, so if you're interested in learning more, just want to talk to people who are using it, feel free to join that. We have a podcast at Amplify, the Science of Reading podcast is run by Susan Lambert and if you haven't checked this out I would highly, highly recommend it. There's some really interesting topics and guests, she has researchers across the gamut of reading research as well as key educators and administrators to really discuss key topics that are relevant to right now. And we also have a Facebook group for the Science of Reading if you want to follow along there. Okay, I think those are all of my resources. So I just wanted to end on this. If you are interested in learning more about Amplify Reading, please contact us over email or phone and we'd be happy to connect you with someone who can help explore your options for Amplify Reading. All right, we have about 12 minutes, so we have plenty of time if you have any questions. I can go back to an earlier slide if you wanted to see it. I believe we'll be making the slides available to everyone, is that correct? I believe we will.

Laura: I think we typically do.

Jennifer Zoski: Okay. Yeah, I am-

M.L.: We'll send a recording-

Jennifer Zoski: ...perfectly fine with doing that, so.

M.L.: Yeah, we'll send a recording in the deck, it'll arrive about 24 hours after this concludes.

Jennifer Zoski: Great. Great, I thought that was what people are going to ask. People are asking if they get a certificate.

M.L.: Yes, we can make that happen.

Jennifer Zoski: Yes, you will get a certificate. Okay. Any other questions? Is there any special reading program specifically for kids with dyslexia? Amplify Reading is not designed specifically for kids with dyslexia but special education students have shown to make great growth similar to English language learners. Can I purchase it on my own as a single teacher for my resource classes? Laura, do you have the answer to that?

Laura: I would say reach out to our sales team and we can see if there's a way we can make that happen but typically we do sell to school sites and districts.

Jennifer Zoski: Where is the foundational boost?

Laura: The foundational skills boost I believe can be found on Amplify Anywhere which I think Jenny had a slide for. That is a I believe three week intensive foundational skills kind of independent practice and instruction program for our students in grades one through three to try to catch them up on missed instruction at the end of last school year. Thanks Jenny.

Jennifer Zoski: Yeah, so I think if you go to amplify. com/ anywhere, you should be able to find that there, right?

Laura: Yep.

Jennifer Zoski: Mm- hmm( affirmative). Any other questions? How do you provide accommodations to students with ADHD? Yes. It's a difficult question. Working with students with ADHD, my main recommendation there is to break things up into smaller chunks, giving them movement breaks, sensory tools like sensory squishies to hold, the rubber band around the chair, just to help increase focus. And really just not overloading, not trying to do too much at once.

Laura: Jenny, do you mind going back to the slide with the contact information for Amplify Reading?

Jennifer Zoski: Yes, there we go.

Laura: Awesome, thank you so much. So for those of you who are interested in using this at your school or in different ways at home with your own kids, as I mentioned we typically sell directly to schools or districts or even working with the state, but we're getting a lot of requests for individual use, so I hear you and definitely reach out to us at either of these contact solutions and we will make sure to work with you and see if there's anything we can do.

Jennifer Zoski: And yes, this will be recorded. This is recorded and you will get an email with the recording and the slides.

Laura: And there's a question from Pam about the free... Is there a free component? I would say the best free option we have is that foundational skills boost. It does include resources from Amplify Reading, it has some Amplify Reading read-alouds, so some of the interactive e- reader with embedded questions including comprehension processes questions, that is all part of that program. So we'll definitely go to that Amplify Anywhere site. There might be some additional free supports on there that I'm not aware of, but of course definitely reach out to us at either of these contact venues to learn more.

Jennifer Zoski: Amplify. anywhere, is that what it is? amplify. com/ anywhere, probably. Yeah, this is the Amplify Anywhere resource hub here.( silence) Okay, looks like there are no further questions. Thank you everyone so much for coming... What is one single powerful reminder that you can give to teachers in regards to enhancing student comprehension? That is a powerful question, right? I think it really all comes down to a lot of times teachers are trained in doing the reading strategies and oftentimes the reason why students are struggling is because there's an underlying language comprehension issue and doing things like seeing how they do in exercises like this, looking at inference making, looking at connectives, looking at anaphora and seeing if they struggle and where they struggle could really help you do some targeted, really pinpointed instruction in the areas that they really need to help them grow in their language comprehension which will help them grow in their reading comprehension.

Laura: And Jenny, we had one question come in about supports for our Spanish speaking students in Amplify Reading. Do you mind touching on that a little bit?

Jennifer Zoski: Yes. So in Amplify Reading, we are currently working to build in Spanish instructions across all the games. Right now we have it in the foundational games because that is where we think it's most important and there's also Spanish in the inaudible component, so Amplify Reading, there's like a inaudible stories, students enter a world and there are quests that they embark on and all of that can be listened to in Spanish. And then as part of the quest, they get the pop up of the three Amplify Reading games they have to do. But then also I just wanted to touch on some of the things that we do within the games that are particularly helpful for Spanish speaking students. So we've added definition support for certain challenging words in games and so there are words that are underlined that when students click on them, a definition with a picture support pops up as well as an audio button so they can click to hear the word, hear the definition, and also read the definition and see the picture. Also, we have embedded instruction in morphological awareness as young as first grade, so students practice on key roots and prefixes and suffixes that are really going to help them and a lot of times these are cognates in Spanish and so students for Spanish speakers tend to really latch onto that strategy for helping them with both their decoding and their understanding of new words. This is something that helps all students. In addition, we give really robust instruction in explicit phonics instruction which of course we know is helpful and all students need but is something also that dual language learners need as well. Laura, did I forget anything that was important to say there?

Laura: No, spot on. Thank you so much-

Jennifer Zoski: Okay.

Laura: crosstalk huge part of the program.

Jennifer Zoski: Yeah, thank you for asking that question. Are you sending our certificate to our email?

M.L.: There will be an email that comes out 24 hours after this recording ends with the recording, the presentation, and a certificate of attendance.

Jennifer Zoski: Thank you. All right, well thank you everyone for being here and thank you again for all that you're doing for our students. We all really appreciate you. Thank you.


Learn about comprehension processes and understand how to explicitly teach them in remote settings to boost comprehension—especially for struggling readers and English learners.


“Research shows that beginning and struggling readers need explicit instruction in these, similar to what they need in phonics. At Amplify, we really dug into the research on reading comprehension and what’s actually going on beyond decoding while we’re reading.”