"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Reading Comprehension (Online Tools)

The internet does provide an excellent avenue for us to find tools that may help our children learn. These tools are, however, quite useful not so much because of the technology they provide but because of the content that they make accessible. My son, currently in third grade, is asked to read at least for half an hour each weekday to develop both stamina and skills in reading. There are, fortunately, books for children that are now available online. With half an hour each day, one may easily find not having enough children's books at home. But there are resources on the web that provide more than just reading materials. My son and I have been using sites compiled by internet4classrooms. One of the sites is Harcourt Publishers' Test Tutor:


The above is an example of a short story and this is accompanied with a set of questions that can be used to assess a child's reading comprehension. The question shown here illustrates an example of a question that can not be answered correctly without reading the story. It is quite specific yet it also contains some valid distractors. The days Saturday, Friday and Monday can clearly be found in the passage, but only reading and understanding the passage can lead to the correct answer that this story takes place on a Saturday morning. One thing the above makes possible is some sort of instant gratification. Stickers can make a child more motivated. The same is true for keeping scores. After going through three short passages and nine questions, my son got eight of nine correctly. At the end, there is an option to replay, and my son eagerly clicked on that and went through the entire series again just to get a perfect score at the end. This sure beats the other times when my son looks at the clock so often just to check how many more minutes remain till half an hour.

My son and I have also looked at a site provided by the English Language Centre at the University of Victoria. An example is shown below:
With the question above, my son actually paused for a moment and asked if the story was actually true. My son also attends Sunday school during which he has been introduced to the story of creation. So I told my son that he needed to answer this question based on what he has read and not on what he knows outside of the passage. The above question does illustrate an example in which a student's reading is being assessed and not a student's knowledge. There are other exercises that the above site provides. One example is shown below:

I guess my son and I will find out how this exercise pans out later tonight....





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