There are several different types of readers. One type of reader is what I lovingly call the bulldozer reader. The bulldozer reader usually is a high reader, who decodes really well, but plows through the passage or book with no regard to skipping words or stopping to understand vocabulary.
Sometimes when a child skips words it doesn't really affect their comprehension. For example, the child who reads the following excerpt from Harry Potter:
Harry repressed a snort with difficulty. The Dursleys really were astonishingly stupid about their son, Dudley; they had swallowed all his dim-witted lies about having tea with a different member of his gang every night of the summer holidays.
The bulldozer child will read it as such or similar:
Harry repressed a snort difficulty. Dursleys were astonishingly stupid about son, Dudley; they swallowed his dim-witted lies about tea with different member of his gang every night in the summer holidays.
The words excluded don't change the meaning of the passage. There are schools of thought that say that this is okay if they are comprehending what they read. However, usually, the bulldozer will do an excellent job of decoding these words but may not understand them.
For example the words repressed, astonishingly, dim-witted lies.
Not understanding the meanings of these words would absolutely change the meaning of the passage. It is then in fact as bad as omitting the words. So the passage now would read as follows:
Harry a snort difficulty. Dursleys were stupid about son, Dudley; they swallowed his about tea with different member of his gang every night in the summer holidays.
These are our students who read well, whose parents often push for them to read novels before they are ready, who the students themselves believe they can read chapter books or novels, and then fail an AR test or a comprehension test.
What should we do with our bulldozer readers?
We should scale them back. Bring them back a few reading levels. Find books of high interest that will help you teach them some comprehension skills.
Assess your student's comprehension level...this is different than reading level. A student could read above grade level but then comprehend 2-grade levels below where they are. The type of reading (fiction or non-fiction) could also affect the comprehension level. With non-fiction is more difficult to read.
Now that we have scaled back what they are reading it is time to concentrate on comprehension skills. Although, some assessments will tell you if your student is having difficulty with either implicit or explicit questions, teaching simple strategies to your class will help all. Literature circles are a great way to make sure students slow down to work on specific comprehension questions and tasks. Taking time to teach students how to look for context clues will help improve understanding of vocabulary that they skip over. Having students keep a Reading Response Notebook where they summarize chapters as they are read, a section with characters and notes on how they develop. Of course, you have heard me preach about the use of sticky notes to help students with comprehension too. When students make a connection to the characters or to the topic they are reading it creates a learner who is invested in the reading process.
Slow down the bulldozer, help them build a strong foundation in comprehension.
Wife, Mom, Educator and Lifelong Learner