Blog Hero Image

Comprehension and Building Knowledge: From Acquiring Knowledge to Actively Using It

Picture this: a classroom buzzing with the energy of discovery—where each lesson leads to new learning and every discussion contributes to deeper understanding. Content-rich classrooms make learning irresistible. Kids are asking questions, inferring, discussing, debating, creating, and generating new ideas every day.

Comprehension is a Knowledge Building Activity

As kids continue to learn about and comprehend the world, their comprehension is strengthened by existing and new knowledge. When kids build their knowledge store, it is thinking and learning intensive. As teachers, we don’t ask kids to read to simply amass information. Instead, they read to tackle real problems, explore authentic issues, and puzzle through ideas to make sense of the world as they learn more about it. This is what we mean when we talk about using comprehension strategies to acquire knowledge and actively using it.

CompToolkit_2024_NTL_Cycle-of-Knowledge-Building-Blog_Graphic1. Adapted from Cervetti, Jaynes, and Hiebert (2009)

As this figure illustrates, knowledge building is a reciprocal process. As students build their knowledge through reading and thinking, they create a foundation that in turn supports ongoing learning and understanding. P. David Pearson (1996) calls this a “virtuous cycle.”

Dr Arthur Costa says, “The deeper the knowledge one has, the more analytical, experimental and creative one’s thought processes.”   Comprehension skills, such as analyzing, inferring, questioning and synthesizing information, enable students to delve deeper into the content. In return, the more content knowledge students acquire, the more background knowledge they have for understanding new information. It’s a reinforcing cycle where skills and knowledge continually enhance each other.

Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis

Divider Line

Want to learn more about reaching all learners through comprehension and knowledge building in the classroom?

Join us for the Summer Literacy Institute featuring Stephanie Harvey and Lesley University Literacy Trainers to learn how to build every students’ content knowledge, vocabulary, and passion for reading and writing.

PinLinkedIn

You might also be interested in

June 11, 2024 Nikki Drury, Literacy Trainer

Advice for Coaches: Helping Teachers Navigate the End-of-Year Homestretch

How can coaches help empower teachers to navigate the end-of-year homestretch? By creating opportunities for reflection.   

May 22, 2024 Wendy Vaulton, Associate Director for Reading Recovery & Early Interventions

Seeking to Understand the Science of Reading

The 2024 book, “Fact-checking the Science of Reading: Opening Up the Conversation,” is an unbiased, accessible review of ten major claims associated with the Science of Reading movement.

April 24, 2024 Cindy Downend, Associate Director of Literacy Programs

Evidence-Based? Research-Based? What does it all Mean?

Are you puzzled by the terms, evidence-based and research-based? Read on for some clarity and a bit of friendly advice.