This section tests your knowledge of teaching literature to students. In order to perform well in this section, you should know how to check for reading comprehension and how to instruct students to create summaries and to use textual evidence to reach conclusions. Other topics addressed in this section include the identification of fiction genres, figurative language, and point of view.
Let’s take a look at these concepts.
Types of Comprehension
Reading comprehension is the ability to meaningfully interpret a text. Readers must
be able to decode words, make connections between the text and prior knowledge, and contemplate what they read. There are three levels of reading comprehension:
Literal comprehension is the ability to understand the author’s explicit meaning. Readers should be able to recognize and recall facts, to identify main ideas, to summarize a text, and to describe supporting details.
Example questions to check for literal comprehension:
- What is the main idea of the story?
- Can you summarize this story?
- How did this character respond to the event at the beginning of the story?
- What happened first in the story?
- Which detail from the story is the least important?
- Inferential Comprehension
Readers must be able to think beyond what the author explicitly states.
They must be able to take what the story literally says and to draw conclusions, or inferences, from the material. Inferential comprehension also means looking for clues to determine an author’s point of view, determine the meaning of figurative language, and draw conclusions about outcomes.
Example questions to check for inferential comprehension:
- How would the story have ended if that character behaved differently?
- What value is most important to the author?
- What lesson does this story teach?
- Now that the story is over, what do you think the characters would do next?
- Evaluative or Critical Comprehension
Readers who have achieved this level of comprehension respond emotionally and intellectually to the text. They express opinions about the text and compare what they read to their own experiences. Readers at this level are also able to show how authors use textual evidence to support ideas.
Example questions to check for evaluative/critical comprehension:
- Have you ever had an experience like the one in this story?
- Does this outcome make sense to you?
- Do you think the story should have ended differently?
- What advice would you give to the main character?
- Which character do you relate to the most? Why?
The main elements of a fiction story are the setting, characters, the problem/conflict, and the solution/resolution. Students should be able to identify each of these elements and to explain how they impact one another. In order to explore this concept a little more, we’ll explore the fairytale Little Red Riding Hood:
When and where does the story occur?
In this case, the story occurs in a couple of different locations: the woods and Grandmother’s house. The “when” may vary depending on the version of the story you’re reading, but for our purposes, we’ll just say “long, long ago.”
Who is in the story?
The characters in the story are Red Riding Hood, Grandmother, the Big Bad Wolf, and the Woodcutter.
What is the main problem in the story?
The Big Bad Wolf eats Grandmother.
How is the problem solved?
In modern tellings of the story, the Woodcutter usually comes and (perhaps a little ridiculously) forces the wolf to spit out Grandmother. In the classic tale, which is more gruesome, the Woodcutter cuts open the Big Bad Wolf and rescues Grandmother.
An allusion is a reference to another work or to pop culture. The other work maybe another book, or it may be a poem, song, or even a movie. When an author makes an allusion, she assumes that the reader will understand the reference.
Authors use allusions for a variety of reasons. Allusions allow readers to connect with the text, and they make the text seem more vivid and realistic. An allusion can also be made to add humor or to elicit an emotional response from the reader.
Here are a couple of examples of literary allusions:
“Matt said he didn’t break the vase, but if he was Pinocchio, his nose would have grown!”
This is an allusion to The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. In this case, the writer assumes that the reader is familiar with the tale and can figure out that Matt is lying, even though this fact is not explicitly stated. The allusion makes the statement more engaging for the reader.
Let’s look at another allusion:
“Jaime dyed his hair for the costume party. Unfortunately for him, the dye wouldn’t wash out. To his dismay, he spent two weeks looking like Ronald McDonald’s long-lost brother.”
In this case, the writer makes an allusion to Ronald McDonald, a pop culture, fast-food mascot. This particular allusion helps the reader visualize Jaime’s hair, and it also adds some humor to the text!