Early Reading: What is microcomprehension?

Microcomprehension with SHurley English.jpg

I read some information today about what’s missing in reading comprehension instruction, and the research that was provided jumped off of the page for me!  I had to get used to some new terminology, but it all made perfect sense!

The article stated that the latest research in early literacy found that there is an extra step between decoding and comprehension that most of us don’t know about.  They even had a name for the missing skill: microcomprehension.

In a nutshell, microcomprehension is described as the work you do to build a mental model or “visualized graphic organizer” from a text during reading­­­.  The language skills that are required to create a mental model are absolutely critical to comprehension. 

To help you understand a solid mental model of a text, take a look at this passage from The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh:

It’s a very funny thought that, if Bears were Bees,

They’d build their nests at the bottom of trees.

And that being so (if the Bees were Bears),

We shouldn’t have to climb up all of these stairs.


If I removed the passage from in front of you and asked you to explain what you read, you probably couldn’t recite it word for word.  However, you could use the mental model you hopefully created to tell me the gist of it. 

Basically, it said that if bears were bees they would build their nests down low in the tree, and if bees were bears, they could just build their nest up high without having to climb all of the branches.

Reading research now tells us that developing readers do not need more practice working on answering comprehension questions.  What they do need is better microcomprehension.  They need to learn the skills that will help them to create a better mental model to help them make sense of what they read. 

I can honestly say that Shurley English covers all of the microcomprehension skills necessary to create a mental model in true Shurley style!  Repetition, of course, is key!  Students learn how to apply this beneficial extra step between decoding and comprehension and to use it automatically. 

Are you ready for strategies to improve microcomprehension? Are you ready to explore multi-sensory approaches to help your early readers break the reading code? We invite you to STAY TUNED, as we will discuss these topics and much more in our latest blog series entitled, Early Reading.