Reading Comprehension

Main-Idea Maps

This simple strategy teaches students to generate a graphic organizer containing the main ideas of an expository passage.

Jim's Hints

Use a Giant 'Main Idea Map' to Teach The Strategy. You can make the teaching of this strategy fun and highly interactive by drawing a giant version of the Main Idea Graphic Organizer onto newsprint and laying it on the floor.

Assign each individual in the class to read through a practice passage and write out a summary main-idea phrase and key ideas or facts for each paragraph. Review the passage with the group.

For each paragraph, invite a volunteer to stand on the space on the giant organizer that corresponds to the paragraph and read aloud his or her summary for class feedback. Continue through the passage until all paragraphs have been reviewed and student volunteers have occupied each point on the graphic organizer.

"Click or Clunk?": A Student Comprehension Self-Check

Students periodically check their understanding of sentences, paragraphs, and pages of text as they read.

Jim's Hints

Create Silent "Click/Clunk" Signals. Although it may seem rather silly to have students call out "Click" and "Clunk" as an aid to monitor their own reading, .the technique is actually quite valuable. When students must make regular summary judgments about how well they comprehend at the sentence level, they are more likely to recognize-and to resolve-comprehension errors as these mistakes arise.

You might find, however, that students start to distract each other as they call out these comprehension signals. Once you see that students consistently use the technique, you can train them to softly whisper the signal. Or confer with your students to come up with an unobtrusive non-verbal signal (e.g., lightly tapping the desk once for "Click" and twice for "Clunk") that is obvious enough to allow you to monitor readers' use of the technique without distracting other students.

Keywords: A Memorization Strategy

In this mnemonic (memorization) technique, students select the central idea of a passage and summarize it as a 'keyword'.

Jim's Hints

Encourage Students to Share Helpful Keyword Examples With Peers. Your students will probably come up with clever and memorable ways to recall information using the keyword strategy. Note any students who do especially well at memorizing complex information and invite them to share their mnemonic strategies with other students.

Advanced Story Map

Students are taught to use a basic 'Story Grammar' to map out, identify and analyze significant components of narrative text (e.g., fiction, biographies, historical accounts).

Jim's Hints

Edit student creative writing using the Story Map Worksheet. Students can use the Advanced Story Map Worksheet to check the structure of stories that they have written. Peer editors can also use the worksheet to give feedback to students about the clarity of their story structure.

Consider the Story Grammar as a tool for analyzing historical narratives . Many historical accounts are structured as dramatic narratives-with central characters taking part in key events. Students can productively use elements of a Story Grammar to analyze these historical narratives.

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