In dealing with a short reading
text for a content-based class, preparation for a debate, or in
preparation for writing an essay, I came up with this series of tasks
that allows students to become more involved with the text, while at
the same time assures me that the text has been understood.
This would be used for a text about the length of the 'For
', or 'Against'
texts from my debate class page.
Students skim the text for 3 minutes, and then selected students
are asked to write 2 things on the board. Somewhere on the right side
of the board they write what they
thought the main point of the text was, and somewhere on the left side
write a fact they guess that (predict) they may find if they read it
Feedback: Scan for details.
They read the text a second time, this time for 8 minutes or so.
They scan through it and see if the predictions on the board were true
or false. As a group, we go through each item on the board and verify
or deny them.
Post-reading questions are answered by the students. ( or option 4 )
At the end of the text, there are some questions aimed at the
general meaning, or gist of the text. These questions are made as much
as possible so that they can't be answered simply with a line from the
text; something needs to be inferred. Instead of turning it completely over to
them here I add a little listening aspect here. One by one, I say out
the answers to the questions, paraphrasing, so as not to use the exact
that were in the passage, but then pointing out what area of the text
had the info needed to infer the answer.
I had told the students to listen to my answers and then make
their own answer. By giving them several ways to answer the
question, and constantly changing the phrasing of my model answers, I
prevented it from becoming a simple dictation. Once the faster students
started to complete their answers, I started peaking over their
read out those student's answers slowly, praising them and encouraging
the slower students to borrow the
sentence as their answer.
After each question was completed, they had a pretty complete
understanding of the text, and a chance to produce some of the language
on their own terms in the answers. It worked well, I think!
Alternate post-reading activity,
Another way to consolitade meaning and comprehension using
group work would be to have Ss in groups of 4, chart out the points of
the text on a graphic organizer.
They would pick out meanings from the text and write them out on a
brain-storming type sheet that simply had organized blank cartoon
ballons on it waiting to be filled in. The students write in partial
sentences, or 'chunks': just enough to get the meaning across.
Doing this in a group would
allow Ss to cooperate and collaberate, making a lot of learning happen
at once, (easier for the teacher!)
The filled out sheet could easily be checked at a glance by a
roaming teacher, or gone over as a group with teacher front. Pretty
I was really sure every student had understood the text the way
it was meant to be read. Difficult in a class of 40!
Preview, Predict, Skim, and Scan
are good reading strategies that will become skills if practiced like
(3): Paraphrasing the answers for
Ss adds a
(3): Reading out the faster
answers makes it a bit more learner centered, and the fellow students
are likely to listen to their classmates answers closely.
(3): Praising the correct answers
the faster Ss is good for motivation.
(3): Having the student's construct their own answers adds a free
(4): The overall meaning is made very clear.
(4): Having the students write partial sentences, or 'chunks' is good
(4) Perhaps the constuction of a paragraph becomes more transparent to
the Ss. 'Intensive'