Kim Burns
Reading to Learn

Do you know your Story Grammar?

Rationale:  To facilitate comprehension and memory of stories, students need to know about the general structure of stories and how to ask themselves important questions about stories as they are reading.  Once readers know how to identify and use this story grammar to improve comprehension, they can become skilled readers.  This lesson will help children understand story structure and  how to use the structure to facilitate comprehension.  They will practice by asking themselves questions during silent reading, and after reading, they will make story maps.

Materials:  Class copy of ãFrog Friendsä (Ranger Rick, April 2001) for each student; class copy of ãThe Secret of Silver Pondä (Ranger Rick, July 1998) for each student; story map worksheets for each student; overhead projector; transparency of ãMy Story Mapä; ãquestionä cards for each student; extra paper; and pencils.

Procedures:  1) Introduce the lesson by explaining the importance of story grammar in many stories.  Once we learn how to identify story structure, our comprehension and memory of stories will improve, therefore, making us better readers.  Today we will work on how to identify and use story grammar by reading several stories and doing some activities to improve our comprehension skills.

2)  Today, we are going to read our stories silently.  Letâs quickly review how we read silently.  Remember we read to ourselves and not out loud.  This way, we do not disturb any of our friends who are also reading silently.  [Read a passage aloud.]  Am I reading silently?  No, you can hear me reading and this is very distracting if you are trying to comprehend or understand a story.  This is how we read silently [read the passage to yourself].  So today when we are reading, remember that reading silently means reading to yourself so that you are not disturbing any other readers.

3)  Explain the structure of stories with the children.  Remind them of the following: Most stories have a beginning that includes the time of the story, where it took place, and the main characters.  An event then sets a goal or problem, which is followed by attempts to reach the goal or solve the problem.  Finally, the goal is resolved in some way, and the mail characters react to the outcome.  This what we call story structure or story grammar.

4)  To better understand story structure, they can ask themselves questions while they read.  [Pass out cards with questions to everyone].  Tell the students to ask themselves these five questions as they read the story: 1) Who is the main character?  2) Where and when did the story take place?  3) What did the main characters do?  4) How did the story end? and 5) How did the main character feel?  Tell the class that they are going to silently read ãFrog Friendsä and that while reading, they need to ask themselves the five questions on the card.

5)  After they have read the article, model to them how to answer the questions on the card.  Show them how to use their knowledge of story structure to help them answer these questions.  Go through each question: For example: #1 and #2:  At the beginning of the story, we know we are usually introduced to the setting and the main characters.  So I will look at the beginning of this story and see that the setting is in the summer, by a pond, and the main character is Miguel.  Now that I have got you started, letâs see if you can finish answering the questions.

6)  Have a discussion with the whole class about the story.  Talk about the five questions and answers.

7)  Tell the students the following:  Now we are going to create a story map of ãFrog Friends.ä  A story map consists of recording the setting, main character, problem, goal, action, and outcome information of the story.  Read the famous fairy tale of Cinderella aloud and model how to make a story map of this story.  [I will fill in the story map on the overhead projector; a sample of what the story map looks like is below].  Class watch as I use my knowledge of story structure to fill in the story map.  Go through each part of the map and record each answer.  Tell the students how you got your answers.  Let them make a story map of the story they just read.

8)  For assessment, pass out sample story maps just like the one I used on the overhead projector and the following article to everyone in the class: ãThe Secret of Silver Pond.ä  Tell them to read the article silently to themselves and when they are finished reading, to make a story map of the story they just read.  Remind them to ask themselves the five questions on their cards because those five questions will help them to fill in the story map.
My Story Map

Name:                                          Date:

Title of Book:

The Setting
    Main Character:
    Time:
    Place:

The Problem:

The Goal:

Action:

The Outcome:

Reference: Pressley, M., Johnson, C. J., Symons, S., McGoldrick, J. A., & Kurity, J. A.  (1989).  Strategies that improve childrenâs memory and comprehension of text.  The Elementary School Journal, 90, 13.

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