We can Comprehend What we Read
Anna Maner
Reading to Learn

Rationale:  When students know about the general structure of stories and how to ask themselves questions about the stories they are reading, they improve their comprehension.  Children can become skilled readers when they know how to use story grammar automatically to facilitate comprehension.  This lesson will help children to understand the story structure and how to use the structure to improve comprehension.  To practice, the students will ask themselves questions during silent reading, then after reading, and they will make story maps as well.

Materials:  A copy of "Whooz-z-z Snooz-z-zing?" (Ranger Rick, Nov 2000) for everyone, a copy of "The Secret of Silver Pond" (Ranger Rick, Aug 2000) for everyone, a story map guideline sheet for everyone, an enlarged story map, "question" cards for everyone (see procedure #3), extra paper, and pencils.

1. To introduce the lesson explain how important it is to understand the general structure of many stories.  Our comprehension and memory will improve once we learn about the story structure.  Today we are going to use a grammar story to work on improving our comprehension skills so we can become better readers.  We will be reading several stories and doing lots of fun activities to improve our reading skills.
2. Review the structure of stories with your students.  Be sure to remind them of the following: Almost all stories have a beginning which can include information about the time of the story, where it took place (the setting), and the main characters of the story.  Then an event usually sets the goal or problem, which is followed by several attempts to reach the goal or solve the problem.  And finally the goal or problem is solved.  This is what we call story structure.
3. Now tell them that since they know story structure they can ask themselves questions while they are reading.  (Pass out cards with questions on them to everyone.)  Explain to them that the questions they should be thinking about are on the card: (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? (5) How did the main character feel? Tell the class to think about these questions on the cards while they silently read "The Secret of Silver Pond."
4. Once the students have read the article, then you can model for them how to answer the questions on the card.  To do this, show them how to use their knowledge of story structure to help them answer the questions.  Be sure to go through each question.  For example, #1 & #2: We know that we can usually find the setting and characters at the beginning of the story.  I will look back at the beginning of this story and find out that this story takes place in the summer time by a pond.  I also find out that Rowen and Mick are the main characters.  Now, I want to see if you can finish answering the rest of the questions on your own.
5. Have a class discussion about the story and talk about the five questions and answers.
6. Tell the students the following: Now lets create a story map of "The Secret of Silver Pond."  On our story maps we will record the setting, problem, goal, action, and outcome of the story.  Be sure to have an enlarged map on the board.  Then read to your students a familiar article and model for them exactly how to make a story map.  Remind them to use their own knowledge of story structure to help them make their map.  Then go through each part of the map and record each answer.  Explain to the students how you got your answers.  Now let them create a story map for the story they just read.
7. For assessment, hand out story map guideline sheets and the following article to each student in your class: "Whooz-z-z  Snooz-z-zing?"  Then ask them to read the article silently to themselves and make a story map of what they just read.

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

Story Map Card

Name___________________ Date______________

The Setting:




The Problem:

The Goal:


The Outcome:

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