Anna Palmer
Reading to learn

Lots of Learning

Rationale:  This lesson is designed to help children learn to read and comprehend non-fiction text.  They will learn how to relate non-fiction texts to things they already know.  They will also learn how to stop and think about what they are reading repeatedly to make sure they understand the text.

Materials:  Copy of “Helen Keller” by Margaret Davidson, Scholastic Inc., 1969, for every student, paper, pencil, chalk, chalkboard


1.  To introduce students to this lesson they will learn the differences between fiction and non-fiction books.  “Can anyone tell me what a fiction book is?” (entertaining stories, not true) “Does anyone know what a non-fiction book is?”  (real life stories, factual information)   “What are some examples of fiction and non-fiction books?” (non=science books, fact books, etc, fiction=Harry Potter, Strega Nona,etc.)  “Today we are going to begin reading a non-fiction book.  This is a true story of someone’s life.  A story of someone’s life is also called a bibliography.  The title of our book is “Helen Keller.”  In this book the author of the book is telling the story.  There are certain parts where there is sample dialogue such as something Helen said or the teacher in the story said.”

2. I will relate the book to what they already know about people who are blind and deaf.  I will also ask and discuss what Braille is.  On the back of the book is the Braille alphabet.  “Can you think of anyone you know that is blind or deaf? Have you ever seen anyone that was this way? “  Talk about this issue with the students.  “Have any of you ever seen Braille writing like is on the back of the book?” (elevators, bathrooms, restaurants, etc.)  “Braille means “a special raised dot alphabet.”  Discuss their questions.

3. We will talk about summarization strategies to use while reading.  I will discuss how it is a good idea to stop after reading a few minutes and think about what they have just read.  “Sometimes we find ourselves just reading to get finished and we do not think about the message.   Don’t worry about trivial or unimportant information, but focus on the main parts.  What are some things that may not really be important to remember while reading?” (dates, etc.)  I will model by reading a page from “Helen Keller.”  I will read and then tell them what I thought the most important thing to remember on the page was.  I will suggest that after reading a page or two that it would be a good idea to write down the important thing in a sheet of paper.  I will model this by writing down on the board the important thing about the page I read.
4. I will then ask the students to begin reading the book silently.  “Students, I know that we do not always read silently at our desk, but in order for everyone to comprehend the story we are going to read the book this way.  It would be a good idea to keep a sheet of paper and a pencil on your desk as you read so that you can write the important things down.”  I will tell them that they should stop every few minutes and think about what they are reading and if they are lost to go back and reread and figure out the message.

5. After they complete quite a few pages (15-20), I will ask them to write one to two paragraphs about how they feel about the story and their thoughts about how they think the story will end.

6. To assess, I will check each student’s notes that they have written down as they have read.  If they are consistent and on track with the book, then I will know they understand and comprehend.  If the notes are not correct and on track then I will know that they are not understanding and do not comprehend.

7. There will also be group discussions often during the course of reading this book.  This will help students that may be struggling on comprehending the message.  Discussions will also help to motivate them to keep reading and will build their curiosity.


Pressley, M., Johnson, C.J., Symons, McGoldrick, J.A. (1989) “Strategies that improve children’s memory and comprehension of text.” “The Elementary School Journal,” 90, 3-32.

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