Reading to Learn

Reading to Remember!


Lauren Hendriks, Fall 2005

Rationale:  It is important for students to know the general structure of stories to improve their reading comprehension. They should also know how to ask themselves questions about stories both during and after reading to further enhance comprehension. To become skilled readers, students need to learn to use story grammar automatically. This lesson will help students understand how to use story structure while reading to better their comprehension.

1. A familiar story for the teacher to read to the students (Cinderella is used in this particular lesson. Booktalk is in Step 6) Other examples – Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, etc.
2. Pencils
3. Paper
4. Chart displaying these five questions:  Who is the main character? What is the problem in the story? When or where does the story take place? What happens at the end of the story? How does the main character feel at the end of the story?
5. Copies of Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst (published by Scholastic Printing). (Booktalk is in step 7) Have enough books for the entire class. [Alternative reading material – and] These websites can be used to find short stories for children to read if you believe that the students need something a little less time-consuming to read.

1. When introducing the lesson, tell the students that there is more to reading than just decoding the words. Also compliment them by telling the kids that they have been doing a great job with their reading.

2. Just for a quick review of how to read silently, have students pull out their chosen book for the week (or go to the classroom library), and read silently for five or ten minutes. Teacher should also be reading silently at her desk to set a good example for the students.

3. Then say - Because you are catching on so quickly, we are going to move on to improving our comprehension skills. Now that you all are really learning to read well, we need to practice remembering what we are reading. So today we will learn to use story grammar and structure to help us with our comprehension.

4. Review the structure of stories with students, reminding them, Boys and girls, we remember that stories contain information about the time, location, and the main characters. In addition, stories include an event or obstacle which is followed by several attempts to solve the problem.

5. Display the chart with the five written questions at the front of the room - Who is the main character? What is the problem in the story? When or where does the story take place? What happens at the end of the story? How does the main character feel at the end of the story?  Say to students, We are going to use a familiar story to answer all of these questions and then you are going to read your own story and answer the same questions.

6. Read the familiar storybook, Cinderella to students (Remember – other familiar stories can also be chosen). 
    Booktalk for Cinderella – A young girl, whose mother died at birth has been raised by her             wealthy father, who remarried an evil woman with two equally evil daughters. Cinderella’s             father goes away, leaving her with these three wicked women. Cinderella is very sad because     she has been left to be a servant for her stepmother and stepsisters. When the town finds out     that the Prince is looking for a bride, Cinderella’s stepmother will not allow her to go. Cinderella     is very sad. What is she going to do?
Model how to answer the questions on the board. For example, say to students, "First we need to know who the main character is in the story. Well, we have Cinderella, her stepmother and stepsisters, her fairy godmother, and the prince.  One of those has to be the main character. I think it is Cinderella because the story talks about her all the way through. (Write in Cinderella on the chart) Now we need to know the problem. I think the biggest problem is that her stepmother would not let her go to the ball (Write in the problem on the chart). Okay, now I want all of you to help me answer the rest of the questions. Have students discuss the answers and come up to write them on the chart. Try to give each student a chance to contribute his/her ideas to be sure they are getting the main point.

7. Tell students – Now, you are going to get a chance to practice this on your own.  Have them take out a sheet of paper and copy the questions from the chart onto their paper, leaving room for answers. Give each student a copy of Alexander, Who Use to Be Rich Last Sunday and review silent reading with them. Remember how we quietly read to ourselves earlier in the lesson? We are going to use this same strategy while reading the Alexander book.
    Booktalk for Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday – Alexander’s grandmother gave         him and his two brothers a dollar last week. Now, his brothers both have money and all             Alexander has are bus tokens! Where has all of Alexander’s money gone? Let’s read and find     out…
Tell them to read the book silently to themselves and then answer the questions on their paper. I want you to read this entire book silently, then use your question chart to write down what you remember from the story. Monitor the students' work during this time.

8. When students are finished with their work, have them get into pairs. Tell them - I want you to discuss the story together and see how much you can remember about what happened using your answers to the questions. If you remember any other details, write these down on your paper. The teacher may ask open-ended questions to help students come up with other details. How do you think Alexander’s brothers ended up with more money than he did? What would you buy if your grandmother gave you a dollar?

9. For evaluation, review the students' answers to the questions to see if they understand how to use the structure chart while reading a story. For further assessment, Accelerated Reader offers a quiz on this book, which can usually be done through the school’s media center. [Click here to order this accelerated quiz online –  Accelerated Reader
You may also want to do another story with the group, giving the students a chance to model how they got their answers.

Michelle Herring – “We Can Comprehend!

Laura Lansdon – “Remembering What We Read

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, 3-32.

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