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
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.
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 – www.rangerrick.com
and www.highlights.com] 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
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
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
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.
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, 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
are bus tokens! Where has all of Alexander’s money gone? Let’s read and
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
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
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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