I Can Comprehend What I Read
Lori Gatling

Rationale:  It is important when children read, they are able to understand what exactly they are reading.  They may be able to read every word in a particular text, but it they are unable to read for meaning, it is almost pointless.  The purpose of this activity is to help children understand how to completely understand what they have read and be able to answer questions using story grammar.

Materials:  A poster board with the question (these are listed in #2 of the procedure), enough copies of Great Gilly Hopkins for the entire class to have their own, worksheets for each student with questions to answer, paper and pencil for them to create their own questions.

Procedure:  1.  Introduce this lesson by explaining the format of stories.  “Let’s talk about an order of stories.  Most of the time the beginning of the story usually tells us when the story took place, where it is, and the main characters that will be throughout the book.  (Write this on the board for a visual)  Next there will be a beginning event that will tell us what is going to happen to the main character.  He or she may have to solve a mystery or help someone, or something to make everything back to normal.  Finally the problem will be solved and the characters will act a certain way towards what happened in the book.”

2.  Next teach the students it is important to ask themselves questions as they read.  Make a poster with these questions and place them at the front of the room so the students will always s be able to see them.  (a) Who is the main character?  (b) Where and when did the story take place?  (c) What did the main characters do?  (d) How did the story end?  (e) How did the main character feel?

3.  Next read your students a short story from a magazine and model as you asking yourself questions.  Have the children give you imput on questions they may want to ask themselves, as they would read this story.  “I am going to read this story, as I read I am going to ask myself the questions such as who exactly is the main character and why is he or she acting in this way?”

4.  Next the students will read the first chapter of Great Gilly Hopkins silently.  Once everyone has completed the reading, the children will be given a worksheet with question to answer about what they read.  These questions will be more elaborate than the questions listed in #2, but generally the same ideas about the characters and the setting and the plot.  They will be asked to complete this worksheet first without looking back in the book, and then later they will be allowed to look into the book.

5.  Now have an open discussion about how important it is that the students ask themselves the questions listed on the poster while they are reading.  As you ask your students the questions have them find in the book where the answers are and read a portion of where they found the answer aloud.

6.  For Chapter 2, the students will be asked to write the questions for their neighbor to answer while he or she is reading.  This will allow students to practice what type of questions they will ask themselves while they are reading. Make sure that they are not asking trivial questions such as what color dress does Gilly have on.  Help them to understand that these questions should be about how the characters interact with each other, how conflicts occur, and how problems are solved.

7.  Continue to have the children practice writing the questions for each chapter and exchanging them with different members of the classroom.  Be sure and review these questions and make sure they are being creative and not just writing trivial ones.

8.  For assessment, crate a test with questions the children should be able to answer after the entire book has been read.  These questions should come from every chapter.  You may want to use some of the questions your children have generated to help create a community in your classroom.

Reference:  Delpit, Story Grammar.
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