Shrink-a-Text

A "Reading Strategy" by Jennifer Serravallo

What is this strategy?

1). Read a chunk (paragraph) of text with your partner.

2). Decide together what the main idea is> try to "shrink" everything you read into once sentence. You can even have one person be the reader and one the "coach".

3). Be sure and think critically. You should be able to back up your ideas with proof from the text.

4). Read on and Repeat.

Teaching Tip:

After students do this a few times wth a partner, you can have them try it independently.

Encourage them to "Pause, Discuss, and Back-up" before moving on.

Verbal Prompts to give students:

1). Read a paragraph (chunk).

2). Decide what the main idea is.

3). Try to say it using fewer words. Maybe just one sentence.

4). You're listing facts, just try to say the main idea.

5). Do you agree with your partner? How would you rephrase that?

6). Great job- you worked together to come up with a main idea that is clear and concise.

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To make the strategy more enjoyable, teachers can also try these ideas.

Score cards: These cards keep a track of how many re-readings are required for the student to answer all the questions correctly. Each individual can keep a score card that is scored by his current coach. With practice, students can monitor their proficiency using the scores they attain i.e. if they are able to answer all the questions in the first attempt.

Question slips: A simple method of using question slips is to formulate questions for each paragraph that is asked by the coach. Gradually, the teacher can instruct them to read more number of paragraphs at a stretch (starting with two and progressively increasing) and have questions that are more objective for recollection of details and increased comprehension. Creating two set of question slips will ensure that each player answers a different set, ensuring that the students are recollecting from the text and not the answer already given by the previous player.

Write it down: Another method to strengthen learning is to encourage students to note down the key points. This can be a timed task and the player can be asked to answer the question by writing down the key point. The question type can be a fill in the blank type, choosing the right answer or listing down two or more main ideas.

Jumbled lines: Teachers can provide each pair of students with cards that have lines from the text, key ideas or miss-spelt words and instruct the players to arrange the lines or key points in order without referring to the text, or spelling the word correctly in an allotted time. In this activity also, different sets of questions can be created to be used by both players.

Discuss here: What are some strategies that you use to help students learn to summarize content?

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