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To Understand List

The "To Understand List" is a forum for discussing Ellin Keene's latest book To Understand: New Horizons in Reading Comprehension. The discussion is progressing chapter by chapter with approximately two weeks for each chapter.

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Determining Importance

Finding Important Information

Comprehension Strategy: Determining Importance
Lesson: Finding Important Information

Days 1-5:
Read nonfiction books aloud to students. After the reading of each book talk to students about what you think some of the important information is. Talk about the illustrations in the books, too. Point out any characteristics of the illustrations, such as labeling, graphs charts, etc. Once students have the idea start to ask them to share what they think was important. (This can last longer or shorter than five days depending on your students.)

Day 6
Tell students that reading nonfiction books can be really hard because there are new ideas in every sentence. When really good readers read nonfiction books that have lots of new ideas in them they have to think hard about which ideas are most important. Tell them that you are going to show them how you do this. Reread one of the nonfiction books you have previously read. As you read record the facts you think are important.

Day 7
Look at the list of important facts you made the previous day. Model for students your thinking as you choose the 4 most important facts. Stress that different people might make different choices, but talk to them about your thinking behind the choices you make.

Day 8
Have students select a book that they would like to read and write about. After they have had time to read their book, have students record important facts and put a star by the 4 most important facts. Remind students that they are going to have to think hard about which things are most important because there will be lots of new information in their book.

Days 9-10
Give each student a sheet of 12x18 white construction paper and have them fold the paper into 4 rectangles. They will record one fact in each box and then illustrate that fact. They can use ideas about illustrations from their book. They may want to label their illustrations.

Days 11-12
Have students cut apart their 4 rectangles, order and number them, make a table of contents, title page, about the author page, and cover. These can then be stapled together and become mini-research reports. You can include all or some of the parts mentioned. It may be helpful to students if you provide forms for the title page, about the author page, and table of contents.

Follow up
Students can share their reports in the whole group, in small groups, etc. Make sure that students not only share their reports, but also their thinking about why they chose the information included.

This page written and submitted by Cheri Summ.

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