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The Textmapping Project
A resource for teachers improving reading comprehension skills instruction
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London Metropolitan University: Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.
Georgia Department of Education: Framework for English Language Arts, Fifth Grade.
Teachers.net Gazette: Cheryl Sigmon's June 2008 column, and her May 2008 column on Differentiated Instruction.
Infinite Thinking Machine: first segment, first episode!
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development: in Differentiation in Practice: A Resource Guide for Differentiating Curriculum, Grades 9-12, by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Cindy A. Strickland.
Rossella Grenci: in Le aquile sono nate per volare, published by Edizioni La Meridiana.
Creative Commons: Featured Content of the Week, 8/23/03
National Council of Teachers of English: Hot Topics Spotlight
University of North Carolina School of Education: lesson plan
State of Michigan: MiCLASS training program for middle school teachers
Syracuse University: Tutoring and Study Center
and many more...
The purpose of this lesson guide is to help you develop one or more lesson plans designed to teach students the skills they need to recognize and use unit-level text structure to inform and guide their comprehension of textbook content.
This lesson guide includes the following:
It is recommended that you read the Standard Instruction Set: Textbook Skills [http://www.textmapping.org/LessonPlans/1000.html] before proceeding.
This lesson planning guide is copyrighted under the CCPL [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0]. It is offered here for free and may be printed, copied, republished, redistributed, and improved upon provided you give proper attribution [http://www.textmapping.org/copyright.html#properAttribution] and do not charge a fee to others to whom you provide either copies or derivative works. For more about this, read the Guidelines for Using Our Content [http://www.textmapping.org/copyright.html#howToUseContent] on our copyright [http://www.textmapping.org/copyright.html] page.
Students will demonstrate, by a combination of marking the scroll and providing oral answers to your questions, that they know how to:
Choose the unit to present to your class.
Photocopy all of the pages of the chosen unit.
Use glue stick or clear cellophane tape to attach the photocopied pages together in a left-to-right scroll.
Hang the scroll on your classroom blackboard, whiteboard, bulletin board or wall; or unroll it on a long row of tables, or on the floor.
Conduct either a discovery-based or guided walkthrough of the unit [see below].
Use colored markers, highlighters, or crayons to map the scroll. For more on this, read about mapping [http://www.textmapping.org/mapping.html] a scroll.
For more detailed instructions, see the "Get Started" section of the Standard Instruction Set: Textbook Skills [http://www.textmapping.org/LessonPlans/1000.html#getStarted].
Below are some tasks and questions to use while introducing your students to the scroll. The tasks and questions are annotated and linked to the lesson objectives. Task and questions are provided for two approaches: discovery-based learning and guided learning [see below]. For further guidance, you may wish to read through the "Guidelines" section of the Standard Instruction Set: Textbook Skills [http://www.textmapping.org/LessonPlans/1000.html#guidelines].
Can you identify the unit-level features in this text? [Objective 1]
How do you know that each feature you have identified is a unit-level feature? [Objective 1]
Have your students draw a circle or box around each feature or text chunk as it is identified, but have them hold off on mapping [http://www.textmapping.org/mapping.html] the areal extent of text blocks until they have completed this discovery-based exercise.
As your students survey the text for features, sit back and watch. Notice how they proceed: Top down? Bottom up? Random? For example, do they start at the top level, and identify the unit introduction, the main content, and the unit review; or do they dive right in and start identifying very small chunks of information within the chapters? Ultimately, you want them to learn how to use a top down approach, but it is certainly acceptable for them to arrive at that conclusion on their own, after a more extended bottom up or random process.
Keep a running list of the features they identify. When they say they are finished identifying features, apply the following test to each one: "Is this a unit-level feature, or does it fit lower in the hierarchy, such as in a chapter?". There may be many instances of some types of features, some of which are unit-level and some of which are not. For example, an illustration that is located on the first page of the unit, and speaks to the theme of the unit, would be considered a unit-level feature; most illustrations in the unit would not likely meet this unit-level test. Allow for debate and discussion. When students offer an opinion, ask them to explain their reasoning by pointing to specific instances in the text.
Keep an eye out for features that might be difficult to categorize. For example, do the students know what to do with unit-level sidebars (assuming there are any)? Sidebars are often inserted in between chapters - and it's not always clear to students that they are standalone, unit-level features. Moreover, students often do not understand how sidebar content relates to the rest of the unit. These are connections which need to be made consciously and explicitly.
Once you are satisfied that the unit-level survey is accurate and complete, move ahead to the process of mapping [http://www.textmapping.org/mapping.html] the scroll, as described below. Note that your students will have already covered much of the work described below, so you should be able to complete these steps in very short order.
Draw a box around each of the unit-level features discovered in your survey. [Objective 1] For example:
1. Draw a box around the Unit Introduction. Explain to me how you know that the box you have drawn contains the Unit Introduction.
You want a better answer than "Because it's at the beginning of the unit." What you are really looking for is some insight from your students - because insight is what Active Reading is all about. Your goal is to get them thinking - and to get them to verbalize their thoughts so that they can learn from each other what it means to become actively engaged in a dialog with a text.
Let's assume, for example, that they have accurately identified and boxed-in the Unit Introduction. You want them to tell you what, beyond the fact that it's at the beginning of the unit, might have clued them in to the fact that this is an introduction. How do they know that it's not simply the introduction to the first chapter in the unit? How can they confirm that this chunk of text introduces the unit as a whole, rather than some part of it?
Moreover, you want them to tell you what kind of introduction this is. For example: Is it a lead-in that sets the stage? Is it a statement of some larger theme that ties together the unit? Does it preview the main points of each chapter in the unit? In short, what purpose is served by this introduction? Finally, in addition to explaining to you the purpose of this introduction, you want them to explain to you in what ways they might expect to use this introduction to guide their comprehension as they read the unit.
For more examples of this line of questioning, see Relating Introductions and Preview Points to the Text [http://www.textmapping.org/LessonPlans/1003.html].
2. Draw a box around the unit review section. Explain to me how you know that the box you have drawn contains the review section.
For questions pertaining to review sections, see the following:
3. Draw a box around each chapter in the unit. Explain to me how you know that each of the boxes you have drawn contains a complete chapter.
This is a quick check to make sure that your students understand what constitutes a chapter. For example: have they correctly included the chapter review sections within the boundaries of the chapter-boxes they have drawn? Have they incorrectly included unit-level sidebars within the boundaries of any of the chapter-boxes?
For questions pertaining to the information within chapters, see Hierarchical Structure and Types of Information within Chapters [http://www.textmapping.org/LessonPlans/1002.html], as well as the lessons that follow it in the Lesson Guides for Textbook Skills series.
If there are any sidebars, where do they fit in the hierarchy? [Objective 1]
As they look at the main content, do they know what to do with unit-level sidebars (assuming there are any)? Sidebars are often inserted in between chapters - and it's not always clear to students that they are standalone, unit-level features. Moreover, students often do not understand how sidebar content relates to the rest of the unit. These are connections which need to be made consciously and explicitly.
If they seem to either be missing the big picture or confused about the hierchical structure, refocus and start with a bottom-up, brainstorming approach: "Let's list all of the features that make up this unit." Write all of their answers down, then apply the following test to each one: "Is this a unit-level feature, or is it a chapter-level feature?" Allow for debate and discussion. When students offer an opinion, ask them to explain their reasoning.
Once you are satisfied that the unit-level survey is accurate and complete, move on to mapping the scroll ("boxes within boxes") as described below.
Have we missed anything? [Objective 1]
Now that you have boxed-in the unit-level features, the unit should be clearly divided into a series of boxed-areas. There should not be any areas remaining that are not boxed-in. If any un-boxed areas remain, they will be easy to spot. These are the areas you missed. Your students should be able to see this. If they don't see the obvious, try rephrasing the question: "How would you know if you missed something?"
Once you are satisfied that you have boxed-in all of the unit-level features, move on to the questions below.
Are the chapters all of equal length? [Objective 2]
This is a good way to start a larger discussion about the length and complexity of a text - and the implications for the reader. Students need to learn how to estimate - before plunging in and reading - how much work lies ahead. This is a critical skill for managing work load. It is also a critical skill for comprehension.
For example, you might ask your students to make some preliminary predictions about the amount of work that will be required to read through each of the chapters in the unit. Ask them to do this solely on the basis of the graphic information available to them when they view the scroll from a distance. Among the factors you should expect them to mention are the size/area of each chapter box, the number of illustrations as compared to the amount of text, the number of headings and sub-headings in each chapter, and the length and complexity of each chapter's review section.
What is the theme of this unit, and how do each of the chapters relate to the theme? [Objective 2]
The unit and chapter titles, along with the headings and illustrations in the chapters, often provide more than enough information to enable students to make reasonable predictions about the subject matter in a unit.
Ask students to make their predictions - and then ask them to explain how they arrived at their predictions. Ask them to back up their explanations by referring directly to the scroll.
Also ask them to explain how they might use this information to guide their comprehension as they read. For example, a unit in a Social Studies textbook might contain three chapters, each on a different culture. Each chapter might include a section on some aspect of religion. Students should be able to recognize that religion is a common theme in the unit. They should be able to clearly understand the difference between specific information about religion which is relevant to a single culture discussed in one of the chapters, and general information about religion which all of the cultures in the unit share in common.
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