This is an interactive pre-reading strategy that frontloads students’ knowledge of text information and also allows them to become familiar with phrasing and content words. It was adapted from Kylene Beer’s book “When Kids Can’t Read.” The strategy can be used with both narrative and expository texts.
1. From the text about to be read, choose and copy _____ meaningful words, phrases, and or sentences onto large index cards or heavyweight paper. (The amount of info chosen should represent half of your class number since you will provide duplicates so each student can have his/her own.)
2. Show the stack of cards/papers and explain that each student will have his/her own and there are different words, phrases, and sentences on each set of cards
3. Review the directions for the activity with the students:
ü after the cards are distributed, you will share your card by reading it orally with one student at a time
ü when you have finished reading your card, listen carefully as your partner shares his/hers the same way
ü quickly discuss how these cards are related
ü move to a new partner and go through the same steps—share your card by reading it aloud and then listen carefully to the contents of your new partner’s card
ü with each new partner talk about any how all the cards are related and what they collectively all might be about
ü add any new ideas you have based on your prior experiences
4. Distribute the cards face down and tell them you will call time when you are
sure they have mingled and discussed with enough students.
5. Give the students one minute to turn their card over and read it silently to
themselves. (see variation offered on page two under Additional Information)
6. Once you signal the start of the activity, all students should be out of their
seats and moving. (Use your judgment—use a clicker, bell, or timer alarm, to
signal when students should move to their new partner—if they seem to have
a difficult time doing the transitioning. Alert the students prior to the activity
if you intend to monitor their time with each partner.)
7. Signal the end of the activity and have the students move into small discussion
groups of no more than five to do the following:
ü discuss what you heard and what connections were made with your card
ü brainstorm possible predictions about the reading they are about to do
ü explain what specific words/phrases/sentences helped create the predictions
ü add any person experience or prior knowledge a student might have shared
As Kylene Beers points out on page 98 of her text, students are doing all of the above plus sequencing events, considering causes of actions, and the effects of those actions as well as taking an active role in meaning making well before even reading the selection.
If students are going to have a particularly difficult time decoding the text, make a change. Instead of the one-minute immediately after the distribution of cards to preview and practice, extend the time. Have the cards color-coded so each student can find other students with the same card and practice together before they actually begin the sharing part of the activity.
For teachers using narrative texts, be sure to choose the information for the cards, which will illuminate character, setting, and conflicts.
Teachers can also give a framework for the expository readings if it works better. In place of the small group prediction statement, the students grouped their cards by category—causes, effects, groups/people involved, problems associated with each of those groups. The categories above can be used with a war reading. Categories need to be adjusted based on the content.
Whether working with narrative or expository texts, use the exact words from the text to be placed on the cards and look for words or phrases with more than one meaning.