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Delivering Explicit & Engaging Comprehension Mini-Lessons


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Identify what is important and why

Identify significant lines of the text and why they are important.

List ABC details

This is a two-step retelling. First students list the details they recall from the text. Then they sort and organize the details to match the sequence or structure of the passage.

Recall the gist with the Retelling Glove

After all-class or small-group instruction, move to oral writing with the knit gloves. Transition to the handout version that can be completed independently.

Retell the basic gist using key vocabulary

After reading informational text, have students retell facts and key details.

Retell details in order

For longer text, execute 2-step retellings – 1) List and 2) Sequence.

Discern the important from the interesting

After reading, students list information/details pulled directly from the original text. Details are listed in phrases, not sentences. Students attempt to jot specific details on the numbered lines in the same order they are found within the reading without looking back at the passage. Depending on the age of the reader and the length of the passage, choose from the 5-point, 10-point, and 20-point options below.

5-Point Detail List
Template | Example

10-Point Detail List
Template | Example

20-Point Detail List

Snapple Facts are interesting details.
Snapple Real Facts website

Provide a comprehensive retell with a Storyboard

Frame by frame, students retell key details in chronological order using quick pictures and key words.

Provide a comprehensive plot retelling with Story Pyramids

Before students can write a simple summary, they have to be able to provide an oral one.

Build a rubric with your students, distinguishing a strong oral retelling (Level 3) versus a weaker one (Levels 1-2).

Summarize a portion or excerpt in a paraphrase

Although a paraphrase includes specific details from the text, it is presented in the reader’s own words.

Support summary writing with a frame

Students can hone their summarizing skills by completing the Somebody… Wanted… But… So… Then… frame.

Summarize informational text

Utilize the subheadings of a longer text to generate summary after-reading.

Identify characteristics of text structures

A tweak on the traditional plot-development mountain, this graphic organizer depicts a chronological roller coaster ride that narratives follow.

Recognize the same topic presented in various informational text structures. The key is to understand how transition words and phrases indicate the organization of the information.

Summarizing Frames

Students’ oral and written summaries need to match the same text structure of the passage.

Summarize based on text structure

Summarize a nonfiction passage based on its text structure.

Information Pyramids in the different text structures may also be helpful resources.

Track the development of story elements across a text

Utilize an Interaction Tracker to record simultaneous setting, events, and character details. Then, look for cause-effect patterns to identify how the items are related.