Monday, April 7, 2014


by Connie Casserly
Grades 6-12

LANGUAGE ARTS ACTIVITY -  "What's the Idea?"
Sometimes, when trying to engage my students to discuss the book we are studying, I feel like I am a literary dentist dealing with a room full of impacted wisdom teeth.  Are my students 
  • not reading the assignments, 
  • not reading them closely enough, or 
  • not comprehending what they are reading?  
Maybe the reasons for their reticence are a mixture of all three issues.

Because my students’ factual and opinionated thoughts and interpretations about the story are important, I had to figure out why they were reluctant to respond.  I found that many times, behind their apathetic facades, lurked a lack of understanding- especially in classical more than contemporary texts.

They needed to learn how to deconstruct complicated passages so that they could understand them, and, subsequently, comprehend the whole piece.

LANGUAGE ARTS ACTIVITY -  "What's the Idea?"
This FREE activity, What’s the Idea? asks students to select a passage that they find difficult to understand. Next, the teacher divides the students into groups of four. Here, each person will share his/her confusing passage with the other three group members. The students will read and revise their group members' chosen passages for clarity.

When their original papers are returned, students will select the revision that they feel best clarifies the passage for them. After this, they will discuss - in writing – how and the revision accomplishes this. Finally they will analyze the meaning of the original passage and explain its importance to the whole piece.

Teachers can use this activity again and again to check the development of their students’ comprehension as well as how they utilize their higher level thinking skills orally and in writing.

What’s the Idea?  reduces students’ fear factor when they read challenging fiction and non-fiction. This Freebie is aligned with Common Core Standards and Bloom’s Taxonomy, and includes a detailed “Teachers’ Notes” page. 

Download this FREEBIE from From the detailed Teacher Notes page, teachers can select which Common Core Standards for Literature: College and Readiness Anchor Standards  and Bloom's Taxonomy benchmarks fit their state's standards.

Happy Teaching,

Teach it Write
Building Powerful Academic Homes

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