Best Book I Have Not Read

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Textmapping Project October 19, 2008

Filed under: comprehension,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:19 pm
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I came across the following website mentioned in the e-mail newsletter I belong to for Mosaic of Thought. It asks us to “Please share this site with your colleagues!” The Textmapping Project. Below is an example from the website I thought was pretty interesting. 

Mapping a Scroll 

Bullet point. Red arrow pointing the the right. Mapping is a specific form of marking that focuses on describing text features in spatial terms. 

Bullet point. Red arrow pointing the the right. The value of mapping is that it enables comprehension to be modeled in great detail. It makes the structure of information clear. It is the illustration of comprehension. It provides an effective way of showing students what good readers do to build good comprehension.

Bullet point. Red arrow pointing the the right. The first step in mapping a scroll is to decide what it is that you wish to accomplish. What is your instructional goal? Is there important information that you want your students to understand? Are there strategies or techniques that you wish to model for the class? Is your goal to…

  • introduce and preview new content?
  • model reading and study strategies?
  • review content previously covered?
  • test your students’ knowledge of what they read?
  • or something else?

Bullet point. Red arrow pointing the the right. Once you have completed the first step and you know what you need to accomplish, the remaining steps are very simple. In general, you will follow a three-step process:

1. Identify features that are relevant to your purpose. Think about their significance to your purpose.

Drawing of an scroll with arrows drawn pointing to each of the headings.

You  and your students  will have a much easier time recognizing and identifying features on a scroll. You will be surprised by the difference; features seem to pop out at you, and the purpose and significance of different features will become instantly obvious.

2. Mark them.

Drawing of a scroll with each heading highlighted and circled.

It is important that you actually mark the features. Simply noticing a feature is not sufficient. Students  and teachers  who are just beginning to learn about Textmapping commonly are lazy about marking; and it shows. Once you have practiced Textmapping for a while, you will understand just how direct is the connection between marking and active reading. You will find that the more you mark, the more actively-engaged you will become with the text.

3. Mark their areal extent. Stand back and look at what you have done. In the example below, notice that the sections are now more clearly distinguished. You can instantly see which sections are longer. This, in turn, provides useful information about how the illustrations relate to the flow of ideas in the text.

Drawing of a scroll with a box drawn around each section. Illustrates how drawing a box around each section makes it easier to see at a glance how the sections compare in terms of size and typographic context.

This marking step is critical. Many students have commented that as soon as they draw a box around an illustration, or a section, or the answer to a question, that chunk  in their words  “stops moving,” and “is a lot easier to find.” In essence, what they are saying is that drawing a box around chunks of information accomplishes two things. First, it says, “Everything in here goes together.” Second, it defines in spatial terms how the boxed-in chunk relates to the other chunks around it, as well as to the text as a whole. Many students find this very helpful. It defines a text in simple, graphic terms  in a way that is explicit and concrete. In effect, it says, “These are the pieces, and here’s how they fit together.”

Try applying the active reading and metacognitive strategies that you already know and teach. Use these strategies to guide and inform your marking activities.
For example, try using SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review). Notice how different SQ3R feels when practiced on a scroll! Notice how being able to see the entire text changes the process for you  how it makes thingsexplicit and concrete. Notice how standing and moving around changes the way that you interact with the text  how it contrasts with sitting still to read a book.


Mosaic of Thought

Filed under: comprehension strategies,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 3:20 pm
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I get a daily newsletter from the Reading Lady’s Mosaic of Thought that brings thought and ideas from fans of the Mosaic of Thought and other like-minded individuals. If you are interested in joining this listserv the address is

or you can check out all the great resources of all types at The Reading Lady’s Mosaic of Thought page . She also has pages dedicated to reader’s theatre and other related language arts


Continent Ocean project

Filed under: school — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:46 am
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This project just came home with my fourth grade daughter and it reminded me that it would be a good thing to share with teachers of that age group for back to school. This is actually the sixteenth year this project has been done by some or all of the fourth grade in my town. It was actually thought up by my friend Sara who used to teach fourth grade with me (and now teaches drama at the high school!). The thought process behind the project is pretty simple, but reveals so much about your students. Students are given a full size green construction paper and are asked to draw freehand (not trace) the continents’ outline on the paper. They then cut them out, glue them to a full-size blue paper and label them with the correct continent and ocean label. What’s the big deal you might be wondering, but I’m always amazed what I can find out about a child when they do this project. This project was traditionally done during the first six days of school during individual reading interviews. 

How is their eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills when it comes to drawing and cutting?

Can they copy labels from one source to another?

Are they careful in their work habits when they are working on the project?

Who is done in 30 minutes (the rusher) and who is not done in three days (the perfectionist)?

Anyway, you get the idea. Nothing very time consuming, expensive, or fancy, but very information rich in the getting to know you part of the year.