Students must be able to read complex texts in science, social studies, math, and other technical courses with independence and confidence. Having these skills will prepare them for the sophisticated nonfiction they will encounter in college and the workforce.

Before studAligned with College and Career Ready Standardsents can analyze, evaluate, argue, and synthesize texts, they need to first comprehend them on a foundational level. That initial level of understanding is outlined in Common Core Disciplinary Literacy Reading Standard 2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

To build students’ reading skills in these areas, check out this scaffold of strategies:

  1. Before students can put main ideas into their own words, assess that they can literally recall details from the text. Have students list specific details and vocabulary terms. They can jot these details on an ABC Chart or before generating a 20-Word Gist.
  2. After identifying the important details of a text through recall, students should be Summarize with Funnel Analogyable to generalize the text highlights without looking back. This includes the essential 5Ws (e.g., who, what, where, when, why). Students can note these details using the Retelling Glove.
  3. Using a funnel analogy shared by sixth grade teacher Lisa Smith at Patoka Elementary School (Marengo, IN), teach students how to go from a several-sentence summary to a single-sentence main idea.
  4. Then allow students to try the skill by using shrinking sticky notes (as shared previously by Willowcreek Middle School teacher Kate Bieker). Or, for those with access to computers, utilize the Word version that Zionsville Middle School teacher Dan Myers developed for students to type directly into.

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