Sequencing: A Strategy to Succeed at Reading Comprehension
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In Steve Kellogg's version of the classic tall tale Paul Bunyan, the title character travels the country wreaking havoc and creating national landmarks. Like most stories, Paul Bunyan has a definite sequence of events. Students gain a deeper understanding of the story by exploring this sequence. In this lesson, students listen to a reading of the story and take notes about the sequence of events as they follow along. After reading the story, students are invited to the chalkboard or flipchart to write one story event. All the events are assigned to student pairs, and students work together to put these events in sequential order on an informal timeline. Students then further explore sequence by writing a journal entry about how sequence can help increase their comprehension when reading.
From Theory to Practice
- Students increase their comprehension of texts as they talk, draw, or write about what they have read.
- Visual structures that organize information in a logical way help to improve comprehension by providing concrete representations of concepts.
- Metacognition, or self-directed thinking, helps students understand the importance of comprehension strategies.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
- 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
Materials and Technology
- Paul Bunyan by Steven Kellogg (William Morrow, 1984)
- Computer with Internet access and LCD projector
- Butcher paper
- Plain white paper
- Glue or stapler
|Read and familiarize yourself with the story of Paul Bunyan. Paul Bunyan is a tall tale about a baby who grows up to be a man with extraordinary size and strength. He uses these abilities in unusual ways, such as wrestling bears and digging lakes. The picture book by Steven Kellogg works very well with sequence of events because of the many memorable things Paul does throughout the story.
|Hang butcher paper on an empty wall to create a strip of paper long enough for students to each have room to stand in front of the paper in a line. (The paper can be cut in half lengthwise to create a longer segment out of two narrower pieces.)
|Set up the computer and LCD projector.
- Listen to the story of Paul Bunyan while focusing on the important events in the story
- Write complete sentences and draw illustrations describing events from the story
- Work with their classmates to discover the sequence of events by putting the illustrations in order on the class timeline
- Write journal entries about how finding the sequence in a story helps increase their understanding
Instruction and Activities
|Ask the students if they have ever read any tall tales. Then ask why they think these stories are called tall tales. Discuss this genre of stories with the class and then introduce the story of Paul Bunyan by showing examples of illustrations from the Paul Bunyan: The Giant Lumberjack website with an LCD projector. This website allows users to page through a series of vignettes about Paul Bunyan and his adventures.
|Read the picture book Paul Bunyan by Steven Kellogg to the class. Students may follow along if there is a class set available.
|Guide students to focus on the events that take place in the story and the order in which they occur. Students can take notes during reading, or listen first and then participate in a class discussion about the story to follow.
|After reading the story, have the students come up to the chalkboard or flipchart one by one to list events from the story. If time is limited, you can write down the events on the chalkboard as students say them.
|After listing as many events from the story as possible, have each student select a particular event. Make sure that all events are assigned to at least one student in the class. Students may also be grouped in pairs to work on this part of the lesson.
|Introduce the concept of sequence to the class and explain that this is a strategy that they are going to use to understand what they have read. Explain that they are going to build a "human" timeline to review the sequence of events in the story of Paul Bunyan.
|Give each student or pair of students a blank sheet of plain white paper, and have them work together to write one complete sentence describing the event from the story.
|After students finish writing their sentences, give them about 15 minutes to draw detailed illustrations of the scenes in which the events took place.
|Begin the timeline process by having students divide themselves up into three groups based on when their event happened in the story: beginning, middle, or end.
|In each group, have students work together to decide the sequence of events. When the group has a tentative order, they are to sit in a line in their order.
|Students can then share their sentences and their drawings with the class, and the class may make changes to the location of the students along the timeline of Paul Bunyan.
|When the class has decided on a sequence for the events, have each student attach his or her drawing to the chart paper timeline hanging on the wall using glue or a stapler. Also, the students can count off in line and number their drawings to reinforce the sequence of events.
|As a closing activity, have students write short journal entries about how this activity helped them to better understand the story of Paul Bunyan.
- On a blank map of the United States, trace the trail of Paul Bunyan as he experiences his adventures. Blank maps are available at NationalAtlas.gov.
- Download copies of a cloze activity about Paul Bunyan for students to complete. You may also choose to have students complete the cloze activity as a class.
- Read and discuss the sequence of other tall tales at the Tall Tales of American Folklore website.
- Further explore tall tales using the ArtsEdge lesson plan, Tall Tales Today. In this lesson, students learn about the characteristics of tall tales and write their own tall tale set in contemporary America.
- Second-grade students may enjoy using the online Timeline tool to put together the sequence of events from the story of Paul Bunyan. The timeline tool can also be used to sequence events from other stories or students' own personal experiences.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Observe students' participation in the discussion of the story and sequence activities.
- Review students' writing and illustrations that describe the event from Paul Bunyan.
- Assess students' completed journal assignments reflecting on ways that thinking about the sequence of events helped support their learning and understanding.