Using the Check and Line Method to Enhance Reading Comprehension
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Careful monitoring of content area reading assignments can significantly increase comprehension and retention of the information, but students are often not consciously aware of their understanding. The Check and Line method described in this lesson encourages awareness by requiring readers to place a light pencil check in the margin if they have understood the line of text, and a dash or line if they have not. At the end of the paragraph, students use the GMR method to go back, motivate their brains, and reread any text marked with a line. If they are still confused after rereading, they can turn to an outside source-a peer, a teacher, or a print or online resource. The end result is that students pay closer attention when reading, thus increasing their comprehension and retention of the text.
From Theory to Practice
- Many students skim assigned text material quickly, failing to think about what they are reading. Teachers need to integrate a method whereby students discipline themselves to notice what they are reading and monitor their own comprehension of the information.
- When students are consciously aware of their understanding, they are mentally aware while reading and can monitor their own comprehension.
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.
- 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).
- 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
Materials and Technology
- Computers with Internet access and printing capability
- Butcher paper for K-W-L chart
- Grade-appropriate textbook for assigned reading
- Dictionaries (and other appropriate reference materials for the subject area)
Before beginning this lesson, determine a reasonable amount of text for students to read independently. The assigned text should relate to the topic that you are currently teaching. Also, prepare a sheet of butcher paper for the K-W-L chart and attach it to the chalkboard or bulletin board.
- Complete assigned reading
- Relate prior knowledge to the reading
- Comprehend the reading
- Retain new information
Instruction and Activities
|Begin the lesson with a whole-class discussion on how students can read textual information to assist them in understanding a new topic. (Lead students to understand that reading their texts can help them further understand the subject matter that teachers are required to cover during the course of the school year.)
|Relate this discussion of the purpose of reading texts to a current topic that you are covering in class.
|Point to a section of text related to the current topic and have students skim the selection. Ask them to point out what types of information are covered in the text. For example, some students may notice a graphic explanation, while others may point out the boldface definitions.
|Begin a K-W-L chart on the topic presented in the reading. Complete the first two columns by asking students, "What do you know about ?" and "What do you want to know about ?"
|Introduce the check and line method to students. As Dunn states, "This system allows students to monitor their comprehension line by line by placing a light pencil check in the marginal white space beside the line if they fully understand it and a dash or line if they do not. They then continue reading to the end of the paragraph and return to the lines that stumped them for rereading" (p.169). If students are still confused after rereading, they can seek help from an outside source such as a peer buddy, a teacher or parent, or a print or online resource, such as Dictionary.com. The key is for them to become mentally aware of their reading and learn how to monitor their own comprehension.
|Model the check and line method with a small section from the text to show students exactly how it works. When you finish going through the text the first time, introduce the acronym GMR, which stands for go back, motivate your brain, and reread. This method can be used as a reminder when returning to the "-" marks in the margins. Display the acronym and its meaning somewhere in the classroom where all students can easily see it from their desks.
|Assign students to independently read the remainder of the assigned text selection and apply the check and line method while reading. Circulate the room while students are reading to assist those students who are struggling or need further instruction. Make sure that students are also applying the GMR method, and encourage them to go back, motivate their brain, and reread the parts that they originally marked with a line. Assist students in using alternate resources or a peer buddy to clarify meaning.
|After reading, have students record any new information that they learned from the text using the interactive Stapleless Book. As part of their stapleless book, have students also reflect on how the check and line method helped them to learn and understand this new information. The printed version of the book serves as a good reference for students' later study, as well as an easy way for teachers to assess each student's comprehension of the reading and understanding of the check and line method.
|Return to a whole-class discussion and record the "L" section of the K-W-L chart by asking students "What did you learn about ?"
Have students use the check and line and GMR methods when reading other content-area texts independently. Continued use of these methods will help students incorporate them as a standard practice when reading their texts.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Teacher observation during whole-class discussion and independent reading
- Anecdotal records
- Stapleless Book to ensure that the student completed the reading and applied the check and line method
- Teacher-made test (fill in the blank, multiple choice, true/false, written response) following the reading to assess comprehension of the information