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Chapter 7: Chunking

Chunking makes sense.  Stories, chapters, news articles, and even short excerpts can be overwhelming for people who don't consider themselves to be "readers."  I see this strategy as being useful when students read poems ("The Raven" comes to mind.).  If they chunk their reading by stanza, they will be able to grasp the surface meaning and then dig deeper with each stanza.  Also, I see this strategy being extremely useful when learners read historical speeches that contain unfamiliar vocabulary, historical references, and archaic sentence patterns. Taking time to read and understand one phrase or sentence at a time would be beneficial in understanding the whole text, as opposed to the teacher just explaining what the whole speech is about.

Comments

Susan Finn Miller's picture
One hundred

Hi Gerry and all, Yes! I agree 100%. I see chunking as essential since we are now bringing more challenging "complex texts" into our classrooms. I have been applying this technique with the learners I teach (i.e., English learners reading on a third grade level as per TABE). One thing I've found helpful is to, whenever possible, number the paragraphs. I can do this if we are using texts found online. Numbering the paragraphs makes it easier to chunk and quicker to reference during discussion.

When using shorter texts with lower level students, I number the sentences.

Cheers, Susan

Moderator, Assessment CoP

 

Gerry Gotham's picture
First

I have students number paragraphs as well.  I find it is a good opportunity to review what a paragraph looks like, block vs. traditional, and the practices of the numbering and chunking can be easily transferred to writing assignments.

Dr. Holly Sawyer's picture
Ten

Hi Susan,

Thanks for these tips! yes

Holly

Rachel Baron's picture
One hundred

I like the idea of numbering paragraphs (I just ran into an issue the other day because some students counted the introduction as the first paragraph and others didn't, so they were looking at different "third paragraphs"). I also like to point out the ways that the author has already chunked the material. My students mostly seem able to notice and use headings if I point them out once or twice, but I'm working to help them realize that paragraphs themselves are ways of chunking the material. When we read nonfiction, I encourage the students to write a word or phrase next to each paragraph that gives the topic of the paragraph so that they can better see the overall structure of the text. This helps with summarizing, too.

Meryl Becker-Prezocki's picture
One hundred

Hi Rachel,

Sometimes the students may be using a text that they cannot make any marks on.   When that happens, I suggest that they use post-it notes for their writing.  I find that works well and usually the students like using them.  

Meryl, SME

Rachel Baron's picture
One hundred

That's a good idea, Meryl. That might also be a good time to use the metacognitive log--they could put "paragraph 1" on the left side and "this paragraph is mostly about ______________." on the right side. I'm trying to work myself up to introducing the log to my students, especially since it's something that they could do on the dry-erase pads on the GED test if they had to make sense of something.

Susan Finn Miller's picture
One hundred

Hi Rachel and Meryl and all, I really like the idea of having the students write a word or phrase that captures the main point of a paragraph. It has worked well for me to have students turn to a partner and tell the partner what a paragraph is mainly about, which encourages conversation about the text. I am thinking that writing a word or phrase first could enhance the conversation and the learning.You could definitely use the metacognitive logs for this purpose.

Thanks for the idea, Rachel!

Cheers, Susan

Moderator, Assessment CoP

randomness