Ready Students for the Text

Internet Treasure Hunt

Prior to engaging your class in reading a text, have the students do some online research to develop their background knowledge about the text.  Provide students with some preliminary information, such as the title.  Depending on the level of your students, you may also guide their search by providing them with some search questions.  Questions may include gaining information about the author, the plot, the setting, and reviews.  In developing the students’ background knowledge of the text, students will be engaging in skimming and scanning skills. 

This activity will also help develop other academic skills such as evaluating, networking, and citing sources, deciphering between fact and opinion, and better understanding the author’s perspective.  Depending on your students, it may be important to do this activity in class to help ensure that students use the target language in their search.

Sample Activity

Twenty Questions

To introduce students to a text, provide your class the title and some snippets of the text; you could also use images and video or radio clips that relate to the text.  Put students into small groups to come up with 20 questions they have about the text based on the information provided to them.  The questions could be related to topics like the plot, setting, events, characters, and vocabulary/unclear phrases.  Have the students write their questions on a large sheet of paper that gets hung up on the classroom wall.  As students read, they should try to answer their questions (or those from another group).  After the students have read the text, they can discuss their findings with their groups. With a longer text or book, this could be done with various sections of the book.  With a shorter text, you may want to reduce the number of questions students need to come up with. This might be a nice time to review question formation.

Sample Activity

Memory Game

Before reading a  narrative, the teacher prepares a deck of cards with narrative text structure words and their written definition. Students play a memory game and as part of the game have to quickly skim the words and definitions to determine if they have found a match. For example, "Setting: Establishes when and where the story takes place."  "Crisis: A decisive point in the plot, upon which the outcome hinges; a turning point."

After students play the game and are familiar with narrative text structure vocabulary, they can then be asked to organize the cards based on their typical place in the story hierarchy (e.g. setting,  characters is generally at the top).

This activity focuses on skimming and narrative text structure awareness (comprehension strategy).  Variations of this game could include matching book titles with back cover blurbs, genre with book titles, or characters with quotations.

Sample Activity

Caption Creation

Before reading, provide relevant scenes or images to students associated with the upcoming text.  Students interpret the images and write captions to accompany the images or students select the most appropriate caption based on three provided by the teacher.  The class shares captions and answers.

Note: An excellent source for digital textbooks is the International Children's Digital Library []

Variation: Class is given a blank comic strip and asked to interpret images. Students could be asked to write dialogue or select the most logical dialogue based on the image. Two great sites to make free comic strips are o

Sample Activity

Stop-and-Go Strategizing

This activity guides students to read a passage three times, each time in more detail (i.e. from a quick green light reading to the most detailed red light reading). Using a graphic organizer, students are guided to go from a simple main idea to a more detailed summary of the reading based on the notes made during their multiple readings. 

Sample Activity

Vocabulary Round-Up

Write the title of the reading on the board, a direct and open-ended question following it, and ask students to think for a few moments about what kind of vocabulary might be in the text. Then have students write different words on sticky notes, silently placing them on a wall where columns have been labeled with headings such as “setting,” ”characters,” ”plot,” etc.

Sample Activity