The what’s important teaching strategy is a fantastic way to help students learn. It can be hard for students to determine what’s important in their classroom readings. Use this strategy to help them become confident readers of informational texts.
How Does The What’s Important Teaching Strategy Work?
- Prepare the text that you are going to have students summarize using the What’s Important strategy. All students should have access to it. Make individual copies, you can use a passage from students’ textbooks, project it on the overhead, or data projector etc.–just make sure all students can easily read and refer back to it.
- Have students carefully read through the passage. This can be done individually or as a class.
- Have students (individually or in small groups) make a list of the important points in the passage.
- Each student should then independently rank these points from the most to the least important.
- Next students get together in groups of two to four and discuss their lists of points and rankings. Students can rerank, rewrite, add to, or subtract from their lists of points. Consider having them create new groups for this step if they worked in groups for the first part.
- Students use their revised lists to write a summary of the original passage.
How Do I Use The What’s Important Teaching Strategy?
- When reading and learning new information. This strategy helps improve their summarizing skills, it also is a great way to help students retain new information. Students have not only read the material, but they have also discussed, debated, reread, reworked, rewritten, and summarized it.
- When teaching note-taking: One of the most difficult portions of teaching note-taking is getting students to pull the important information out of the passages they read without just recopying everything the author wrote. Whether you have your students write a final summary paragraph or use outline notes to create their summary, this activity is a great way to help students learn to pull the important information out of reading.
Why Do I Love This Strategy?
- Students don’t feel as if they are wrong because their original lists are just drafts and then they talk and choose to make the changes on their own, students don’t feel like they are wrong or having their mistakes pointed out.
- Summarizing is a challenge for many students. This strategy breaks this important skill down into parts, so students can conquer it successfully.
- Summarizing can be hard and informational texts are often not students’ favourite things to read. What’s Important gets students talking and debating, and thus makes summarizing more fun.
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