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4. Recollect - Responding to Comprehension Questions

When readers become emotionally involved in a story, they will become intrigued by of its details. Retaining detailed story tidbits is not automatic, it is a skill that needs to be formally introduced and practiced. Writing an articulate, complex sentence is a building block of writing. The Acquire section of the Discovery Guide provides an opportunity for students to develop both skills over time. Students who dig into the task of building comprehension skills and to write exceptional sentences will bask in the pleasure of reading and writing.

Give your students comprehension strategies:

1. Know the Structure of Writing
Most of the time, the first sentence will give a hint about the paragraph’s topic. Because paragraphs always have a beginning, middle and end, watch for words and phrases that change the topic.

2. Make Predictions

Anticipating and predict ideas by asking question about a story as you read reinforces comprehension of the story.

3. Pay Attention to Details

 Follow the development of the characters, setting, and plot.

4. Review

Re-read sections to develop a deeper understanding.

Give your students sentence-writing strategies:

When responding to a question, reply with a complete sentence.

Example 1

Comprehension Question - Which girl thought up the hundred dresses game?

The temptation is to respond to a question with a single word. But the assignment requires that the response be a complete sentence. At first, students can be taught to mimic the verbiage of the question:

Peggy thought up the hundred dresses game.

As they become more confident, encourage students to write complex sentences:

In response to Wanda’s hundred dresses story, as a joke, Peggy thought up the game.
Peggy’s hundred dresses game was conceived to mock Wanda’s story of her hundred dresses.

Example 2

Comprehension Question - Why do Peggy and Maddie often wait for Wanda Petronski?

Another temptation is to respond with a phrase:

because they want to tease her

This is not a complete sentence. Challenge your students to revise:

Peggy and Maddie often wait for Wanda because they want to tease her.

Because Peggy and Maddie want to tease Wanda, they often wait for her.

The Acquire section will help readers:

» Make predictions about a story using clues presented in the text

» Gain understanding through the sequence, context, or characters

» Reflect by considering the main message that unfolds through the plot

» Work to clarify confusing parts of the story

» Apply what they learn by connecting the events in the story to personal experience

The Acquire section will help writers:

» Practice vivid and concrete communication

» Gain understanding of the mechanics of the sentence

» Clarify communication with increasingly complex sentences

Comprehension questions are organized chronologically, teach your students to use the questions as a pre-reading exercise, training them to watch for story details as they read. Next, have them make note of page numbers where the answers are found, this will help them to build the strategy of slowing down to attend to details in a book. Lastly, encourage your students to respond to each comprehension question with a complete sentence. Formulating a complete written response is far superior than responding to multiple choice comprehension questions.

With this in mind, the Acquire section of Blackbird and Company literature guides should not be approached as a rote exercise. Practicing the art of crafting sentences is great skill, but learning to respond to a simple question with an interesting statement is an art, and this is the potential we have built into our guides, one that we hope will be utilized. We believe like Ernest Hemingway that, "All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know."

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