PURPOSE: To teach students a fun and effective strategy for reading and comprehending their textbooks. It is also a great strategy for demonstrating to students how using memory strategies can help them recall and retain information.
SUPPLIES AND SETUP: You will need at least 4-5 pages of any information you would like a group of students to read and comprehend. Provide a copy for each student in the class or have them use their text book. Each student also needs a highlighter or a pen or pencil.
1. Instruct students to silently read any headings as well as the first and last sentences of each paragraph of the designated text. (5-7 minutes)
2. Now ask students to write questions in the margins and highlight the answers in the text. (5-7 minutes)
3. Have students form two groups and choose seven questions from all group members’ questions that they think will stump the other team. (5-7 minutes)
4. Now it is time to play the game. Here are the instructions:
- The instructor will act as scorekeeper.
- Teams will take turns asking each other a question.
- When one team asks the question, the other team has one minute to come up with the answer. Team members may consult with each other when the question is asked. Anyone in the group may answer the question at any point within the one-minute time limit. The team being asked the question may not refer to the document to find the answer. If the responding team answers the question correctly, they win one point.
- This process continues until all 14 questions have been asked. The team with the most points at the end wins the game.
5. Lead a discussion about what the students learned from doing this activity.
OUTCOMES/EXPERIENCES: Many of my students responded that they were amazed that they had 1) remembered so much information and so many details without referring back to the document, 2) remembered so much in such a short period of time. When asked how this had happened, most offered that it was because they had reviewed the material so many times. The class had recently studied memory strategies and why it is important to use them. So this was a very good example of how repeating or reviewing, over learning and rehearsing information gets it into the long-term memory. Not only do these strategies get information into the long-term memory, they help us work on and organize that information in the long-term memory, which enables us to better retrieve the information when needed. If information is stored in the long-term memory in an unorganized manner and without cues, it will be difficult to retrieve that information.
Many of my students confess that they fall asleep or that their minds drift while reading. Formulating questions and highlighting answers, as they do in this activity, gets them involved in the reading. If they are reading alone, they can substitute the game for their own review session. They can simply formulate the questions, look at and recite the question, cover up the answer or look away and see if they can answer the question. If they find they cannot answer the question, they know they need to review some more. Many of the students have told me that they find the strategy useful for reading their textbooks, even the texts that had previously put them to sleep.
LESSONS LEARNED: Once again I observed that when students participate in a well-designed activity, they are empowered to learn and take responsibility for their own learning. As an instructor I have learned that I must always seek well-designed activities so that optimal learning can occur.
Finally, I believe that this activity teaches personal responsibility. Students learn that they are responsible for their reading experiences. They can be instructed how to use several strategies, but they have to be responsible for utilizing those principles and for getting the outcomes they desire. Several of my students have mentioned to me that they feel more empowered. They realize that not only are they responsible for their outcomes and experiences, they are responsible for doing whatever is necessary to achieve them. This was another tool they can use to achieve those desired results.
–Angela Williams, Student Development Specialist, University of Arkansas, AR