This priming activity helps students develop familiarity with a topic and structural features of text. They must reason logically about the order of ideas in a text.
Prior to reading a passage, students receive sentence strips that make up a passage. Groups arrange the sentences in the way they think makes the most sense. Groups review each other’s arrangements and then revise their own. Students read the original text, revise their arrangement and discuss the information. Students reflect on what they learned about the topic. With younger students use 3-4 sentences.
• Developing familiarity with structural features of text
• Reasoning logically about the order of ideas in a text
• Noting relationships among sentences in a text
• Using details to infer the main idea
• Seeing how reordering sentences affects clarity and meaning
• Developing skill in reading like a writer
• Ability to engage in flexible thinking
• Experience hearing well-structured texts
• Experience with reading multi-sentence (multi-paragraph) text
• Familiarity with (almost all of) the words in the text
1. Each group gets a set of sentence strips that, together, make up a passage.
2. Groups arrange the sentences in the way they think makes the most sense.
3. Groups review each other’s arrangements, then revise own (optional).
4. Students read the original text, revise arrangements, discuss the information.
5. Students reflect on what they learned about the topic and about composing.
Related Learning Principles
• Comprehension is influenced by “priming.”
• Meaningful repetition (words, sentences) cements learning.
• The brain seeks patterns and strives for order.
• Composing and comprehension are flip sides of the same coin.
This strategy can be applied across grade levels and content areas with either narrative or expository text. Well-written texts work best. In the primary grades, use only three or four sentences, on large strips; read these aloud with students and do the rearranging as group. At other levels, to differentiate instruction, give groups different texts, matched to their reading levels.
Source: The original source is not known. For more information, see D. Nessel and J. Baltas, Thinking Strategies for Student Achievement (Skylight, 2000).