Reading Strategies- Goals 5 and 6

Hey, guys! Happy Friday! How was your week?

This week we are reviewing goals 5 and 6. When I read the titles of the Goals, I thought, "Oh, good! I LOVE teaching comprehension" (Not to mention I like to incorporate high-yield strategies to help my students practice comprehension. I will share some of my favorites in future blog posts๐Ÿ˜‰).

Now, before I share some of my favorite goals from this week I want to let you in on a little secret. It is a time that I want to #getreal with ya' for a minute. In the past when I thought about teaching plot to first graders it made me feel like I was heading for a downward spiral (not knowing where I would land). There are SO many components, and it seemed #overwhelming on how can I make it understandable for my firsties. Can you relate? Maybe you have another #overwhelming feeling when teaching another strategy. If you do, and feel lead to share, feel free to do so in the comments. If there is a way I can help you overcome that feeling, I would LOVE to help!

After reading Goal 5, I do think I am better prepared to dive deeper into teaching plot. Now, I get to share with you a few of my favorite strategies from Goal 5.

Supporting Comprehension in Fiction

Understanding Plot and Setting

Why is this goal important? When students' read, they need to understand what is happening in the story.  I like how she used the term, "make a movie in their minds." (pg 130) What kid doesn't like to watch movies, cartoons and share about their favorite! For this to happen, students need to know what's going on, who is involved, and where the action is taking place.

I loved how she broke down the different parts of a plot. It made sense and helped me see that the #scaryterm #plot was just that, a term that I thought was scary, but one that I had been teaching my students (without using the term plot). Students may need help in understanding the plot and setting in a story. This has several different parts. 
  • If a student understands the problem and solution in a story, it will help them decide what is important.
  • Retelling/Summarizing. Serravallo mentioned that these terms are often confused and used interchangeably. I like how both terms were described. Think of retelling as an oral summary of a text using story elements. It should be sequential and will have more details than a summary. Summaries give important information without the use of much detail. 
  • When students visualize the setting, it allows them to see how to impacts the events and also see when the setting changes.
  • Synthesizing cause and effect helps the reader know what causes certain events and how they are connected to the story.

5.2 Title Power

This is such a simple strategy that can be used early on in a students' reading. With this strategy, you read the title and tell students to keep the title in mind as they read. The goal is for them to think about the events in the story that connects back to the title

It would be a great stepping stone to get students to begin thinking how the title relates to the problem in the story. I can see this being used during a read aloud. The teacher can write the title on chart paper and then use interactive writing time to reflect on the problem that relates to the title. 

5.4 Uh-oh... Phew

I have to say this might have been one of my favorite strategies that are suitable for first grade. The language used in the prompts is kid friendly, and catchy so I see it being one that is easy for them to remember. 

It works like this....when students' retell the story they need to think about the problem (uh-oh), how it gets worse (UH-OH!) and how it gets solved (phew). Using the story mountain with the retell allows students to retell the story while touching the parts of the mountain as they retell. 

This strategy has students thinking about the problem using fewer words than retelling the whole story. I do believe that it will take practice with first graders. Most of the time, they either want to tell every detail they can think of or it is like pulling teeth trying to get them to say much of anything. If we can work on this type of summarizing at an earlier grade level, I do believe it will help when they have to do it on standardized tests. 

5.7 Series Books Have Predictable Plots

This is a great goal to practice for students who are reading chapter books. When students find a series they like, it allows them to think about the different problems the characters might face and how they will solve the problem

One of my favorite short chapter books I read aloud to my students is Roscoe Riley Rules.  My students love all of the books in the series. If you have never read one, Roscoe is ALWAYS getting himself into a predicament. Roscoe tells his story from his "time-out" chair. So, we know it is a guarantee Roscoe will get in trouble at some point in time in the book and will end up in time-out. 

The prompts included in this goal is perfect for several different chapter books. A few books that I think would work well is Magic Tree House, Junie B. Jones, Cam Jansen, and Zoey & Sassafrass (one I hope to add to my collection this summer). 

Is there a chapter book series you thought would work with one of the goals? If so, please share. I LOVE finding new books to read. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Supporting Comprehension in Fiction

Thinking About Characters

Characters develop during a story. It is also connected to plot development.  When reading, we want our students to pay attention to the details the author is sharing about the characters. This will help to discover who they are. Students' must be able to use inferencing skills to help with this discovery. 

One of my favorite parts of this goal can be found on page 164 when she broke down what a student should be able to do based on their reading level. #helptakeguessworkout of character development. I am sharing a few of the levels below but left off past level N. 

Level E-J: characters tend to be simple. At this level, students should be able to describe the character using simple language like, "he is sad," "he likes to play outside."
Level J/K: character feelings might change.  So, the character might be sad in the beginning but by the end of the story is happy because of an event that happened. 
Level N+: characters become multidimensional. This shows how a character can have more than one side, depending on the setting of the story.

6.2 What's in the Bubble?

This is such a fun goal and will be easy to adjust depending on the reading level of your group. It allows students to begin thinking what the character is thinking (even when the words on the page don't tell us).

I love how she suggests using sticky notes to flag pages to help hold their thinking. The use of speech bubbles on sticks is an easy way to have students pause and talk about what the character might be thinking. Upper levels can write in the bubbles.

This goal would be easy to incorporate independently and with a partner.

6.3 Put On the Character's Face

How much fun do you think this would be to incorporate in your classroom? I think my students would love making a face to fit an emotion for a poster.  Almost every year I have at least one student who struggles with showing (or knowing) their feelings. This activity would be a great visual connection. It would allow them to point to an emotion that matches the character AND can make the same face themselves. 

6.7 Role-Playing Character to Understand them Better

This is such a fun way for students to get to know characters in a story better. I can see it being an extension activity.  (I would probably want them to read the story for 2 days before tackling this activity independently), When students are ready, they could work in pairs during a literacy station to choose a scene and act it out. They would LOVE this. Depending on their reading level you could even have them write out a simple script of what they want to say during the scene. If you have the technology available, another student could record their scene using an iPad. My students LOVE activities where they can be creative and share with their classmates. 

Well, that is a few of my favorite strategies for this week. What was your favorite takeaway? Is there a goal that seems overwhelming? Feel free to share! I can't wait to read your thoughts for the week. 



  1. I'll be honest, I didn't give much thought to these strategies because they aren't in my level, but your highlights make them seem a little more applicable! I love learning about these strategies from those of you who use them!

  2. Hi Kara! I'm late getting around to read the link ups--crazy busy weekend. I liked the Uh-oh! Whew! also. You're right about the catchy language used in these strategies. I think it will definitely help it stick with my kiddos!


  3. You wrote of feeling overwhelmed about teaching plot. I'm not sure why, but I felt somewhat overwhelmed as I read through Goal 6, Thinking about Characters. For me, this has been the most difficult chapter to get through. It just seemed like over-the-top character scrutiny, which probably points to some needed growth in ME as I think about characters in stories! I did note a few strategies that I would like to try, though (6.1, 6.2, 6.5, and a deeper version of 6.12). Your enthusiasm and transparency are much appreciated!

  4. Excellent post on Goals. I am very happy to read. Thanks for providing great information. Thanks.