The effective use of text occurs when the reader has a context and a purpose to read.
Gathering information from within one text involves the reader in considering how the pieces of information found throughout the text connect and create meaning. The use of scaffolds assists students in organising the information whilst considering which information is relevant and important and enable them to work more effectively with the text.
Selecting and working with a range of texts is important to give students the opportunity to develop skills in locating information, extracting the key ideas and applying this knowledge in a variety of ways and contexts. The skill of locating information, knowing which information is relevant and how the information links within the text needs to be practised to enable students to generalise the skills and apply them when working with unfamiliar texts.
Activity 1: mapping it out
Ensure students preview the text, paying attention to the title, layout and any embedded visuals. This is a recommended step that should be undertaken with every new text as it assists students’ comprehension.
Using mapping is a very effective way of visually organising key pieces of information. This activity can be completed on an individual, pair or group basis. Students working in pairs or groups have the opportunity to discuss aspects of the text, the importance of the information located and how this links in to the overall meaning of the text.
Below are some examples of mapping templates:
Activity 2: connecting 3-2-1
The 3–2–1 strategy assists students when working with texts to focus on locating and connecting ideas within a structured method.
This strategy can be used when reading and viewing written and visual texts including films. This strategy also provides teachers with important information on students’ comprehension and knowledge of the subject matter.
It is important that students have an opportunity to share their responses and discuss the information they have included and other aspects of the text they would like to explore.
The following suggested 3–2–1 strategy can be further altered or modified to suit the learning needs of the students, the text that the students will be reading or viewing and/or the subject matter that is being addressed:
After previewing and reading the selected text students need to address the following in their book or on a sheet of paper:
- write three pieces of information that have been found to assist understanding of the text
- write two questions that will assist or clarify information found within the text to help understanding
- write one key aspect of the text that was interesting or previously unknown.
Students can be paired or grouped to share their findings and seek clarification or this can be undertaken as a whole class feedback activity. If the students were paired or grouped the students then feedback to the class and highlight any aspects of the text they are still unsure or found interesting.
This gives opportunities to assess students’ understanding of the text and their ability to connect information and ideas across the text.
A content specific 3–2–1 can be used when working with texts that have key subject specific concepts and ideas that students need to consider and understand. It can be used to ask specific questions related to the text using the 3–2–1 format or can be used to compare and contrast the text with the students’ prior knowledge.
Activity 3: predict, locate, add, note strategy
Predict, locate, add, note (PLAN) is a study reading system that guides students to follow a sequence of reading behaviours that will enhance their understanding of the text and link information contained within the text. The sequence assists students to become active readers who can locate, connect and use information effectively whilst ensuring meaning is maintained throughout the process.
PLAN can be used when reading and viewing a variety of texts across all subject areas.
The following information is a brief outline of the PLAN strategy:
- Predict – preview title, subtitles, boldface or italicised words, graphics and summary. Predict main ideas and text structure. Create a map to represent these ideas
- Locate – use prior knowledge and tick mapped ideas that are known and a question mark beside those that are new
- Add – read the text and add new information to map
- Note – note new learning by reviewing the mapped information. Review the map as needed to enhance the represented ideas in text or the learning task. Recreate the map from memory to summarise. This can be used for discussions, recall information that can be linked to other learning or for exam preparation.
Additional ideas and resources include:
Australian curriculum – ACELY1723: Interpreting, analysing, evaluating: Use comprehension strategies to interpret, analyse and synthesise ideas and information, critiquing ideas and issues from a variety of textual sources.
NSW syllabus – EN4-2A: Use a range of effective strategies for organising information, ideas and arguments, eg clustering, listing, compare and contrast, semantic chains, graphic and diagram outlines, and mind maps
NSW literacy continuum – Comprehension, Cluster 13, Marker 1: Applies comprehension strategies and skills including predicting, visualising, summarising, monitoring, questioning and making connections to make meaning in subject contexts.