Literal comprehension

Finding key information and summarising.

Activity 1: fact-question-response chart for factual texts

This strategy supports students to ask questions, determine importance in the text and respond, voicing their own opinions and thoughts. The children record factual information, ask questions and respond to record their thinking about the content. When students have the opportunity to share and explain their own thinking about text, they learn and remember important information.

Example from 'The Comeback of Humpbacks', National Geographic for Kids, Sept 2000

Fact Question Response
Leaping out of the water is called breaching Is all leaping or jumping called breaching? students to complete
30 times more than in 1965 students to complete Wow! That was a good comeback
Humpbacks were almost gone until a law was created to protect them students to complete I don't like the hunters using only one part of the whale . That reminds me of hunters killing elephants just for the ivory in their tusks.

Activity 2: summarising using post-it notes

Students identify words they believe are key to understanding the passage.

These words are written on post-it notes and placed on the page.

After reading the students close the book and arrange the key words in an order that supports a cohesive summary.

Activity 3: summarising complex texts

Model and guide students through the following steps for summarising.

  1. If you are reading longer texts, for example, a chapter, skim read the information. Note subheadings, the first and last paragraphs and topic sentences.
  2. Read the text carefully using a dictionary.
  3. Reread a difficult text several times.
  4. Write notes in point form using key words and ideas.
  5. Put your text away and write your summary from your notes.
  6. Refer back to the original to make sure that your summary truly reflects the writer's ideas and strength of opinion (degree of certainty on this topic).


Australian curriculum

ACELY1733: Interpreting, analysing, evaluating: Apply increasing knowledge of vocabulary, text structures and language features to understand the content of texts.

NSW syllabus

EN4-1A: Apply increasing knowledge of vocabulary, text structures and language features to understand the content of texts

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.

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