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"I teach students to take a large piece of text and chunk it--to break it up into smaller pieces and to summarize as they go. They gain confidence when they legitimately understand what the author is saying."

Chunking as they read enables students to get a small, immediate understanding of the author’s meaning. From this foundation, they are better able to extrapolate more of what the author is saying.

To teach “chunking” in my classroom, I first present any challenging vocabulary words in the text. Then I give a mini-lesson focused on the first two-to-three paragraphs.  As a class we then together discuss the meaning of what we’ve read. Next, I ask the students to cite some textual evidence that directly explains and supports the meanings we just discussed. We go through this process together, two or three times as a whole class. Then, I organize the students into smaller groups–twos, or threes, or independent learners–and ask them to continue to do the same thing. Each group takes a different page and works on the meaning they gather from that particular page. Finally, we come back together as a class and each group presents their results so that everyone ends up teaching each other.

This practice translates into better decision-making across all areas of the students’ lives; it’s not just for a piece of text in English class. I think this process helps them make sense of the world and where they fit into it.


Vivett Dukes

Vivett is currently the English Department Chair at Eagle Academy for Young Men in Queens, New York. She has over 6 years teaching experience in the classroom. Vivett has served as a lab facilitator for the Learning Partners Program run by the New... Full Bio

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“Chunking as they read enables students to get a small, immediate understanding of the author’s meaning. From this foundation, they are better able to extrapolate more of what the author is saying.

“To teach “chunking” in my classroom, I first present any challenging vocabulary words in the text. Then I give a mini-lesson focused on the first two-to-three paragraphs.  As a class we then together discuss the meaning of what we’ve read. Next, I ask the students to cite some textual evidence that directly explains and supports the meanings we just discussed. We go through this process together, two or three times as a whole class. Then, I organize the students into smaller groups–twos, or threes, or independent learners–and ask them to continue to do the same thing. Each group takes a different page and works on the meaning they gather from that particular page. Finally, we come back together as a class and each group presents their results so that everyone ends up teaching each other.

“This practice translates into better decision-making across all areas of the students’ lives; it’s not just for a piece of text in English class. I think this process helps them make sense of the world and where they fit into it.”

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Get ready for your Workshop. Explore these videos and think about how they apply to your own practice--even before our first online session begins.

In this series of videos, I describe and ask participants to experience the strategy of chunking and summarizing text. This means tackling a difficult text by breaking it down into digestible portions and carefully analyzing each one.

Part One: Introduction

In part one of the workshop, we go over the main ideas of what it means to chunk and summarize a text and the skills that are developed as a result.

Part Two: Try It!

In part two of the workshop, I ask participants to choose from a variety of writings and chunk and summarize the text individually or in groups.

Part Three: Reflections

In part three of the workshop, participants present the ways they see value in chunking and analyzing across different disciplines and for different grade levels.

Get ready for Session One of our Workshop.

In the first Workshop session, you have the chance to learn exactly what makes this teaching practice successful in the classroom.

You learn the preparation required to share this approach with your students; the ways you can introduce this practice to your students most successfully; and exactly how your students can benefit as a result. You also have the chance to ask questions and to share your own ideas.

Make the most of our first Workshop session, by taking time in advance to think about your responses to these driving questions:

  • What do you already know about ways to help students synthesize information, paraphrase ideas, and better organize their thinking? What about this approach would you like to learn more about?
  • How do you think your students might benefit if you were to integrate the approach to chunking text in your teaching?
  • After reviewing the videos of the professional learning session in preparation for our Workshop, what specific questions do you have about what you saw?
  • What ideas do you have for incorporating the strategies presented in these videos within your own classroom? What could you incorporate directly? What would you need to change or modify to serve your students?

 

Get ready for Session Two of our Workshop.

In the second Workshop session, you have the chance to share and refine your own take on the professional practice introduced in Session One.

You have the chance to ask questions that can refine your understanding and impact your practice; to share and test your ideas for how you can adapt this teaching practice for your own classroom; and to support other teachers participating in the workshop as they personalize this practice to serve their own students.

To make the most of our second Workshop session, please take time in advance to think about your responses to these driving questions:

  • How–in your own words–would you describe the teaching practice presented in Session One? How would you describe the impact that chunking their reading into smaller sections might have for your students?
  • What about the teaching practice presented in the first Workshop session seemed most useful to you? What single component or idea seems like it would most strongly resonate with your students? 
  • How do you think your students would respond if this practice was presented to them exactly as described in Session One? Which elements do you think you’d need to change to better serve your students? Which would you be sure to present without modifying?
  • What elements would you add? Do you have resources, materials, or lesson plans you already use that you could adapt or incorporate to better personalize this practice?
  • What help or support would you need to present this practice in your own classroom?
  • What changes, if any, would you need to make to your school schedule or to your classroom environment for this practice to succeed for your students?