I know, I know! It’s been a while. But I hope you had a chance to relax a bit over the holiday break and are settling back into the swing of things.

This week’s tip, Quick Draw for Points, is a quick, easy and powerful way to increase reading comprehension among your kids. It’s based on the idea that comprehension goes up when the brain can connect prior knowledge with new content through the use of imagery.

I’ve used the strategy successfully with textbooks, primary documents, newspapers and web sites and am convinced that it would work with just about any kind of textual content. It would also work with the delivery of content such as audio or video clips.

The process is pretty simple.

1. Provide each student with a simple graphic organizer with four numbered boxes, a line for their points and a spot for a summary paragraph.


2. Instruct your students that they will listen to four sections of text that you will read to them. (This could also be an audio or video clip that they will listen to. You could also have small groups or partners read to one another.)

3. After reading each section, give your students a short amount of time to create a simple graphic that summarizes the content of that particular section. The graphic could include multiple images. For instance, I would read 2-3 paragraphs of text and provide 30-90 seconds of time for students to “draw” the text in visual format.

4. Continue reading each section of text and providing time for students to create their graphics until all of the sections have been read.

5. Encourage your kids to share their graphics with a partner and explain their images.

6. Once the partner sharing is finished, provide feedback by “scoring” their graphics. Before reading the four sections, create a summary list for each section (that you keep to yourself) which includes the most important information.

After reading, drawing and sharing, read aloud your summary list and tell kids to give themselves a point for each of the items on your summary list that is contained in their images. The feedback provided by this summary is vital. (This is also a great time to do a “teacher think aloud” giving kids a model to follow when doing their own reading.)

I have also seen teachers ask kids to work together while “scoring” their images, explaining to one another why they should receive points.

7. Kids can compare points with each other and then write their own summary paragraph at the bottom of their sheets. Finally, encourage students to use the graphic organizer as a useful review sheet.

Have fun!