3. Making meaning: sequencing

As a teacher, you need to remember that human beings (including your pupils) always try to find meaning in what they do. Every activity you give your pupils should give them an opportunity to search for meaning.

Case Study 3 and the Key Activity explore ways to search for the meaning in passages and texts. Pupils practise some of the crucial skills involved in reading: prediction and anticipation (guessing what might happen next). They also have to interact with one another in order to solve a problem. Each person has a part to play in order to solve the ‘puzzle’ and find the meaning.

Case Study 3: Stories: taken apart and put together

Mrs Ndaba’s Grade 6 class had brought stories from home and illustrated them. On each page, they had written a sentence and drawn a picture to match it. The pages had been inserted into plastic sleeves in files to make books.

Her colleague, Ms Mdlalose, who taught the Grade 3s, had seen the illustrated stories, and asked to borrow them for a reading activity with her pupils. Mrs Ndaba came and watched.

Ms Mdlalose divided her class into five groups. She gave each group a story but she took the pages out of the file, and put the file in the middle of the table. She then gave each pupil in the group one page of the story, making sure that she mixed the order of the pages. Each pupil had to read the sentence on their page to the group. Through discussion, the group decided which sentence came first in the story, put all the sentences in order and put the pages back into the file in the correct order.

Mrs Mdlalose asked one pupil from each group to read their group’s story to the class and they commented about the order. As a class, they selected their favourite story and a five-minute drama was organised to perform this story.

Key Activity: The parts of a whole

You can use this kind of activity at any level.

  • Select a short, well-written story or passage that your pupils can understand and relate to. You could use a story, a picture story or paragraph(s) like those in Resource 5: Making meaning, or a more complex passage in any language or subject area. Each group could have the same or a different story to work on.
  • Cut it up into six or seven pieces. These could be paragraphs, sentences or groups of sentences depending on the age and competence of your pupils. Mount each piece on card.
  • Give each group a set of the cut-up parts of the passage.
  • Each member has a piece of the passage, and reads their piece to the others. As a group, they put the passage together in its correct order.
  • With more experienced or able pupils, ask them to explain how they worked out the correct order.
  • Read the passages or stories to the class.

2. Describe and draw

Resource 1: More information gap activities