Bethany Sawyer’s Table Qs

At CANE’s Annual Meeting last week, Bethany Sawyer shared a reading comprehension strategy “in chart form” that I’m calling Table Qs. This EZ format breaks up a text while giving students something specific to do while reading that focuses their attention. I think of this as giving students’ minds a job to do. When I brought this idea to our Director of Curriculum & Instruction, she (also an ELA teacher) found it similar to when they first do annotations. Instead of just “hey, annotate,” there’s always an “annotate for ____” prompt to guide students. It follows, then, that a “hey, read” prompt very well might result in students looking at the text, and maybe registering certain words, but something short of processing the Latin and really comprehending. Table Qs is one support for that. This kind of structure is also a great example of schoolifying CI. In short, students answer a question in the left column, underlining/highlighting its Latin in the right column. All you gotta do is drop text into a Doc, and make some Qs.

The key?

Don’t make obvious questions that allow students to avoid reading altogether! That would defeat the whole purpose. While it took me about 15 minutes to put a front/back Table Q page together, I’d consider it wasted time if all students were to do would be skimming the Latin to answer a question. While making these Qs is certainly a skill, consider rephrasing ones that call for a single word that’s basically already given in the question. Also consider avoiding “who?” Qs when there’s only one proper noun in the selected text. If that’s the case, at least add a follow up (e.g., “who ____ and then what do they do?”).

Check out the fourth Q in the screenshot below. That could’ve been “Marcus is what?” or “Is Marcus confused?” However, the Q allows for a number of responses that all indicate comprehension, such as “he’s not Egyptian” or “he doesn’t know hieroglyphics,” and encourages reading the whole segment (i.e., NOT just picking out only the Latin needed to answer a poorly formed Q). As a confirmation of understanding and to support their answer, students underline (or highlight if a digital Google Doc) the specific Latin. The following screenshot is from the second chapter of Mārcus et scytala Caesaris:

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