My district’s reading focus strategy for the month of February is determining importance, which has always been a tough one for my kiddos. Our reading specialists had some great ideas to offer, which I tweaked to fit my students’ needs.
I started my guided reading last week with a mini lesson on “What’s in your Backpack?” I asked my students to sort the items they packed in their backpacks that morning into two categories: “Very Important” and “Not So Important.” Items that went in the “Very Important” column included their binders, laptops, lunches—things that they couldn’t have made it through the day without. They were pretty good at determining which items were not absolutely crucial, such as markers, erasers, extra books, etc. for the “Not So Important” column.
I then explained that we were going to practice determining importance in our Raz Kids books in a similar manner. While they read, they used the graphic organizer to record information that they deemed important to helping them understand the author’s main purpose. I had to remind many of them to not just put down interesting facts because many of them were just details and were not crucial to understanding the topic. You can grab the graphic organizer along with the backpack handout for free by clicking either image.
This was a great segue into my math focus for the week—making sense of word problems. I don’t know about yours, but many of my darlings take the first two numbers they see and either add or subtract them without really comprehending what the question is asking. Many of my students are struggling readers so word problems are VERY difficult for them.
I made up a couple of very lengthy word problems with a lot of unnecessary information and had my kids sort the information based on its importance. I was thrilled to see that the strategies we practiced in reading transferred over and really helped them determine what was/wasn’t important to solving the problem. Here’s an example worksheet from one of my sweet kiddos with all of his work beautifully shown.:)
You can download this two-page handout for free by clicking either image below.
I’d love to know how YOU teach determining importance in reading or math or both. Please share!:)