Lesson: Combing for Comprehension

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Lesson Objective

students use strategies of scanning, paraphrasing, and inferring to characterize target characters

Lesson Plan

 Lesson Name: Combing for Comprehension                        Course: High School Language Arts by Anke al-Bataineh


Objective:   Students use strategies of scanning, paraphrasing, and inferring to characterize target characters


Essential Questions:            (write on board)

What do we know so far about my character?

How does my character relate to other characters?

Is there evidence to show that my character might be innocent or guilty in Sam Westing’s murder?


Materials:            Scan skill overhead

Paraphrase skill overhead

Inferring skill overhead

Character Tracker


Anticipatory Set:         (5 min)

Once you have given students a chance to start researching their character, gauge which of these skills they are struggling with. Use each of these mini-lessons to intervene where needed, and then provide time for them to apply it to their research and fill out their Character Tracker.


Ask a stronger student to define the skill you are about to teach and, if they can, explain why we need this skill now and in the future.


Input:         (15 min)

Display the overhead, engage students in reading the passage together piece by piece and complete the answers on the overhead. Reduce scaffolding as students see more models. Call on students at random to respond to the questions. Call on the weakest students while you are still scaffolding, but after some models. Call on the middle-ability students toward the end to gauge comprehension.


Guided Practice:         (15 min)

Provide the handout, allow students to get started trying. After most students have done the first 2, ask who got an answer. Confirm whether this is correct, or give a better answer. Then allow students to work through 3 items, then say the responses with students who are on track.


Display the results on the overhead when most students are finished and discuss differences.


Independent Work:         (20 min)

Allow students to apply this skill to searching for info on their character in the book. The weakest students might benefit from the help of the strongest once strong students finish.


Conclusion/Assessment:         (10 min)

Use these questions for the applicable lessons. Leave time to discuss a reasonable response at the end as an additional model.

SCAN: How was Theo involved in this moment?

            “The other heirs were too stunned by the unexpected legacy to bother him with questions. Madame Hoo marked an X and her husband filled in her name and position. Theo wanted to sign the receipt for his brother, but Chris insisted on doing it himself. Slowly, taking great pains, he wrote Christos Theodorakis, birdwatcher.”   - pg. 25


INFER: What can you infer about Grace Windsor Wexler from this paragraph?

            “’Please be careful, Mrs. Baumbach; my Angela has very delicate skin.” Grace Windsor Wexler was supervising the fitting of her daughter’s wedding dress from the beige velvet couch. Above her hung the two-dozen framed flower prints she had selected and arranged with the greatest of taste and care. She could have been an interior decorator, and a good one, too, if it wasn’t for the pressing demands of so on and so forth.”  --pg. 11


PARAPHRASE: Write the “big point” in your own words.

            “A great patriot, Samuel Westing was famous for his fun-filled Fourth of July celebrations. Whether disguised as Ben Franklin or a lowly drummer boy, he always acted a role in the elaborately staged pageants,which he wrote and directed. Perhaps best remembered was his surprise portrayal of Betsy Ross.

            Games and feasting followed the pageant, and at sunset Mr. Westing put on his Uncle Sam constume and set off fireworks from his front lawn. The spectacular pyrotechnic display could be viewed thirty miles away.” –pg. 22




Vocab to Watch Out For:







“your own words”


Lesson Reflection:

What went well?

What would you change?

What needs explanation?

Most kids are familiar with paraphrasing, although they benefit from modeling. Mostly they struggle with identifying what’s important in a passage.

Depending on the group, the text level of the overheads should be simplified.

The text selected for the scan and paraphrase overheads is intended to be slightly above the comprehension level of the class so that they can see how these strategies make the text more accessible.


Lesson Resources

scan overhead  
paraphrase overhead  
inference overhead  


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