Schema Theory

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SWBAT understand and demonstrate how they make connections (including the role of long term and short term memory) to understand new information when reading through textual evidence.

Big Idea

Even Dorie knows…memory is the link to making connections.

Warm Up

5 minutes

Warm up today includes viewing the video below in order to get students thinking about the role of memory in our lives.


All of my student are always familiar and love Dorie (Hey, finding Dorie will be out next year), so after I show the clip they are excited to talk about how she can't remember anything due to "short term memory loss".  However, I steer the conversation toward our memory and how it works.


25 minutes

After our warm up discussion, I begin the Powerpoint.  The powerpoint leads the class step by step through an explanation of schema theory as explained in Nanci Atwell's book In the Middle and is an eye opening lesson for students.  The reasons for using the text coding (Thank you Harvey Daniels) strategy coupled with the explanation of Schema Theory in the powerpoint help my students see the link between what we are doing and the why of it. I find that my students grow when they understand this concept.

*The powerpoint must be downloaded to be viewed correctly and fully.

Independent Work

15 minutes

To practice making connections and understanding how those connections help us comprehend text, students will listen to a reading of the story, Thank You, Mr. Falker. I have the book, but will provide students a paper copy so they can write on it.

Both during and after the reading they will note the connections they make to the story by drawing a paperclip (as shown on the text codes slide) in the area, underlining the explicit text and adding notes in the margin to explain how their connection helps them understand the text.

I will read the beginning and demonstrate my own personal connections on the SMART board with a specific bit of text to get them started. As students listen and work, I will circulate around the room commenting on connections and assisting those who do not seem to be recording any connections.

Wrap Up

5 minutes

To wrap up the lesson, I bring students back together and play the attached clip of Dorie when she makes the connection and remembers.  Students immediately get it.  They realize that the word "Sydney" activated her knowledge and that she had repeated "P. Sherman Wallabe Way Sydney" so many times it had actually gone to her long term memory.