Reading Comprehension: A/B Stories

Time: 90 Minutes

Level: High-beginner through advanced

Materials: Two short readings from a reading textbook, with pre-reading and comprehension questions.

Skills: Reading, listening, speaking

Objective: Students will be able to summarize both the main idea and specific details from a reading passage.

Preparation: 10 minutes–choose two short readings from a reading textbook. The topics don’t need to be related, but if you can find two that are, it might be a good idea to use them. (I recommend a text like Easy True Stories; because this lesson focuses on oral communication skills, you really don’t want anything too complex or detailed.) Photocopy pre-reading discussion questions and vocabulary for both of the stories onto one page.

Directions: Write the title of both stories on the board. Tell students that they will be reading one of these stories today. Ask the class to predict what the stories might be about based on the titles. Note any relevant vocabulary (i.e., vocabulary that you know is in the reading) that comes up during the class discussion. Put the students in pairs and distribute one copy of the pre-reading activities to each pair. Circulate and monitor as students discuss.

Next, assign each student one of the two stories to read. (If you’re using photocopies here, it’s a good idea to have copied the stories onto two different colors of paper.) Give each student an index card (alternative, have them use half of a clean sheet of paper). Let students know that they will be responsible for retelling their story to their partners. They should take brief notes (no complete sentences) on the main idea and supporting details as they read. You may want to give them a time limit here too and/or a restriction on dictionary usage. Once students have finished reading*, tell them to turn the stories over. Their task is to retell their story to their partner. They may not look at the story as they are speaking. They can use their notes, but if they have to turn the paper over and refer back to the story, they must remain silent. In other words, they may only speak when they’re not looking at the story.

Next, assign comprehension questions (again, if you’ve photcopied, use two different colors). Here’s the catch: A receives the questions for the story that B read and retold; B receives the questions for the story that A read and retold. They may ask their partners for help with the questions, but they may not show their partners their papers.

If you think it’s necessary, have As compare their answers with another A. If not, do a quick check of the answers with the class and move on to handing out any after-reading discussion questions.

*Variation: For a more difficult reading, have As get together with other As right after they’ve finished the reading their story. Allow them to practice retelling the story, and have them help each other organize their note cards. Then, re-pair As and Bs and proceed as above.

For Homework: Have students write brief summaries of both stories. When they return to class, have them compare their summaries with their partner from the previous lesson.

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