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Tip of the Week – Book Bits

Activating prior knowledge and hooking kids into content are two great ways to increase student reading comprehension. The Book Bits strategy helps us do both. In Book Bits, sentences or phrases from a specific text are shared with the students in advance of reading the text. The text can really be just about type – a textbook, non-fiction, novel, short story, web site, some have even used it with audio and video clips – though it seems to work best with fiction.

The Book Bits strategy is designed to:

  • arouse student curiosity about text to be read
  • stimulate thinking about the text
  • access prior knowledge and experience
  • assist students in making predictions
  • promote interest and motivation in reading the text, and
  • build schema for constructing meaning

How to use it

1. Select important phrases or sentences from the text that are significant and write (or type) each of them on a slip of paper. These are your “book bits.” The sentence should reveal just enough to support text understanding, but not so much that they limit thinking. There should be as many book bits as there are students in the group.

2. Give each student a book bit. Ask each student to think about his/her book bit and begin predicting how their book bit might relate to others.

3. After the students have read their book bit, they move about the room and read their book bit with at least 4-5 others. It usually works best to set a time limit. Students should not discuss the book bits – all they should do is read their book bit to their partner and listen as their partner reads theirs. (Playing music during this mingling period helps encourage conversation.)

4. Once students have had the opportunity to hear most of the book bits floating around, they return to their seat. Ask your kids to do a quick Think-Pair-Share, trying to predict what the text is about based on the different book bits they heard. You may want to give specific instructions to think about characters, plot, setting or cause and effect. Some teachers have combined strategies and provided their kids with copies of the History Frame graphic organizer to help them arrange their thinking.

5. After completing the quick Think-Pair-Share, have students discuss their ideas with the entire group. Post their thinking on your bulletin board and refer to it throughout your instructional unit.

Source: Yopp, R.H. and Yopp, H.K. (2001). Literature-Based Reading Activities, 3rd ed. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, p. 33.

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