In our perusal of last month’s Think Teachers magazine, we came across a creative reading exercise called “chapter jumble.” This activity not only shows students a new approach to books, but also helps them build their collaborative learning skills. Here’s how it works.
Chapter Jumble: a three-part activity for reading teachers
1. Select a chapter book that will capture your students’ attention—and make sure that it’s not too long or beyond their reading level.
2. Determine how you will divide your students into groups. Odds are that your students do not all read at the same level, so be sure to evenly distribute stronger readers among groups.
3. Determine how the chapters of the book will be divided (this will make more sense in a minute; keep reading).
1. Present the chapter book to your students. Make sure to emphasize its length.
2. Ask students if they think they could read the entire book in a day.
3. Listen to your students’ responses and agree that they’re probably right: It would be tough to read the entire book in a day.
4. In the middle of the discussion, surprise your students by ripping the chapters out of the book.
Or perhaps use an old book to demonstrate the point. Make sure your students see you do this!
5. Your students will be shocked to see you do this. Now ask them if they could read just a few chapters of the book in one day. Lead them to the consensus that this is quite possible.
6. Once students have reached this conclusion, make sure to explain that you took the book apart to illustrate a point: Books are nothing more than a few chapters put together; when students work on a book in small pieces, the task becomes much less overwhelming.
7. Read a random paragraph from a chapter you’ve pulled out of the book and discuss the main idea of it with the class. Be sure to point out characters, context clues, etc.
8. Ask the students to “fill in the gaps,” recreating what they presume was the story leading up to the paragraph you read to them.
1. Before class begins, divide students into previously determined groups.
2. Announce that students will work together to read the entire book in only one day!
3. Distribute chapters of the selected book to each group.
4. Explain that while each group reads, students must write down the main plot details in chronological order. They should also write down what they consider to be the three most important parts of the chapter.
5. Before your students get started, remind them that reading and recording is a group task; everyone must contribute.
Each group takes time to confer with each other to make sure a final summary of the chapter is complete.
2. Once all groups finish, begin with chapter one. Each group will present their chapter(s). Make sure that each group discusses the plot, characters, setting and theme.
3. After the final group presents, provide a brief summary of the book. Remind students that by working together, seemingly impossible tasks can be accomplished!