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Group Activity to Check for Understanding of a Reading Passage

By Trent Lorcher

Interactive group activity in which students work together to answer questions on a particular passage read in class. Each student answers a question on the reading and the other students in the group provide support.

In most subject areas teachers will have students read short passages that relate to the material being covered. These can come from the text book or from another source. One of the ways to check for understanding is to have the students answer questions on the reading. This can get boring and redundant. The following activity spices this question and answer exercise up while getting the students to work in collaborative groups.

After your class has read the target passage tell the students that they will be working with the other students in their row. Write ten questions on the board that check for comprehension. Don’t let the students see the questions until you give the signal. Each student in the first seat of every row is to take out a piece of paper and write the numbers one through ten and their row name. Give them a minute of two to come up with a name. Tell the students that once the questions are revealed to the class the students in the front row are to answer the first question the best they can. After writing out their answer these students pass the paper back one seat. The second student in the row will now answer question number two. The paper gets passed down the row until all of the questions are answered.

Before this activity starts tell the students that the first row who hands in their paper with all of the questions answered correctly will win. Emphasize that the questions must be answered correctly. Other important rules are that no student is allowed out of their desk and that you must be able to read the writing. A student answering a particular question is allowed to ask the student behind him for help on the answer. If this student doesn’t know the answer he can ask the student behind him and so on. The different rows are discouraged from yelling out the answers because they won’t want the other rows to hear the answer.

The class will have fun with this exercise. Each student will be motivated to actively participate so as not to let down the group. As the teacher it is up to you to decide what the winning rows get. Since everyone tends to get a little excited during this activity you may want to follow it up with some quiet desk work, or wait until the end of class to try it.