How to Implement Chunking Teaching Strategy in Your Classroom
A chunking activity involves breaking down a complicated text into more manageable pieces and having learners rewrite these “chunks” in their own words. You can utilize this method with challenging texts of any length. Chunking helps learners identify keywords and ideas, develops their ability to summarize, and makes it easier for them to organize and synthesize information.
- Preparation: Chunking can be used with challenging content of any length. A paragraph can be chunked into expressions and sentences, while a reading of several pages can be chunked into paragraphs or sections. It is often helpful to have learners record information regarding each “chunk” in a graphic organizer, which you must create in advance.
- Review of Reading Strategies: Before having learners work on paraphrasing the content, it is helpful to go over specific decoding strategies. You may want to post the following reminders on the board:
- Circle unfamiliar words.
- Use context clues to help define words.
- Look up the meaning of words that are unfamiliar.
- Write synonyms for unfamiliar new words in the content.
- Underline essential places and people and identify them.
- Read aloud.
- Read multiple times.
- Chunk the Text: “Chunking the text” means breaking the content down into smaller parts. Sometimes, instructors chunk the text in advance for learners, especially if this is the first time they have used this method. Other times, instructors ask learners to chunk the text. Learners can work on chunking texts with partners or on their own. Depending on the learners’ reading level, the lengths of chunks can fluctuate. A struggling reader will probably work with phrases rather than sentences. A more reliable reader can often work with longer pieces.
- Learners Summarize Meaning: Learners must rewrite “chunks” in their own words. By the end of this activity, learners must have a summarized version of the original text.
- Assess and Share: Summarized content can be used to assess learners’ comprehension and reading ability. You can also have learners compare their versions of the content. This step often leads to interesting conversations about interpretation—how people can often find various meanings in the same words.
- Identify and Define Key Words: To help learners move from reading the content to paraphrasing, ask them first to identify and define the keywords found in that chunk. You can add space to a graphic organizer for this part of the activity.
- Create a Visual: To improve comprehension of ideas, have learners visually represent the selected chunk as a picture or symbol. They can create a symbol or image, or they can find one in a magazine or online.
- Paragraph Shrinking: To help learners clarify main ideas, ask them to summarize the meaning of a paragraph in ten words or less.
- Identify Significance and Connections: After learners summarize a portion of the content, ask them to respond to these ideas. Questions you may use to prompt their thinking include: What do these ideas remind you of? What questions do they raise? Why is this idea important? To whom?
- Jigsaw Chunking: You can divide longer content into parts and have groups work on summarizing a paragraph or two each. Groups can reveal the meaning of their part with the class by utilizing the Jigsaw method or by having small-group presentations. This variation works well with content that has divided parts, such as the Bill of Rights because learners need to be able to summarize their section without having read prior sections.