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Story Schema Activation Strategy: A Reading Comprehension Technique Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #:AELP-RDG002
Submitted by: Sue Buonanno
Email: SueBee627@aol.com
School/University/Affiliation: St. Joseph College
Endorsed by: Regina Chatel, PhD., St. Joseph College, West Hartford, CT. Date: November 2, 1998

Grade Level(s): 2


  • Language Arts/Reading

Overview: This is a lesson designed to utilize a reading comprehension strategy during language arts. Description: This lesson plan engages students in developing schemes for experiencing unfamiliar situations. This experience then serves as a means of facilitating their reading comprehension.

Goals: Develop schematic strategies to facilitate reading comprehension.


  • The student will demonstrate the story schema activation strategy by identifying a personal experience that is similar to the main events in the story My First American Friend.
  • The student will demonstrate the story schema activation strategy by predicting answers to questions about the main events in the story My First American Friend.


  • Poster displaying pictures of three events of the story – photo copied from the book
  • Paper written in Chinese – obtained from SINANET.com – The Homepage for Global Chinese
  • Copies of the story, My First American Friend by Sarunna Jin from the Houghton Mifflin anthology, Silly Things Happen
  • Questions about the main events


  • Display a poster showing pictures of the following important events of the story, My First American Friend.
    • Background picture – Sarunna is looking out of an airplane at the Statue of Liberty.
    • Event #1. Sarunna had no friends because she couldn’t speak English.
    • Event #2. Ali makes friends with her even though Sarunna speaks only a little English.
    • Event #3. Sarunna’s friend moves away at the end of the school year.
  • Teacher explains that today they will be reading the story My First American Friend, by Sarunna Jin. Students are asked to look at the background picture on the poster. The teacher asks the following question:

    a) What do you think is happening in the picture?
    b) Students answer: Sarunna is moving to the United States.

  • Having established this background information, the teacher has students pretend they have moved to China and this is their first day at school. The teacher passes out paper to students written in Chinese and tells students to read it to learn the main events of the story.
  • Next the teacher asks the students these questions to have them relate their own experiences to the situation.
  • Have you ever been in this kind of situation?
  • How would you feel if this really happened to you?
  • How do you feel when you are in a new or unfamiliar situation?
  • Now that the students can identify how Sarunna must have felt by putting themselves in her situation, the teacher explains that the students will learn three important events before they read the story.
  • Procedure:

  • Referring to the poster, the teacher explains each of the three events to the students.
  • As the teacher explains each event, the students are asked one of the following questions which will have them relate their own personal experience to it.
    • Event#1. Have you ever had to speak with someone who spoke a different language from yours? What types of challenges did you face?
    • Event#2. Did you ever make friends with someone without talking?
    • Event#3. How did you feel when you had a special friend move away?
  • Next the teacher asks students to answer questions about each event that will predict what will happen in the story.
    • Event #1. Would Sarunna face these types of challenges? What are they?
    • Event #2. How could she make friends without talking?
    • Event #3. Why do you think that Sarunna will always remember her friend?
  • Students brainstorm among their peers for the answers to these questions and write them on paper.
  • Students take turns reading the story aloud. They then discuss the answers they predicted concerning the three important events and examine whether their answers followed the story.
  • Closure:

  • Using the poster, review the main events to verify comprehension.
  • Have a question and answer session with students having them review the main events in the story.
  • Evaluation:

  • Students will be evaluated by their participation in sharing their personal experiences.
  • Students will also be assessed during discussions to evaluate their understanding of sequencing and their comprehension of the main events.