Remember What You Read: A Technique to Learn How to Digest the Important Points of Any Reading

Reading comprehension is not automatic.

Helping students with this vital skill can only help them multifold in the future with writing and more difficult readings.

Once the student considers the information within a text to be meaningless, have them create a story connecting those facts!

Once the student considers the information within a text to be meaningless, have them create a story connecting those facts! Click To Tweet
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In late elementary and early middle school, students learn the skill of comprehending what they have read.

They are starting to ask themselves, “What are the main points? Which are the supporting facts versus the actual arguments?”

Reading is the gateway to writing.

Reading is the gateway to writing. Click To Tweet

While they compose their essays, they will ask themselves the same questions.

Learning reading comprehension is an important step in any child’s education.

Not every student can read well.

Some students struggle to connect the details and myriad of facts they encounter.

What do you do?

Memorizing Cards

I am mesmerized by people with an excellent memory.

One can demonstrate this asset through the memorizing of decks of cards.

I cannot do this and never will, but it got me thinking.

Cards themselves are basically meaningless pieces of information. If you can find a way to remember them, then you can carry that over onto other situations.

I gave my students random cards from a deck.

I asked them to remember those cards for 30 seconds.

They did so easily when I did not talk, but the second round I talked during those entire 30 seconds and they were unsuccessful.

Afterwards, I showed them how to make the random cards into a story.

Then, students were able to remember the cards for any length of time within the lesson.

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Here is an example:

  • Jack = The jack
  • Loves = The heart suit
  • To ace = Ace
  • Irish = The clubs suit
  • 5 = 5
  • Higher = the spades suit (it looks like an up arrow)

Honing the skill

After this, I want to hone the skill of story telling, with that story lasting only a sentence or two.

I give my students random facts and ask them to connect them into a story.

We must concentrate on this, because a story that does not connect properly will be harder to remember.

If I say, “A man runs down the street and sees a boy,” now I must remember him running and seeing the boy, which is more work.

I can tweak the story somewhat…. “A man runs and almost trips over a boy sitting in the street.”

Now I have a bond between the man and the boy.

You cannot have the man tripping without the boy in the street.

Many times I will give the students random pieces of information in order for them to practice making meaningful connections.

Many times I will give the students random pieces of information in order for them to practice making meaningful connections. Click To Tweet
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Here is an example:

I make the story and also reinforce items: an old man with an old and a $12 ring for a 12 year-old granddaughter.

Applying the skill

Lastly, we need to apply this to an actual reading assignment.

I will ask the students to read the passage to themselves and then ask me about any words they do not know.

Then we will go over it together to make sure they understand the words and passage 100%.

Now we employ the story-telling technique in order to keep track of important items.

  • the main argument
  • something in parallel or conflicting
  • one example.
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Here is an example:

A mother goes shopping with her teenage, ninja son. He says, “Mom, all my friends are wearing black! I want this shirt.” She responds, “We are just regular farmers. You should dress normally. I like this shirt more.”

Though inauthentic it captures the main points in a funny and unexpected way. (text original source here)

Stories are more potent and useful when they are weird, funny, and unexpected.

The goal of the story is to digest and install the information without making your mind work even harder to remember even more.

As you move through a reading, you can employ this technique as you go.

Instead of trying to remember what happened two paragraphs up, just review the story going on in your mind.

They are learning a skill with this, not merely a method.

They are connecting facts over and over.

With time, the inventive and strange stories slip away and what remains is the ability to keep track of and connect information within a reading.


Everyone will have different stories and they may see them as a movie in their mind or just more text.

This is adaptable to all kinds of learners because it is completely individualized.

Making the short story serves as a vehicle to remember and digest what the student has read.

Try it today!

Making the short story serves as a vehicle to remember and digest what the student has read. Click To Tweet

You teach with what? 6 Apps Vital for Teaching Online.

“Paperless” is the hot word right now.

Some want to save the planet and others want to see the bottom of their desks once in a while.

Striving for a paperless work experience came to me through a more practical route.

Thousands of miles between myself and my students necessitated finding some virtual alternatives.

Already there are amazing virtual schools with great resources to go along with them.

But what do independent online teachers do?

I have tried and tested a hoard of applications and services, and here are the ones I use daily!

This is not sponsored.

All opinions are my own.

My first draft excluded this paragraph all together because it is about something we all take for granted…technology itself.

I have a MacBook Air.

I run High Sierra macOS.

Furthermore, I use an iPad Pro 10.5” with an Apple Pencil.

I operate my computer and tablet in tandem. Like a good dance team, I cannot tell when one starts and the other ends!

Clock (Free)

Though a basic app, it is indispensable.

I keep track of different timezones.

As I travel over state lines and outside the country, it is vital to have a place I can trust for the correct time.

That way I am never late for a lesson.

At the beginning of each writing lesson, my students always write for 15 minutes, so I whip out my timer.

We all tell ourselves we can watch the clock and timers are superfluous, but the reality is that we get distracted.

I set the timer so that I can focus on teaching and not watching clocks.

Occasionally, I play games with my students. At that time, I use the stopwatch.

Skype/Google Hangouts (Free)

These services allow me to carry out the lesson as a video chat.

There are many options within this genre of app.

I prefer and primarily use Skype.

I keep my students within a contact list to find them easily.

During the call, the text chat column stays open on the right, while I converse within the video column on the left.

I primarily use “share screen” to display my virtual board.

The older version of Skype (Version 7.58) supplies all my needs; the newest update took away some key features.

Google Calendar (Free)

Not for personal use, I use this only to diligently list my lessons.

I keep each student within their own calendar.

I share them individually with my students and also with their guardians (if applicable).

What I write there is binding, and it keeps everyone accountable and on track.

BaiBoard (Free)

In short, this is my virtual whiteboard.

I utilize this as an old-fashioned board with some modern twists.

Pictures and diagrams can be dragged onto the screen directly.

I can type and write freehand.

Lines, circles, and squares are available to me.

There are good color options to choose from: black, dark blue, light blue, green, purple, red, and yellow.

BaiBoard is a white canvas for me to share and impart whatever I need.

GoodNotes ($8)

I utilize this in the same fashion as BaiBoard, only on my iPad instead of computer.

I freehand everything within this app and can draw more intricately.

Notability ($10)

My own personal folder and notebook, where I keep all my textbooks, handouts, assignments and notes.

Quick Tip – Use templates!

I learned to write in cursive in third grade.

Instead of using a ruler, my teacher had a mechanical device that held three pieces of chalk evenly spaced and perfectly straight.

She glided it across the board with the ease akin to water sliding off an umbrella.

What a time and hassle saver!

Why reinvent the wheel?

I bring this into my online teaching.

I use templates for the board layouts I regularly employ.

I use templates for the board layouts I regularly employ. Click To Tweet

This is particularly useful in Latin, though English sentence diagrams can be made into a template as well.

Don’t forget to keep these in a very easily accessible folder for quick access.

Don’t work harder, work smarter.

Technology opens the world and shrinks limitations.

Technology opens the world and shrinks limitations. Click To Tweet

I hope these apps will transform your virtual teaching experience!