Use Story Maps for Better Reading Comprehension
Today, it's relatively easy for young readers to find and read an article or a book by quickly searching for reading materials online or on a library or classroom shelf.
But even engaged readers sometimes face content overload while they're reading.
For example, young or beginning readers may have trouble remembering the important elements of a story or the identity or names of minor characters who show up occasionally in a storyline.
Teachers often understand this dilemma and use multiple resources to help their students understand what they are reading.
A story map is an example of one resource that helps young learners with reading comprehension.
How Story Maps Benefit Students
Teachers knows that no two students are exactly alike in their learning styles, subject preferences, and skill levels. Story maps can help readers of all abilities and interests.
Because story maps are graphic organizers, they allow students to tap into visual learning and organize multiple literary elements.
Here's how they work:
- The teacher introduces simple story concepts (e.g., characters, setting, plot and/or problems to be solved).
- The teacher gives each student a blank story map.
- Students look for story concepts/elements and write them in the blank spaces on the map.
- Students discuss their responses with the teacher.
So, exactly how do story maps benefit students?
- Organization - Students can organize information into smaller categories.
- Summaries - Listing important elements helps students summarize the story.
- Main Theme - Main themes are easier to spot in a passage or an entire story.
- Writing - Students build writing skills and mental organization skills.
- Broad Use - Story maps work well for both fictional stories and non-fiction articles.
- Learning Styles - Story maps reinforce kinesthetic, visual, and even auditory learning styles (if reading aloud).
- Academic Language - As a student creates their story map, they organize their thoughts and ideas. This prepares students to orally share what they've learned and why they've filled out the story map as they have. This practice builds academic language skills that are imperative for deeper learning.
Which Story Map Should I Use?
Depending on your students' needs and reading levels, you may want to start with the basics via Imagine Learning's free printable story map.
If you teach older students, feel free to add other elements, such as major and minor characters, historical period, the moral of the story, and other key points.
Older students may also enjoy creating their own story map. Offer several ideas for templates for students to use, and then set them free to create!