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SQ3R: Survey, Question, Read, Review, Recite

SQ3R Worksheet

SQ3R is an effective note-taking system that helps English Language Learners self-monitor their comprehension before, during, and after reading a passage in a textbook. This instructional strategy helps students understand key historical content and vocabulary.

My version also incorporates a cloze paragraph--in which words are deleted (according to a given criteria) so that students can insert words as they read to complete and construct meaning from the text. This requires students to clearly summarize what they have read (ex. George Washington ______________ the Delaware.) Below I explain the strategy and include two handouts.

The first serves as a guide for students, the second shows a sample student’s responses when using SQ3R to understand our textbook’s account of the Underground Railroad.

The SQ3R Process

  1. Set-Up
  2. A. Assign students (either in pairs or alone) a subsection from their textbook. Subsections are best for SQ3Rs because they are only a couple of pages whereas an entire section could be many more pages. For example, the section “Abolitionists” might be 6 pages, but the “Underground Railroad” subsection only 2 pages.

    B. The SQ3R assignment’s topic and title should be the same as the subsection’s title. Students should include the page numbers of the subsection so they can reference it quickly later.

    TIP: Use the SQ3R worksheet so students get familiar with the process. Make a transparency of it so you can model the note-taking process for students. Also give them a blank worksheet as a guide for doing their SQ3Rs on binder paper.

  3. Before Reading
  4. A. Survey: Students look over the section’s images and headers and write two things they predict they will learn.

    TIP: A useful sentence starter is “I predict I will learn about…”

    B. Question: Next students create comprehension questions from the section’s sub-headers and bolded vocabulary words on the left hand side of the paper. This prepares the students to read in a focused way.

  5. Read
  6. Students read the text and respond to their left-hand side questions by writing answers down the paper’s right side. This allows students to check their understanding while reading.

    TIP: It can be helpful for English Learners to read aloud to each other in pairs doing a W.R.A.P. (whisper – read – alternating – paragraphs).

  7. After Reading

A. Review: Once they have completed the reading, students check their answers with another student. If students read and answered in pairs, then two pairs should create a group of four and review their answers. Students keep their textbooks open and check any discrepancies they find.

TIP: Good discussion sentence stems are “I believe the correct answer is _____ because here the text says…” and “I disagree because here I read that…”

B. Summarize: Students put all of their learning together into a summary paragraph. They pull details and key points from their answers to complete a cloze paragraph.

TIP: I recommend using themes to organize the curriculum as they help students draw connections between different standards and topics and between historical topics and current events. This year my 8th grade U.S. history themes were growth, conflict, oppression, and compromise. The cloze paragraphs require students to make connections to a course theme.

C. Recite: Use the SQ3R as a study tool. Students fold it in half and individually or in pairs, they ask the written questions and answer them without looking at the right hand side.

Practicality

I'm currently at work on a grant with several colleagues from my own institution and other colleges in the northeast that explores the introduction to future teachers of ELL literature and strategies. See the organizing home page of the grant - Brown University's "The Education Alliance." http://www.alliance.brown.edu/ae_ells.php

My recurring question and concern is that most literature I have encountered thus far is like the wonderful ideas above - good strategies, interesting ideas that can work in all kinds of classrooms, and a problem if you have students who have ZERO working knowledge of English. It seems that most exercises assume at least a 'social English' capability.

I would appreciate any thoughts, help, and direction on this front!

Nicholas Aieta
Assistant Professor, History
Secondary Education Program Coordinator
Westfield State University
Westfield, MA

a year later

As a young teacher dual certified in Secondary English and K-12 ESL instruction, I discovered, while teaching 9th grade in Washington DC, I had received no training in teaching reading to non-readers. We do assume that all students learn this by the end of 1st grade and that ELLs magically acquire it. I subsequently found a number of programs that work well from level 0. I am partial to Breaking the Code from SRA/McGraw-Hill. But there are 2-3 others that serve just as well.

Hope this helps.

ELL level 0

This is a huge problem as I work with at-risk ELL students and I have had a huge uptick with 0 level ELL. I'm working with two currently. They're so embarrassed that they won't even try most of the work in front of their peers.

Thanks for identifying this growing problem. I am looking for an effective system.

 
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