Say what?!

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What could cavemen and reading comprehension possibly have in common?
I'm so excited to tell you!

We have an amazing gal, Carmen, working at our school and she just gave a mini-training to our whole staff to get us all prepped for reading tutoring in the upper grades. (Crazy to think our brains are already focusing on the state test!) So much of the time kids will underline titles, circle bold words, number paragraphs and they have no idea why. They do it because they were told to do it. 

If ONLY I had known this little "trick" in high school and college I would have had a much easier time remembering boring facts buried in our textbook chapters for history and physics. 

Ask your students how they can ask for ice cream in the most polite way. "Can I have ice cream please?" "May I pretty please with a cherry on top have ice cream?" Count how many words each question had. Then ask how a caveman would ask. The idea is to use fewer words. Tell your students that you can use caveman talk to remember what you have read.

Before I get to how the caveman trick I have to start with the taking a look at the chapter or passage your are reading. Then look at the title. Do you think this is fiction or nonfiction? Why? Students should put an F or NF next to the title. *They can always come back and change it if they realize they weren't correct. There is usually a question related to the title somewhere at the end of the passage.

Now begin with the first paragraph. As students read each sentence they should stop and think. Can they retell the sentence without looking at the paper? When working in small groups I ask them to each retell out loud. Some students may need to reread the sentence or look for context clues to help them understand. At the end of the first paragraph stop the students. Using caveman talk how can we summarize this paragraph? Ex: First experiment light.  Students can decide how best to remember what was in that paragraph with their caveman talk and write it next to the paragraph. Explain that this is to help them remember what they read without having to go back and reread the entire passage and again searching for answers.

Follow the same steps with the second paragraph. After writing your caveman talk review paragraph one and two. Students can reread their caveman talk, but you'll begin to see that because students have a simple way of remembering what was in each paragraph they can retell without looking.

After the passage or text selection has been read and you begin to look at questions students will easily be able to find the answers by checking their caveman talk. They won't mind finding the text evidence to support their answers. With a little bit of practice students will begin to use these strategies without prompting and their comprehension levels will improve.

Stinkin' genius I tell ya!

In those lower grades you can modify this a bit because our text isn't as long. They love caveman talk too!


  1. cute idea... I think this is something I can use with my struggling kiddos for sure!!! thanks for sharing :)

  2. Came over on Farley's recommendation!

  3. Farley sent me over. Glad she did - my grade 4s would love this idea!

  4. Farley sent me and what a great idea!!

  5. Cute name! We do this but we call them blurbs. Cave man talk is a much cooler name. Thanks!

  6. Hilarious what we can do to help kids get it to "stick". Thanks for sharing Jennifer!

  7. Great idea! Gonna be trying it this week once our stressful state writing test is out of the way:/ Thanks for sharing:)

    4th Grade Frolics