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Sequencing Lesson

Sequencing refers to the identification of the components of a story, such as the beginning, middle, and end. Learn here how to apply the concept of sequencing to reading and literature when teaching.
Teaching Strategies:
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Taking Sequencing to the Next Level

Students will benefit from a variety of experiences with sequencing. Practice sequencing in different ways and with a variety of texts. Make games of sequencing practice by photocopying a short story, mixing the pages up, and asking students to reassemble them in the correct order (be sure to take the page numbers off the pages for this activity!). This type of activity can also be done with pictures by giving students a set of illustrations that tell a story or show a familiar step-by-step procedure, such as making a sandwich or getting dressed. Students then assemble the pictures so that the steps are in a logical order.

Older students who are being asked to retell a story can participate in self-evaluation by tape recording themselves as they do so. This technique allows students not only to practice the retelling but to listen to themselves and evaluate their own performances. Questions students can think about during this self-assessment include: Did I include the important aspects of the story? Are there any elements I should have included? Will my retelling make sense to someone who isn't familiar with the story?

Students can also expand on their retelling skills by rewriting plays they have read or heard and then performing those plays for their classmates or another class. This provides students with opportunities to think about sequencing in the roles of both readers and writers.

When Can You Use It?

Reading

Students can sharpen their sequencing skills as they read independently, participate in small group reading activities, or listen to you read a story. Before reading a longer story with students, make charts labeled, "beginning," "middle," and "end." Pause after each section of the story to discuss what has happened and to record information on your charts.

Writing

Sequencing is an important skill in writing. One way for students to plan their writing is by creating an outline or a graphic organizer before beginning a piece. This provides opportunities for students to think about the sequence of events in a story they wish to tell or the most logical sequence in which to provide information in a nonfiction piece.

Math

Math provides many opportunities for students to think about a process for solving a given type of problem. This process can be thought of as a sequence of steps. Students can list the steps of a process, such as finding a common denominator for a pair of fractions, and work with partners to follow those steps while solving applicable problems.

Social Studies

As students study history, they are often asked to keep track of series of events. Sequencing is a critical skill for this type of learning. Students can practice this skill by creating timelines showing the order of events. Students who are not yet involved in the study of historical events can still practice their sequencing skills by creating personal timelines, illustrating the course of their own lives.

Science

Science experiments provide a great opportunity for honing sequencing skills. Not only can students practice following a sequence of steps to investigate a particular concept but many experiments provide a dramatic way for students to try to take a set of mixed-up instructions and put them in a logical sequence. Students may find that some experiments can only be done in a specific order while others can be done in a variety of sequences. For instance, one experiment to investigate the chemical reaction between acids and bases involves pouring a small amount of baking soda into a balloon. Vinegar is then added to the balloon. The gas produced by the reaction between the baking soda and the vinegar inflates the balloon. Students might extend this experiment by altering the sequence of the steps. Ask them if the results are same if they put the vinegar in the balloon first, for example.

Lesson Plans

Sequencing: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
This lesson is designed to introduce sequencing to primary students. In this lesson, students discuss events at the beginning, middle, and end of the story, and then sequence those events. This lesson is the first of a set of sequencing lessons designed for primary grades.

Sequencing: Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile
This lesson is designed to establish the skill of sequencing for primary students. In this lesson, students discuss the order of events in the story using a graphic organizer. This lesson is the second of a set of sequencing lessons designed for primary grades.

Sequencing: The Hare and the Tortoise
This lesson is designed to expand the skill of sequencing for primary students. In this lesson, students discuss the sequence of events in the story and retell the story with partners. This is the final lesson of a set of sequencing lessons designed for primary grades.