A Lesson I Love: The “DO WHAT” Chart

A Lesson I Love: The “DO WHAT” Chart

by MK Jarvis

The DO WHAT chart is one of my favorite lessons to teach.  It is more of a technique than a lesson, but it helps students understand what they are about to do in an upcoming text.  Each story in our ELA text Collections has a short paragraph beforehand that is called Setting a Purpose and the DO WHAT chart can break down exactly what the student is going to do or discover during and after the story.

The week before I plan to use a DO WHAT chart, I will review verbs and direct objects, but you don’t have to do that if your crew doesn’t need the review.  Seventh graders have chronic short-term memory loss, so it is helpful to touch on what an action word is.  I use the DO WHAT chart a few times a year, and the first chart we complete together.  The chart is pretty simple and can be completed in just a few steps.  

 

STEP ONE: Read the Setting the Purpose paragraph.  From Collections here is an example from the story “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century” by Jeanne E Arnold found in Collection 5 (221):

Perhaps no other technology is more widely shared as the television.  As you read, keep track of how the popularity of this consumer good has changed over time.  How will archaeologists of the future track its significance?  Write down any questions you have while reading.

STEP TWO: On the second step the students rewrite the purpose (task) on a graphic organizer.  You can find a nice organizer something like this one:

Or you can just use a piece of notebook paper or have the student create their own table in a favorite program or app.

STEP THREE: Identify all the actions or verbs in the sentences of the purpose (task).  This is when the students dissect the paragraph and pick out all the “DO” words and write them in the “DO” column of their organizer.

Perhaps no other technology is more widely shared as the television.  

As you read, keep track of how the popularity of this consumer good has changed over time.

How will archeologists of the future track its significance?  

Write down any questions you have while reading.

STEP FOUR: Identify all the direct objects or “WHAT” words and write them in the “WHAT” column of their organizer.

Perhaps no other technology is more widely shared as the television.  

As you read, keep track of how the popularity of this consumer good has changed over time.

How will archeologists of the future track its significance?  

Write down any questions you have while reading.

After all the “DO” and “WHAT” words are recorded, I have the students connect them with lines or arrows so they know exactly what they are doing to what.  

STEP FIVE: The organizer I use has a section in which the students rewrite the prompt in their own words.  I always use this section so that the students have a chance to rethink some of the words and use any synonyms they can come up with.  

Super easy-peasey.

I really love this technique for understanding purpose.  The students are always confused at first about what we’re doing, but by the end of the lesson, they know exactly what is expected of them and what they will discover in the text.  It’s an eye-opener and I find that the reading and activities go a little smoother when we’ve done a DO WHAT chart.

 

WVCTE is wondering: How do you help your students define and understand a text’s purpose?

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