Using Chunking to Help Students Comprehend a Text

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Have you ever heard of “chunking”?

Many students have a “chunking” accommodation on their IEP in order to assist with reading comprehension. This is a great strategy, but just what is chunking? How can we use it to aid reading comprehension? 

What is Chunking? 

Simply put, chunking is breaking down a text into smaller pieces, or “chunks”. Think about it. What do you find easier to read …. something like a social media post or a blog post? A long block of text that isn’t broken down into paragraphs or an article that includes paragraphs, headings, bullet points, and other ways to break up the information? 

You probably picked the second option, and this also applies to texts that students read in the classroom! Looking at and focusing on a large block of text can be overwhelming to a student, especially one who struggles with reading. By breaking the text down into smaller portions and numbering those portions, the student can focus on one portion or “chunk” at a time. Chunking can be done ahead of time for students, and each chunk is numbered. 

How Can Teachers or SLPs Chunk a Text in Advance? 

The first step is to read the text ahead of time. This will give you an idea of where topics, ideas, and events found within the text begin and end. 

Then, you can decide how to physically break the text down. This can be accomplished by 

  • Re-typing the text and separating the chunks with plenty of white space
  • Cutting apart the paper that the passage is found on, and give the student one piece of paper at a time
  • Highlight each chunk in a different color. 

   

Your student’s IEP may specify how the text is to be chunked, or you can try a few different ways until you find what works best for your student. The student’s IEP may also specify how long each chunk of text should be, so be sure to check the IEP before beginning! 

How Can Teachers or SLPs Use Chunking With a Student?

After reviewing the text, chunking it, and numbering the chunks, you’re ready to work with your student! Present the student with one chunk at a time. Then, the student can record information about each chunk. Recording information can be accomplished in several different ways- 

  • Writing a sentence about the chunk
  • Recording information in a graphic organizer that aligns with the type of text being read
  • Drawing a picture showing the information
  • Giving the teacher information verbally and the teacher can record it (if the student has a scribing accommodation on their IEP)

Your student can record and review information from each chunk in a way that aligns with their IEP accommodations and modifications.   

How Does This Technique Help With Comprehension? 

This technique allows students to focus on one key portion of the text at a time, and then put that information together to draw conclusions about the text. This technique reduces overwhelm and confusion in students who have difficulty reading and allows them to comprehend the text at their own pace. Chunking is a great way to really break down a text so that students understand it more fully! 

 

I hope you found this helpful and that it is something that you can use with your students soon! If you like the ideas and the resource shared above, then you will love SLP Elevate! SLP Elevate is the first membership for SLP's that focuses specifically on older students. It is full of monthly, low-prep speech activities that are perfect for your older speech students! Check them out right here.