Three Easy Ways to Use Subheads


Editor's Note: Teacher Kim Wagner returns to the Scope Ideabook with another WOWZA idea. We are in love with how she uses subheads for summarizing, exploring text structures, and identifying central ideas. So doable! So delightful! Do you have inventive ways that you use subheads in your classroom? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Subheads are often overlooked, but I like to use them to help my struggling readers as well as my on-level readers practice several key skills. I've found that the subheads in Scope's nonfiction articles work especially well for these activities, particularly in longer articles like this one.


Here's how I use subheads to practice summarizing, text structures, and central ideas.

What you'll need:
any Scope nonfiction text with multiple subheads, like this one
a list of the article's subheads in random order

Key skills:
summarizing, text structures, central ideas

15-50 minutes, depending on the text length and skill


1. Summarizing

Before reading the article, have students read all the subheads and write a summary predicting what the article will be about. Read the article as a class, then have students return to their predictions and see how accurate they were. Have students discuss how and why their predictions were or were not accurate.


2. Text Structures

Before reading the article as a class, create a list of all its subheads in random order. Distribute the list to the class and have students organize the subheads according to different text structures: chronological, problem/solution, cause/effect, etc. After you read the article, have students compare their lists to the article's actual structure. Have a discussion about why the author may have structured the article the way that he or she did.


3. Central Ideas

After reading the article, ask students to rewrite all the subheads in their own words. This is a creative way for students to consider the central idea of each section while giving you, the teacher, immediate feedback about their understanding. 


Kim Wagner is a Language Arts teacher at Hendersonville Middle School in Hendersonville, North Carolina. She is also a Scope teacher advisor.

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