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The Frame Routine

frameThe Frame Routine is a strategy designed to assist students as they organize topics, main ideas and details about reading assignments. This technique includes a basic hierarchic graphic organizer called a “Frame” that can be used to help students think and talk about the key topic and essential related information.

Frames allow students to identify the main ideas and supporting details while reading texts. As they list them on a Frame graphic, comprehension of the written material tends to increase. The Frame Routine is flexible and can be used with all content areas. The Frame Routine can be particularly beneficial to many students with learning disabilities because it depicts the organization of the concepts that students are expected to learn.

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Introduce the assigned passage of text to the students. Discuss the Frame Routine technique and model the procedure by co-constructing an initial Frame graphic. Simultaneously fill in information with students on blank copies of the form. This provides teachers with the opportunity to monitor the students’ level of understanding and to adjust instruction as needed. After students have become familiar with use of the Frame Routine, they can use the Frame graphics independently or in small groups as they identify main ideas and essential details from pre-selected texts.

There are five basic steps for using the Frame Routine:

    1. Select the topic

The teacher introduces the lesson topic and provides students with a blank Frame. Students note the topic in the appropriate spaces on the graphic. This would most likely be the title of the reading selection.

    1. Determine the main ideas

Students record brief statements or words that summarize key ideas relating to the topic.

    1. Discuss the details

The details that are important for students to learn and remember are written on the Frame graphic in the essential details boxes. These essential details can later be ranked on the graphic according to level of importance.

    1. Develop the “Big Idea”

The teacher, small groups, or the whole class develop the Big Idea statement or the “So what?” idea. This statement is designed to help students understand how the topic fits with the overall context.
These statements can take the form of:

      • A short summary
      • A conclusion the student has drawn
      • A connection to a real-world application relevant to the student
    1. Evaluate the information

The teacher facilitates evaluation of the new information when it is clearly organized. Several follow-up activities can then be employed to extend students’ understanding of important concepts. Such activities might include the following:

    • Having in-depth discussions;
    • Debating various points;
    • Drawing conclusions;
    • Making connections to other ideas;
    • Forming predictions, or forecasts; and
    • Engaging in journal writing

About Heather Mullins

Heather Mullins is the Chief Academic Officer in Newton-Conover City Schools. She is a North Carolina Teaching Fellow who spent 12 years as a high school English Teacher. She received her B.S.Ed. in Secondary English Education from Western Carolina University. Heather completed her National Board Certification in Adolescent Young Adult English Language Arts in 2002. She holds an M.Ed. in Academically and Intellectually Gifted from UNC-Charlotte. Heather has served as a Curriculum Specialist in Hickory City Schools, an adjunct professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University, and a Professional Development Consultant for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. She completed her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership through Western Carolina University. Heather is one of the co-founders of #NCed Chat, North Carolina’s first Twitter chat for teachers. She is passionate about innovative practices, instructional technology, student ownership of learning, and supporting teachers. Heather serves on the advisory board for the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan, North Carolina School for the Deaf and Catawba Science Center. She is a recipient of the 2015 NCMLE Central Office Administrator to Watch Award. She also received the 2016 Don Chalker Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership. Heather is the proud mother of one son, Jackson.

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