Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan for Nonfiction Comprehension: Skimming Text

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8


ObjectivesStudents will:



  • Learn to identify relevant information by using text elements as "signs" (includes: section headings, chapter titles, illustrations, photographs, graphs, diagrams, maps, math examples, repeated words, boxes and sidebars, index, captions, boldface terms or concepts, key words in questions)
  • Locate essential information that can help them answer a question


  • Textbook chapter or a nonfiction trade book


Step 1: Explain to students that by skimming text they will be able to find the elements that are worth the most to them and leave what they don't really need or want behind.

Step 2: Explain the goal for skimming this particular text:

Example: Discover the characteristics of the Renaissance man and woman and list them.

Step 3: Think aloud as you go through the text, modeling how to skim to locate information.


"Let's check the Table of Contents for chapters that seem to discuss the Renaissance man and woman."

"I remember there being something mentioned about this at the end of the chapter, so I'll go back through the end-of-chapter pages."

"There is a mention on these two pages: I'll re-read this entire section."

"Here are bold face headings that say: 'The Renaissance Man' and 'The Renaissance Woman.' I'll reread the section about men and list details. Then I'll read the second section about women again."

Step 4: Gather feedback and questions about your process from students. Encourage them to share their take on skimming. Then invite them to practice finding information that is under a boldface heading, in a graph, diagram, or in a caption.

Step 5: Model how to use key words in a question to locate information.

Example: If the question asks, "What is the feudal pyramid?" Laura Robb uses this think-aloud with her 5th graders:

"There are two key words in this question: feudal and pyramid. I remember seeing a triangle-shaped model of this in the chapter, but I'm not sure if it was at the beginning, middle, or end. To save time, I'll skim the index and see what's listed under feudal. Here it is. With essential words, I know the index can help me quickly locate information."

Step 6: Repeat step 4 and continue modeling and practicing until students demonstrate they can successfully skim to locate information.


This lesson was adapted from Laura Robb's  Teaching Reading in Social Studies, Science, and Math: Practical Ways to Weave Comprehension Strategies into Your Content Area Teaching. For more lessons from this book, see Posing Questions  and Connect & Apply.

  • Subjects:
    Content Area Reading, Literature, Reading Comprehension
  • Skills:
    Reading Comprehension, Nonfiction Texts