Current research suggests that one element of good comprehension is sequencing ability (Gouldthorp, Katsipis & Mueller, 2017). Lower-order comprehension skills would require readers to identify the order that events occurred in a passage in which the events are presented in the order that they actually occurred. Higher-order comprehension requires readers to identify the order of events that are presented in a non-linear fashion (out of the order in which it actually occurred through strategies such as flashbacks or reflections). Without an understanding of the correct sequence of events, the readers comprehension of the passage is diminished.

Each of the exercises in this section requires the student to determine the order in which events occurred.  This is achieved in several ways:

  • Identifying the event that occurred first.
  • Placing a number of sentences in a logical order to tell a story.
  • Deciding whether a statement concerning the order of an event occurring in a short passage is true or false.

If students have difficulty determining the sequence of events in a story, it may be helpful to get them to retell the key events in the order of occurrence by asking:  What happened first?  What happened next?  Then what?  What happened last?

It is also useful to draw their attention to key words in the text which signal order (e.g., first, after, then, finally, in the end, when, at the same time, before, during, as, following, since, while, next, etc.).

Another strategy is to have students think about the story as a movie.  If they were a movie director, turning the story into a movie, what would be the scenes they would set up and in what order?

Gouldthorp, B., Katsipis, L., &  Mueller, C.  (2017). An investigation of the role of sequencing in children’s reading comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly.  DOI:10.1002/rrq.186