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The Textmapping Project
A resource for teachers improving reading comprehension skills instruction

Scrolls are the Foundation

Bullet point Textmapping starts with a scroll. Scrolls are an ancient technology, but they offer clear advantages over books - advantages that are particularly useful in the context of classroom instruction. When you open a book, you can only see two facing pages at a time; when you roll out a scroll, you can see the entire text - the entire length of the scroll - all at once. Here's how it looks:

Open a book, and you see two facing pages...drawing of an open book.

...but unroll a scroll, and you see the entire text.

Drawing of an unrolled scroll.

Bullet point Photograph of a smiling teacher sitting on floor with scroll unrolled in front of her.Scrolls give you a better handle on comprehension. They enable you and your students to see more information, such as the heading structure, illustrations, captions, key words, and other important pre-reading cues. On a scroll, all of this information is explicit - in the aggregate, in full context. In a book, this information can only be seen in pieces (two facing pages at a time) and must be assembled in the abstract from memory. Unlike books, scrolls enable you to visually comprehend the text as a whole; they make the notion of a whole text concrete and explicit; they set the scene for you to model - concretely and explicitly - the skills and strategies that are the foundation of comprehension.

Bullet point Scrolls enable the eye to comprehend. The simple act of displaying a text in scroll-form reveals information which often otherwise goes unnoticed. This enriches discussion and understanding.

Bullet point Unlike school-owned textbooks and library books, scrolls can be marked. Because you can mark them up, scrolls are an excellent medium for teaching and learning. Scrolls enable you to model the process of engaging a text - of actively pursuing meaning. It is not sufficient to describe this process. Students need to see it modeled concretely, explicitly, and repeatedly, on actual course content. Scrolls enable you to do this. Scrolls enable you to teach marking strategies directly on the texts that you are using in your classroom. This is an important advantage.

Drawing of a scroll that has been marked with highlighters and colored markers. Shows margin notes and certain key features circled, colored and otherwise marked.

[Note: This sketch is just an illustration. Your scroll will be assembled from either standard-size or enlarged-size photocopied pages of an actual text, so the text will be real and the words will be readable.]

You can mark a scroll to suit specific instructional purposes - to introduce a new chapter, teach active reading and study skills, clarify a key point, highlight key vocabulary, or review assigned readings - and your students can mark their scrolls to suit specific reading goals, as well as to suit their individual learning needs and abilities.

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