The Hamburger Game is part of WPSU’s Blue Ribbon Readers, a collection of seven interactive games designed to help elementary school students gain ...
The Hamburger Game is part of WPSU’s Blue Ribbon Readers, a collection of seven interactive games designed to help elementary school students gain reading comprehension competences. The Hamburger Game helps students practice attentive reading by choosing the main idea—or "meat"—from a passage of text and dragging it to the center of a sandwich. A hamburger appears and they win points if they are right.
The process of identifying main ideas, supporting details and the author’s message will help students become better readers and cement the meaning of what they’ve read in their memory. Students also learn that if they pay attention while reading, it is easier to find the main idea and interpret the author’s message.
Heather teaches in a rural elementary school in Pennsylvania, a school so small that there is only one class for each grade. When she implemented The Hamburger Game along with other games designed to support reading strategies, her students’ test scores increased. Heather likes the idea that she can assign games to students to target areas where they need more practice. While some students are playing the games on their computers, Heather is free to work one-on-one with a student, or with a small reading group. Blue Ribbon Readers is like having an extra pair of hands in the classroom.
Heather and other teachers know that sounding out words and decoding are the first steps in teaching children to read. Teaching reading comprehension, however, has been a difficult task for educators for decades. Before extensive literacy research conducted in the 1980s, there were few evidence-based approaches for teaching comprehension. Some approaches increased reading levels and test scores while others had little success. Literacy experts, Susan Zimmermann and Chryse Hutchins offer 7 Keys to Comprehension: How to Help Your Kids Read It and Get It to help both teachers and parents employ successful approaches. Zimmermann and Hutchins contend that,
“Real comprehension has to do with thinking, learning, and expanding a reader’s knowledge and horizons. It has to do with building on past knowledge, mastering new information, connecting with the minds of those you’ve never met.” p. 7
WPSU used the Zimmermann Hutchins book as a guide to build Blue Ribbon Readers, believing that in addition to their successful approaches, practice is a crucial element. With the book as a foundation, WPSU worked with Penn State literacy faculty members and practicing classroom teachers, like Heather, to develop games like The Hamburger Game.
Skills practice can be tedious, and keeping children engaged long enough for them to build their skill base can be challenging. Thus, WPSU designed The Hamburger Game as part of the Blue Ribbon Readers collection, seven separate engaging games that correspond with the 7 keys to comprehension referenced above.
- Is identifying the main idea getting easier or harder as you practice? Why?
- If you stop to identify the main idea in a paragraph, you will be more likely to remember it. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
- Share your tips with your classmates for identifying the main idea in a text. For example, some say that the important idea is often the first or last sentence you read.