Retrieval Charts to improve reading comprehension

Retrieval Charts
A retrieval chart is a simple database which usually takes the form of a matrix or grid. Information can be
recorded, organised and displayed on a chart for the purpose of retrieving the information and using it in
some other way.
While retrieving information gives the chart its purpose and its name, students are often involved in the
steps of constructing and developing the charts as a tool to organise, analyse and synthesise their
gathered information.
1. Determine how the information will be recorded: independently, jointly, or in groups.
2. Determine how much teacher support is needed in both constructing and drawing up the chart.
3.  Encourage clarity in entering the information to facilitate the retrieval of information.
4.  Ensure students become increasingly familiar with the steps involved in constructing a retrieval
chart, recording and organising information, and retrieving information to use for another purpose,
eg graphing information, writing an information report.
5. Ensure that opportunities are available to retrieve information from the chart and for students to
use it for a variety of purposes.
1. Explain the steps of constructing a retrieval chart to the students.
2. Have the students describe the field and scope of information they will be using.
3. Assist students in selecting appropriate categories to record information.
4. When jointly constructing the chart, make explicit why the particular categories have been chosen.
5.  As students become more competent in researching information they should become more involved
in constructing the retrieval chart as well as recording information on it. 
6. After brainstorming sessions, retrieval charts may be developed to organise the information.
7. Model different ways in which the information on a retrieval chart may be used, eg informally
comparing information, as the basis for a class debate or discussion, information to include in an
information report or data to be transferred onto a graph.
8. At its simplest level, a retrieval chart may include one or two headings under which information is
9. A more advanced retrieval chart may be devised by students and will involve the selection of
categories, modification of these as the research takes place, and group or individual decisions
about how the retrieval chart is to be used both to organise and communicate information.
10. Class or group retrieval charts are also useful ways of recording information that is collected in an
ongoing way.  The charts also provide attractive displays where information can be readily accessed
during the course of a unit of work.


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