Sunday, January 4, 2015

Practicing What You Pin: Textmapping

Have you ever heard of textmapping?

So, a long time ago, I pinned an image that led me to this site. I spent a while exploring all the awesome information here and couldn't wait to try it in my classroom!

Long story, very short - textmapping starts with a scroll. Students take their reading and tape the pages together, creating a scroll that can be rolled out on the floor allowing the reader to view the text in its entirety, rather than flipping through pages. Once students have their scroll, they use different colored markers/highlighters/colored pencils to mark up, or "map," the text in ways that are relevant to their reading purpose.

I spent the next several months with 8-10 intervention students (these are students who do not qualify for special education services, but do demonstrate a significant struggle in ELA and/or math) textmapping like crazy! Overtime, I deviated a bit from the ideas on the textmapping website and modified it to fit my needs, but I was really happy with the results. I watched kids grow in confidence when reading and writing about a complex text and I really came to see value in getting struggling learners to picture the text as a "whole," which the scroll concept behind textmapping clearly encourages.

Well, fast forward three years... textmapping had seemed to fall of my map. For some reason, (you know, little things, like new curriculum, new standards, new grading policies, new evaluation models... THOSE earthshaking little things), textmapping disappeared from my lesson plans.

Anyway, about a month ago, I was talking to the co-teacher who shares one of my ELA blocks with me. We were discussing some of the struggles that a few of our students were having and I suddenly remembered textmapping. After providing a little history, she decided to give it a try with a small group.

The students were reading a great story called "Ghost of the Lagoon" by Armstrong Sperry. The objective was for students to read the story and then evaluate the thinking and actions of the main character and determine if he qualifies as a hero. On their scrolls, students were able to mark up the main character's thinking and actions (thinking in one color; actions in another). Once they did this, they were able to look at their scrolls and see all of their markings. This helps them make their evaluation. Then, it was time for them to put their answer in writing, using the evidence from the text to support their thinking. Their scrolls made this easy because now all they had to do was go back to each of the places they marked and include that information as proof of their argument.

I wasn't in the first day she tried this, but these are the pictures she snapped that show students working with their scrolls. She was so excited with how well the mapping went she actually texted these to me from school!

So, as we all get back to school after the winter break, spend some time on the textmapping website, or search around on Pinterest, and give it a try in your classroom!

Then, leave me a comment to let me know how it worked for you :)

Happy Teaching!!


  1. Hi! I found your blog through Teachers Pay Teachers. I am a middle school ELA teacher too! I would follow you here but I cannot seem to find a way to do so...I usually use bloglovin' - it'd be great to see you there!

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

    1. Hi! Thanks so much for reading! I am on bloglovin' :) If you go my post on Sept. 26, 2014, you can find the link. Here is the link to the post:

      I'm eager to start reading your blog, as well. I can never get enough middle school ELA :)

    2. Hi Jenna. Thanks for this wonderful post about scrolls and #textmapping. Here's a new doc about scrolls from my site: Please share it with your colleagues -- and on the web. I am so glad to read a post from a New Jersey teacher! Nice to see my work is finding a home in my home state!

    3. Would you please ask your colleague if I may use the two photographs above? I need photos on my site. These would be perfect. Reply here, or by email: Thanks!

    4. make that (auto correct seems to think I need a "w" between the "b" and the "r". Go figure!

    5. Hi Dave!! Thanks for reading and the new scrolls document! I'm such a fan of your website. Let me talk to my co-worker and I will get back to you!

    6. Hi, Jenna. Thanks for reminding me about textmapping. I used it years and years ago, and hadn't thought of it for ages. I was using it with my small grade 4/5 class yesterday on the text "Diary of a Wombat" and the kids love it. So far we've marked places where the wombat's opinions would be different from the human's, another colour for the opposite, and circles and labels on the parts of the pictures that support those inferences. - Rose

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  3. Hi, Jenna,

    I enjoy your blog and thought you might be interested in how this post inspired some robust discussion in my class. After reading your post, I visited Dave Middlebrook's site and paired the scroll idea with an interactive notebook page. I used the story, "A Man Who Had No Eyes." Students need to pay attention to the reader cues in this story or they will miss the point of the big reveal in the ironic twist at the end. Both the scroll and the interactive page gave students some concrete tools to use while developing their inferences around the story. I circulated among the groups, clarifying, asking questions, and recording student dialogue as a reference point for conferencing. It was very successful and student engagement was high!

    1. I love it!! Thanks so much for taking the time to post :)