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Middle School SMARTS Update: Skim and Scoop

Updated: May 14, 2019

Executive Function Program in Churchill Middle School


As mentioned in our Fall blog spot, the SMARTS Executive Function Program is

designed to help educators teach students different executive functioning strategies,

among them: metacognition, understanding and prioritizing time, goal-setting, study

skills, and note taking.



Students in the middle school have already been instructed in strategies in goal

setting, analyzing common errors, purposeful highlighting, and time management. Unit 3 of the SMARTS curriculum focuses on cognitive flexibility: shifting and flexible thinking. “Often referred to as cognitive flexibility, shifting and flexible thinking encompass the ability to think flexibly and to shift approaches easily” (SMARTS, 2014). Recently, 6th and 7th graders have been given specific instruction in Lesson 3, Skim and Scoop. In this lesson, students learn a reading strategy that teaches them “how to comprehend what they read efficiently and how to differentiate between the main ideas and details of a text” (SMARTS, 2014). Using this strategy, students are able to break down and understand extensive, non-fiction reading passages in less time, avoiding frustration and fatigue.


As previously stated, Skim and Scoop is best used for nonfiction passages such

as articles or text book chapters. Students first skim the entire passage for repeated

words, and then scoop these words to determine the main idea. Students then number each paragraph, creating an outline. Next, students skim and scoop each paragraph for repeated words or phrases, and they annotate the main idea for that paragraph along the numbered paragraphs. When the activity is completed, student have an outline complete with the main idea and subtopics. Using the Skim and Scoop method can help students who struggle with reading retrieve the salient information from a textbook or extensive article without losing steam. The efficiency of this reading strategy could make homework assignments and test prep seem less daunting.


The Skim and Scoop strategy does take some practice, and it may not work for

everyone. However, by exposing students to new and effective strategies, we give them the tools that empower them to make these decisions for themselves.


Gina Manes

Middle School Program Coordinator

The Churchill School and Center

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