Directed Activities Related to Text (DARTs)/Document

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Categories of DARTs

DARTs can be grouped into two main categories.

Reconstruction activities These activities use modified text. The original text is broken down and given to pupils either in segments or as blocks of text with gaps. Pupils use prediction and then fill in gaps or sequence segments to reconstruct the text. This type of activity can help pupils develop an understanding of the structure of different text types. The following are examples of reconstruction activities

  • Text completion (cloze): Pupils predict deleted words, sentences or phrases.
  • Diagram completion: Pupils predict deleted labels on diagrams using text and other diagrams as sources.
  • Table completion: Pupils predict deleted items using table categories and text as sources of reference.
  • Completion activities with disordered text: Pupils predict the logical order for sequence or classify segments according to categories given by the teacher.
  • Prediction: Pupils predict the next part(s) of a text.
Practical tip
Cloze exercises need careful planning. Pupils can often choose the word

from its grammar rather than any engagement with meaning. It can be better to allow pupils to choose the words for themselves rather than from a teacher-given list. It is also better if there is a range of possibilities and pupils have to explain their choices: refer back to the video sequence in the RE lesson in task 3 where the teacher insists on explanations for choices.

Analysis activities These activities use unmodified text. Pupils select specific information from the text and then represent it in a different form. This type of activity helps pupils develop their analytical skills. The following are examples of analysis activities.

  • Underlining or highlighting: Pupils search for target words or phrases that relate to one aspect of content, for example words or phrases that support a particular view.
  • Labelling: Pupils label segments of text, for example they might label a scientific account using a set of labels provided (e.g. prediction, evidence and conclusion).
  • Segmenting: Pupils segment paragraphs or text into information units or label segments of text.
  • Diagrammatic representation: Pupils construct diagrams from text, for example flow diagrams, concept maps or labelled models.
  • Tabular representation: Pupils extract information from a written text, then construct and represent it in tabular form.

Practical tip
A school in north-east England reported that it had raised attainment at a stroke by using some intervention money to buy every pupil in the school a highlighter pen and teaching them how to use it.

Pointers for planning DARTs

  • Time is required to train pupils to talk constructively in pairs and groups, if it is new to them.
  • If you laminate resources such as sequencing strips or texts for highlighting, they can be used again.
  • Learning may be implicit. Plan to draw out the learning and how it was learned, and relate it to subject-specific objectives. This develops the metacognitive aspects discussed in the research.
Practical tips
Use of DARTs is most effective when
  • worked on in pairs or small groups;
  • the emphasis is not on finding a single ‘right’ answer but on giving reasons for answers;
  • speaking and listening is the main activity, because the discussion of possibilities leads to closer examination of the text and develops engagement and understanding.

Care must be taken

  • not to overuse DARTs – they can then become counterproductive;
  • to make sure that texts, although challenging, are also accessible.

Text restructuring Text restructuring involves reading a text and then recasting the information in another format – for example flow charts, diagrams, Venn diagrams, grids, lists, maps, charts and concept maps – or rewriting in another genre. The strategies involved in recasting information are also useful for making notes. Depending on the format of the original text and the recast text, skills used will include

  • identifying what is important and relevant in a text;
  • applying what is known to a new context;
  • remodelling the content and format of the text;
  • classifying (being aware of the characteristics of) different genres;
  • reading critically;
  • summarising and prioritising;
  • writing and designing.

Case Study

Case study 1 At the end of a unit on the slave trade taught to a Year 9 class a history teacher wanted to use the Durban Conference on Racism, which took place in 2001, as a context for a text-restructuring activity. The end-product was to be a debate on the question: ‘Should the British government pay reparations to Africa for the ongoing effects of the exploitation of its natural resources that began with the slave trade?’ He planned the activity as follows.

Step 1 Share the learning objective of the lesson by using the key question

  • Should the British government pay reparations to Africa for the ongoing effects of the exploitation of its natural resources that began with the slave trade? At this point, explain the key phrases and the expected learning outcomes.

Step 2 Explain the concept of reparations using the Durban conference as the context from which examples and illustrations can be drawn. Step 3 Provide the text-restructuring grid [below] for pupils to use when analysing the historical sources provided. Pupils will have seen some of these sources before in a different context. Give them 15 minutes to consider as many sources as possible from the selection provided and make a judgement about Britain’s culpability in relation to each source used. Step 4 After they have looked at the sources, give pupils a fixed time to prepare their contribution to the debate. Explain the format for the debate, including guidelines for participation. Step 5 The whole class, including those who presented arguments, take a vote. In the plenary ask pupils to explain why they voted as they did, selecting the pieces of evidence that carried the most weight for them.

Instructions for pupils Look at the sources provided and complete the grid.

For the purposes of the debate, choose three pieces of evidence that most show Britain’s responsibility or lack of responsibility depending on the overall conclusion you have reached.

Source Conclusion drawn from the source (proves Britain was responsible or not) Explanation of how the source supports the conclusion drawn
…. …. …..
Overall conclusion

Task Classroom assignment: text restructuring 15 minutesCreate your own text-restructuring grid. It can be designed as a general-purpose tool that will support many different learning objectives. You could choose one of the following

  • A compare-and-contrast grid that requires pupils to look for similarities and differences. The text selected for use with the grid can be visual (e.g. two painted portraits with subjects in a similar pose but in different artistic styles) or written (e.g. two news reports dealing with the same event but from two different newspapers, one broadsheet and one tabloid).
  • A cause-and-effect grid that requires pupils to highlight or underline key events which are then sorted under the headings cause and effect. Allow for ambiguity: some events might be categorised as both! Narrative texts or recount texts are best for this kind of activity.

Plan the use of your grid into a lesson where the activity is appropriate to the learning objectives. Make a note of how pupils responded to the task.

Practical tip Always be prepared to ask pupils

  • What makes you think that?
  • What tells you that in the text?
  • Find me a word/phrase/sentence which proves your view.
  • How does it prove your view?
  • How does that compare with …?

Many DARTs activities guide pupils into recording what they have learned rather than just asking them to take notes. However, there are times when notes are required, perhaps as an aide-mémoire for later reference or as part of preparation for a presentation.

Wray and Lewis remark that pupils are rarely taught to take notes, yet we expect them to be able to do it easily by Key Stage 4. They comment that pupils will often just copy chunks of text as they cannot prioritise or decide what is relevant, and this may match some of your experience.

Note-taking involves complex skills

  • close reading, listening, watching;
  • making sense of an original text;
  • determining what is relevant;
  • identifying relationships between ideas;
  • understanding how the writer has arrived at the key ideas;
  • critically reflecting on the validity of the ideas in the text;
  • selecting ideas appropriate to the task;
  • transforming the language of the original into a form which is meaningful to the reader, even when they are producing an aide-mémoire for themselves;
  • abbreviating language to produce a summary.

Task Case study The notes reprinted below came from a Year 8 pupil who was asked to make notes on pollution from your own reading as a homework assignment.


Read through the response and decide

  • how far the way the task was set contributed to the pupil’s difficulties;
  • what other difficulties the pupil had – use the above list to support you;
  • what you could do to make the task more focused for the pupil.


Why take notes? Reflect on

  • why you ask pupils to take notes;
  • when you ask pupils to take notes;
  • how you ask them to do it;
  • how you prepare them to do it;
  • how you could improve the process based on what you have read so far.

Task Classroom assignment: planning note-taking When planning the next note-taking exercise, plan to explain

  • why pupils need to do it;
  • how they should do it;
  • how you will use what they do, e.g. as an assessment or to check their understanding.