The TRAPP Method: A Testing Strategy for Reading Passages

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What is the TRAPP Method?

TRAPP is an acronym for basic testing strategies that students should implement when taking a test that involves reading a lengthy passage of fiction or non-fiction.






When teaching this strategy for the first time, write each step on the board and provide students with a passage that is at least one page in length and has several multiple choice questions that follow.

Modeling the TRAPP Method

After you have written the acronym on the board, you are going to model the strategy one step at a time.

TRACK - simply put, students should be tracking while they read. When you track, you use a finger, ruler, or pencil to underline and follow what your eyes are reading. Tracking helps students to not lose their place within the passage, and the research behind speed reading techniques have long supported the benefits of tracking while one reads. I like to use the three finger technique of tracking that involves making the “OK” hand gesture, compressing your middle, ring, and pinky finger together, and angling those three fingers so that they form a plane to anchor under the sentence the tester is reading. I then show the students how my hand and three fingers will move to follow along with the text while I read. Some students prefer one finger or a pencil, and I would encourage them to do what is most comfortable to them. For some reason, students have been taught that weak readers use a finger to follow along, but that is simply not the case. It may take some getting used to, but read a few paragraphs aloud, encouraging students to use their finger to follow along, and then have them read a paragraph on their own while tracking. They should read the passage in its entirety before going on to the next step.

REREAD - Rereading is a difficult step for students to execute because it requires extra effort. Rereading is essential when it comes to understanding the details of test passages. If a student is afraid that the time constraints of a test will keep them from rereading, I make sure I explain that the rereading process doesn’t have to be as involved as the initial read-through. Students should scan the first paragraph, or reread, before completing the next two steps in the TRAPP method together.

ANALYZE - While rereading or scanning the paragraph, students need to analyze or think about what they read. Model with them the questions they should be asking in their heads while they reread. “What is this paragraph about?” “Who are the main characters, what is the conflict, or what is the structure of this passage?” “Is it a journal, a news article, or is it a fiction piece?” Ask several of these questions and remind students that the answers to these questions will help them recall and remember what they are read when they come to the questions at the end of the passage.

PARAPHRASE - or summarizing what students read after analyzing a paragraph will help students to remember what they read. I will run a transparency of the first page of the testing passage and show students how simple their paraphrasing should be. Paraphrasing should be a short chunk that explains what the paragraph they just reread is about. Students are often intimidated by paraphrasing because they think it should be lengthy and elaborate. Modeling an entire passage’s paraphrasing reassures students that paraphrasing is simple and “doable”!

PULL PROOF - The final “P” in the TRAPP method involves proving the answers to multiple choice questions with support from the passage. Students should be referring back to the passage for every questions' answer. They need to be sure they have proof for their answers and only through going back and forth between the passage and the question can they do that!

Making the TRAPP Method a HABIT!

The TRAPP Method may involve many steps, but it does aid in comprehension of testing passages. Reminding students of the steps frequently and having them use them on practice tests will enable them to recall the strategy on testing day. A great and easy way to remind them of the steps is to create a large poster of the acronym to display on your classroom wall or board. I also make a photocopy of the acronym, laminate it, and have them put it in their classroom binder. If you have an animal as your school’s mascot, incorporate the mascot into the poster. For example, if our school’s mascot is the Cougars, then title the TRAPP testing method as the COUGAR TRAPP. Use images of your mascot completing each step of the method and encourage students to take “Cougar Pride” in using the method on their tests. It may be cheesy, but it will help students to remember this important testing strategy come testing day.