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Teachers: Literacy: Text

Last Updated: Thursday December 09 2004 16:59 GMT

Scanning for facts

Russia is preparing for a Mars mission
Russian space bosses are starting to plan for a mission to Mars.

Students scan for facts in this story and develop a list of top scanning tips.

Learning aims

  • Scan for facts in a given text.
  • Write a word or phrase as an answer to a factual question.


    Ask students:

  • What does scanning mean? To look quickly but not very thoroughly through a text to spot information you are looking for.

  • Why do you think it's important to think about the information you are looking for before you start scanning? If you know what you are looking for, it's easier to find the answers.

    Russia is preparing for a Mars mission
    Give students a copy of this story and ask them to scan for the answers to the questions at the bottom.

    Answers to the questions:

    1. How long will voluneteers spend in a capsule? 500 days.
    2. What rooms will there be in the capsule? A bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.
    3. Where will the oxygen come from? The capsule's technology should make all the oxygen needed.
    4. How many volunteers will stay in the capsule? Six.
    5. What will happen to the water they use? It will be recycled.
    6. How many tonnes of food will they have to store? Five tonnes.
    7. What is the longest time someone has spent in space so far? 438 days.

    Ask students: How did you tackle the exercise? What did you do first?

    Find out the most accurate and most efficent (fastest) methods. Come up with a list of top scanning tips.

    This is an example of a good method:

    1. Read all the questions first, so you know what you are looking for.
    2. Scan through the story and underline any answers you find.
    3. Re-read the questions to see which ones you haven't answered.
    4. Re-scan the story and underline the information you missed the first time round.
    5. If you decide to write down the answer, rather than underlining the text, use as few words as possible. There is no need to write out a long hand answer e.g. The volunteers will spend 500 days in the capsule.

    Ask students:

  • When do you scan for iformation? E.g. Reading a newspaper, doing an exam.
  • Which jobs involve scanning? E.g. Lawyer scanning through case notes, bosses scanning through minutes of meeting.

    Main activity

    International space station
    Using the class' top scanning tips, students read this story and answer the questions. To test efficiency, they could time themselves.

    Answers to the questions:

    1. Where did the Russian spacecraft blast off from? Kazakhstan in West central Asia.
    2. How far above China did the link-up take place? 250 miles.
    3. Which type of rocket were the visiting Russian cosmonauts and the French researcher delivering? A new Soyuz rocket, lifeboat.
    4. When are the American and two Russians who live aboard the ISS scheduled to return to Earth? December.
    Artist's impression of rocket
    5. What is the name of the space shuttle that they will return on? Endeavour.

    Students write their own fact-scanning questions to this story.

    Extension activity

    Students scan this story and answer the questions.


    Recap on the skill of scanning for facts.

    Students take it in turns to read out a questions for "Supersonic rocket fails launch test" and other students try to find the answer as quickly as possible.

    For hundreds more lessons, click on Teachers on the left hand side.

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