Tea Party


This is an interactive pre-reading strategy that frontloads students’ knowledge of text information and also allows them to become familiar with phrasing and content words. It was adapted from Kylene Beer’s book “When Kids Can’t Read.” The strategy can be used with both narrative and expository texts.

Students are reading, writing, listening, and speaking. In addition, students are making connections, sequencing events, and considering causes of actions and the effects of those actions. Furthermore, students take an active role in meaning making well before even reading the selection.

1. From the text about to be read, choose and copy _ meaningful words, phrases, and or sentences onto large index cards or heavyweight paper. (The amount of info chosen should represent half of your class number since you will provide duplicates so each student can have his/her own.) Whether working with narrative or expository texts, use the exact words from the text to be placed on the cards and look for words or phrases with more than one meaning.

2. Show the stack of cards/papers and explain that each student will have his/her own and there are different words, phrases, and sentences on each set of cards.
3. Review the directions for the activity with the students:
At the sound of the music,
ž Move about the room and share your card with as many classmates as possible, work in pairs not groups
ž Listen to others as they read their cards
ž Discuss how these cards might be related
ž Speculate on what these cards, collectively, might be about

When the music stops,
ž Get into groups of 4-5 and share your cards with everyone in the group. Discuss what you heard and what connections were made, brainstorm possible predictions about the reading about to be done, explain what specific words/phrases/sentences helped create the predictions, and add any personal experience or prior knowledge a student might have shared.
ž Write a “We think” group paragraph which includes their prediction about the reading/topic to be covered and how they arrived at their conclusions (metacognition regarding their inferencing process). .
ž Be prepared to share your “We think” paragraph and explain how you came up with it.

4. Read the assigned selection.

5. Revisit the predictions.

Tea Party
This PDInFocus video, titled Literacy Strategies: Introducing Vocabulary, shows how a high school Biology teacher uses the Tea Party to introduce vocabulary as well as portions of the text. To find the video, use the filtered search, click on the English Language Learner channel, and then search the title. To watch the high school portion of the video, view from 8:25-10:45 minutes of the video.

Silent Tea Party Video
This TeachingChannel video shows how a silent Tea Party works in a 10th grade English classroom. This pre-reading strategy allows for students to make predictions from quotes to prepare for a challenging text. (Grades 9-12, ELA, Literature, CCSS: ELA.RL.9-10)

Kim Tally, an Algebra I teacher, used the Tea Party idea after teaching different concepts in math. This example is for a linear programming word problem.

Candice Colvin, an Assistant Principal, created this Tea Party using Night by Elie Wiesel to model how to use it with students.