Free Resources for Students and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in China - by Paul Sparks

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Paul Sparks, Sino-Canadian International College, Guangxi University, Online English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas for Semester 2 Reading Lessons...



Reading: Scanning Stories for Specific Information

Lesson Objectives: To use scan reading to find specific information in a short story.

Instructions: Read the short story, then scan it again, looking at important information to see if you can solve the mystery.

Note for Review - Skimming and Scanning:
Before starting to read a text in detail, the reader should take a moment to preview the text. Read quickly, without pausing to study the details. This is called skim reading or skimming.

The reader should understand: which audience the text was written (general public, professionals, etc.) what type of text it is (report, informal letter, formal letter, article, advertisement, etc.) what the purpose of the author is (to describe, to inform, to explain, to instruct, to persuade) and the general contents of the text.

After having skimmed the text, the reader can study the text in more detail, reading more slowly and carefully and looking for specific information that he is interested in. This is called scanning.

"The Case of the Ruined Roses"
by Esther B. Wheeler


"That was a neat program on UFO's," said Nina to her cousin Max as they walked down the street. "I think what really amazed me was that UFO's were reported as early as 1800."
"That's pretty hard to believe," said Max. "Anyway, do you really believe there are such things?" Nina started to answer when they heard a loud scream coming from Coach Thornton's house.
"Come on," shouted Max. They ran into the yard where the coach was staring at ten rose bushes that had been pulled from the ground.
"Look at that!" he demanded. "Just look at that."
"That's terrible," cried Nina. "Who could have done it?"
Coach Thornton looked disgusted. "I had to bench three of my best football players for cutting class. They were pretty mad at me."
"First thing, we'd better get these roses back in the ground," said Max. "Then we'll figure out who did it."
Nina and Max helped Coach Thornton replant the roses. Then he invited them in for milk and cookies.
"Now," said Nina. "Am I right? You benched Sam Cartland, Mike Brooks, and Alex Avery."
"And you lost the game," added Max.
The coach rubbed his eyes. "I know, but rules are rules."
"I'll bet one of them did it to get even," said Nina. "How about we nose around a little?"
"Let's see," said Max after they left. "Coach said the roses were all right when he looked out at nine. But shortly after ten, he found them pulled up."
"So, we check to see who doesn't have an alibi between nine and ten. Look!" Nina pointed. "There's Alex Avery over at the Dairy Bar."
Alex looked up as they came in. "Hi kids," he drawled.
"Hello, yourself," said Max. "We missed seeing you in the football game."
"That was a bummer all right. But I guess the coach didn't have any choice."
"Where you been all morning?" asked Nina.
"I've been right here since nine." He turned to the girl behind the counter. "Isn't that right, Amy?"
"Uh huh. You helped me carry in that heavy box."
"So you weren't anywhere near Coach Thornton's house?" asked Max.
Alex looked surprised. "No, I'm not mad at him, but I don't intend to visit him."
After they left, Nina looked down the street. "That's Sam Cartland's house. Let's see what he's been doing."
"What do you two want," growled Sam when he came to the door.
"Hey, lighten up, Sam," said Max. "Can we talk with you?"
"Sure, come on in." He pressed a button on his remote control and turned off his VCR. "I've been watching some football tapes to improve my game."
"We wondered what you were doing between nine and ten this morning," said Nina.
"I was right here watching that program on UFO's."
"That was a good program," said Nina. Remember when that guy from Roswell, New Mexico insisted he had been abducted?"
"Yeah," laughed Sam. "The one with the bushy hair. Funny how this has been going on for so long. That pilot, Kenneth Arnold, started it back in 1947 with the stuff he saw."
"Very interesting," said Max, trying not to look bored. "But we have to get going."
"Maybe we can find Mike Brooks working out at the gym," said Nina as they left.
"Probably," agreed Max.
They found him on the treadmill. "Hey, you two want to join down here? It's a great place to work out."
"Not right now," said Max. "We were wondering about what you were doing from nine to ten this morning."
"Right here. You can check the log book. Why?"
"Just curious," said Nina with a smile as they went back to the desk. Sure enough, Mike had signed in at five of nine.
This is great," Nina groaned. "They all have alibis."
"I'm not so sure of that," said Max.

Can you solve the case?

Who does Max suspect?
Mike Brooks
Sam Cartland
Alex Avery

Here's another clue:
"Didn't you tell me that UFO's had been around as far back as 1800?" asked Max.
"Oh yes," said Nina. "This one professor said it could be even farther back. Why?"
"Well, Sam Cartland said they had only been reported since 1947. That's only 51 years ago."
"Oh, oh," said Nina. "That part about seeing them way back came at the very end of the show. Do you suppose?"




Sam Cartland

How did Max figure it out?
Sam taped the program on UFO's and had almost finished watching it when Max and Nina showed up. He was accurate in discussing it with Nina except for the last part which he hadn't seen yet. He admitted being so angry with Coach Thornton that he pulled up his roses. He apologized to the coach and promised to do extra yard work for him.

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