Sequencing in Teaching: Definitions and Examples

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  • 0:00 What Is Sequencing?
  • 1:15 Why Do We Teach Sequencing?
  • 2:58 How Do We Use It?
  • 5:49 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Knowing the sequence of events in a story is an important skill for children to learn. Without it, they'll struggle with understanding what they read. In this lesson, you'll learn exactly what sequencing is, take a look at some examples, and see how it's used in education.

What Is Sequencing?

Kids sequence naturally. They know that they get up, brush their teeth, and then eat breakfast. However, knowing routines and understanding how these steps come together to form sequence is a different matter. Following a sequence of events, or sequencing, means being able to identify the components of an event in order, such as beginning, middle, and end of a story or the steps in a science experiment.

Sequencing events in a story is a comprehension strategy for reading. Important reading skills such as comprehension and connecting depend on the readers' ability to understand how major events unfold. Understanding words like 'first,' 'next,' 'then,' and 'after' help readers make sense of time in reading.

Sequencing events is also a skill children will use in science. As an inquiry skill, kids need it to perform the steps in experiments, observe and record changes, and understand how and why things change over time. In math, computation problems often follow a certain order. Social studies, particularly history, uses sequence of events to make sense of what happened and when.

Why Do We Teach Sequencing?

To understand information read in text, students need to be able to make sense of it as it is being read so they are able to recall it later. We often see beginning and emergent readers who haven't been directly exposed to sequencing retelling a story out of order. Without explicit instruction, they don't know the order of events matter. More experienced readers often fixate on pieces of a story they find most interesting, forgetting other important details.

Teaching and helping readers understand the importance of order of events helps them deepen comprehension. The ability to correctly identify beginning, middle, and end allows readers to retell the story later and makes the task of remembering important events manageable. Teachers will also see correct use of sequencing in reading when students begin writing stories; their ability to form a plot depends on the understanding that events happen in a specific and particular sequence of events.

In math and science, we support sequence of events concepts every time we teach methods and computations. For example, when you explain the steps to solving an addition problem, you've indirectly taught students that the order of steps needed to correctly solve the problem is important. In the same way, scientists use sequence of events when performing experiments. All steps in experimentation depend on a prescribed order; you can't perform an experiment before you make a hypothesis in the scientific world. While the words 'sequence of events' and 'sequencing' aren't as prominent in math and science as they are in literacy, the concepts are as important.

How Do We Use It?


When beginning to teach sequencing, keep it simple. Find text that will easily support the three main ideas of beginning, middle, and end. Move to more complex text after readers have mastered this concept.

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