Table of Contents Activity

By Laura Hospitál on Sep 03, 2015

The Latin word scientia, from which the the work "science" hails,  means "to know".  The heart of a scientist is an unquenching desire to know more.  This activity calls students to question and ask "Why?"        
I often use this introductory activity early in the year as I introduce students to the textbook.  


Only the textbook is needed for this activity. 


  • Textbook for the course
  • Paper in appropriate medium (braille or print) in order to record the questions. 
  • Braillewriter or braille device


  1. Warm up: Discuss the Latin word "scientia".  (See intro)
  2. After passing out the textbooks, help student to find the Table of Contents.  For braille users, give students the correct volume.
  3. Discuss with the class the function of the Table of Contents.   I have been surprised at how many students are not competent at perusing a Table of Contents to find the appropriate chapter for given content.  Some don't even know what the function of the table of contents is. If necessary, have students look up various infomration and prompt them to orally anwer questions based on the Table of Contents in order to verify comprehension of the use of the Table of Contents.
  4. Assign students homework to read over the table of contents and to compose at least 4 questions that arise as they read over the table of contents.  The students are not responsible for finding the answers, only composing questions of interest. Remind them that asking questions is the heart of science. 
  5. I often explain to students that we will not be covering all of the textbook during the school year.  Having them compose questions helps me to decide which extra content to include in the course.


  • This activity could be completed in class if time allows.  This would be more appropriate for a class in which reading levels are lower.
  • This activity could be completed as a paired reading activity.  Please see description in the recent blog on incorporating ELA into instruction.
table of contents collage