Preparing to Read
The Pre-Reading Plan involves formulating a central concept of the text, dividing the class into groups, and having students group ideas related to the topic into logical categories, reflecting upon their relationships, and eliminating redundant words from the list before reading. PreP can be used before reading various texts to uncover students’ prior knowledge and relate them to the text.
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Involves the examination of the title of the text and, possibly, the subtitles inside it; students then write out all the information that comes to their mind as concise bullet points. This can be used to uncover students’ prior knowledge and restructure it, as well as to agree upon central notions or ideas.
Students are asked questions about the contents of the text. These may include definitions of the key concepts, examples of related situations, key traits of the phenomena involved, or students’ own experience with the topic. Also, students may be asked leading questions to better predict the contents of the text (Yang, Newby, & Bill, 2005). In a social studies classroom, these may be used especially when discussing topics that are related to phenomena existing today.
Discussing the purposes of reading
The teacher may ask students about for what purpose they think the text is provided to them to engage them in critical thinking, or the teacher may offer several purposes to be discussed. It is also possible to discuss the desired outcomes of the reading. This strategy can be used before reading virtually any text.
Discussing the author
It is possible to consider the author of the text and discuss the students’ knowledge about her/him. It may help to put the text in a broader context and help relate the students’ knowledge about the author to the ideas given in the text. This strategy can be used when reading works of any prominent authors that students are already familiar with.
Reading to Learn
Students may be asked to place the text in its historical context. The learners should reflect upon the contemporary values they are adherents of, and the values and perceptions of the time during which the text was written. The strategy can be used while reading any works that were written a significant amount of time ago.
Reflecting upon challenges to student’s convictions
Students may be encouraged to compare the perceptions expressed in the text to their ones, and analyze the arguments for and against the new perceptions – both the ones provided in the text and the ones students can think of. This can be used with any text expressing non-mainstream perceptions.
Summarizing the text
While reading, students may be encouraged to take notes of the text by writing out key ideas and supporting arguments from the text in a concise form. For example, it is possible to write out the main idea of each paragraph. This can be done along with outlining the text, which will allow learners to better navigate their notes (Sporer, Brunstein, & Kieschke, 2009). It can be used with virtually any text in a social studies class.
Direct Reading Thinking Activity involves discussing what students know about the topic before reading, predicting what the text could contain from the title, subheadings, and illustrations, discussing what has been read, and modifying predictions about further contents after reading a subsection. DRTA can be used only with a text none of the students have read before.
Asking the author
Students are encouraged to formulate questions related to the contents of the text or the author of the text. The learners may then attempt to discuss these questions and guess the author’s probable viewpoint. These guesses can be verified or refuted with the further parts of the text. Best used with a text the context of the creation of which is familiar to the learners.
After finishing reading the text, students are given questions related to their understanding of it (asking about how the text can be used in the real world, a surprising fact they learned, something they would like to know more about, etc.), and write brief responses. This can be used with virtually any text.
Question-Answer Relationship Strategy involves asking students questions about the text and encouraging them to explain how the answer is presented in the text (directly in the text as a fact, implied, derived from the text and the students’ background knowledge, or not given). QAR can be used with almost any text and teaches students to differentiate between facts given in the text and answers the learners found on their own.
Students are given several questions and are asked to indicate how much they agree or disagree with a statement based on the text by using a continuous line or a Likert scale. Learners then defend their positions; they can also engage in dialogues (Gunnlaugson & Moore, 2009). This strategy can be used with most of the texts.
Very important points
Students, who were asked to mark key points while reading, discuss these key points after finishing the text. They defend their perceptions of why these points are paramount. This can be used with almost any text and teaches students to differentiate between key points and details.
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If students generated pre-questions (see above), they may be asked to answer these questions based on the text. The strategy can be used with any text to which pre-questions were asked.
Purposefully dedicate time to vocabulary learning
Vocabulary instruction should be a distinct, clear part of a lesson, for new lexis is a necessary part of students’ learning, and it is what allows them to become independent readers (Beers, 2001). Approximately 10-15 minutes of each lesson are recommended to be dedicated to learning vocabulary (Robb, 2014), in particular, is a social studies classroom.
New words should be taught to learners before reading. The words should be listed, and their definitions should be provided. The relationships between words can be shown, as well as their connections to some already known words. This strategy should be used with any text containing new vocabulary.
Discussing new words and drawing “maps.”
Students discuss the new words before reading and also draw maps, charts, Venn diagrams, etc. This allows for better relating the new words to one another (Allen, 2006).
Writing paragraphs or short essays with key terms
This should be done after the reading is complete. Students should be encouraged to use as many new words in their paragraphs or essays as reasonably possible. This can be used in most social studies classrooms.
Reviewing the terms
Students review the terms they learned during a class in the following classes. This may be done by employing various techniques, such as the ones described above, as well as by giving texts where the learned terms would be used. It should be done in any class where students are to remember new terms, for they will forget most of the new terms without revision.
Allen, J. (2006). Too little or too much? What do we know about making vocabulary instruction meaningful? Voices from the Middle, 13(4), 16-19.
Beers, K. (2001). When readers struggle. Voices from the Middle, 8(4), 4-5.
Gunnlaugson, O., & Moore, J. (2009). Dialogue education in the post‐secondary classroom: Reflecting on dialogue processes from two higher education settings in North America. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 33(2), 171-181. Web.
Robb, L. (2014). Vocabulary is comprehension: Getting to the root of text complexity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Sporer, N., Brunstein, J. C., & Kieschke, U. (2009). Improving students’ reading comprehension skills: Effects of strategy instruction and reciprocal teaching. Learning and Instruction, 19, 272-286. Web.
Yang, Y.-T. C., Newby, T. J., & Bill, R. L. (2005). Using Socratic questioning to promote critical thinking skills through asynchronous discussion forums in distance learning environments. The American Journal of Distance Education, 19(3), 163-181. Web.