If you’re looking to equip your students with a set of reading strategies that will teach them to take charge of their reading experience and approach texts with a purpose in mind, you might find Dorothy Grant Hennings’s three-step reading strategy useful. While this strategy will be especially useful for secondary students who are preparing for college, Hennings’s Getting-Ready-to-Read Strategy can certainly be adapted for use with younger readers.
The Getting-Ready-to-Read Strategy: A 3-Step Guide for Reading Teachers
Step 1: Preview before reading
The first step in reading is to preview the selection you are going to read. Why? So that you can find your bearings and gain a general sense of what the selection is about before diving straight in.
There are a few questions you should keep in mind as you preview a selection:
- What is the topic of this selection? In other words, what is this selection about?
- How has the author organized his or her ideas on the topic?
To answer these two questions, read and think about:
- The title. Titles often contain clues about the topic
- The author. Generally speaking, authors stick to one area—fiction, history, biology, etc.—and if you know something about the author, you can find more clues about the topic
- The headings. Is the text divided into sections by headings? If so, you may find more clues about subtopics and learn more about how the text has been organized
- Terms that are repeated at the beginnings of paragraphs or words that are italicized or bolded. Words that are italicized, bolded, or repeated are important to the author. Pay attention to them!
- The introductory and concluding paragraphs. These paragraphs will tell you more about what the selection is going to be about and what the author thinks about the topic.
- The illustrations. Do you see any photos, graphs, maps, drawings? These may help you figure out the major focus of a selection
- The margin notes or footnotes. These sections often contain definitions of key terms, which give you clues about what the selection is about
Step 2: Think about what you already know
Now that you’ve previewed the text and gathered clues, ask yourself, “What do I already know about this topic?” To answer this question, visualize, or picture, things that are discussed in the selection and connect them to things you already know something about. It may be helpful to jot down words or sketch out images that come to your mind about the topic.
Step 3: Setting your purpose for reading
Are you reading for pleasure? Are you reading for a particular course? Before diving into the selection, think about what you expect to learn from reading this piece. If you’re reading for pleasure, you probably already know what you hope to get from the text before reading. But if you’re working with an assigned reading, it’s likely that the instructor expects you to use these texts to learn more about a subject to prepare for a test.
Photo credit: RLHyde / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)