What are the habits and strategies that can help students to develop their reading skills? Here are a dozen pre-reading, during reading and post reading strategies to support the readers in your classroom.
Before Reading Strategies
Anticipation Guides – These are brief sets of questions for generating conversation around the big issues or controversies inherent in the reading to be assigned. The questions do not have one correct answer, so as to surface multiple points of view or aspects of a problem. Anticipation guides involve students in thought and discussion on important issues and create powerful purposes for reading.
Anticipation Guides can be in the form of a questionnaire, survey, four corners statements, or what side do you stand on. The Four Corners strategy is an approach that asks students to make a decision about a problem or question. Each of the four corners of the classroom is labelled with a different response (strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree). Students move to the corner that best aligns with their thinking.
KWL+ Charts – What I Know, What I Want to Know, and What I learned is a good way to find out what students already know about the topic. These charts help students think about what they already know about a topic before reading and then connect new information with what they already know.
Word Splash – Make a list of key vocabulary and concepts associated with the content or text. The terms can be new words or commonly known words. “Splash” these words across a sheet of paper or use an online word cloud generator like Word Art. Then, ask the students to put the words in logical order or draw connections about the words. Once groups finish, ask them to share their thinking. After all students have shared, ask students to predict what they are going to study and what they will be looking for as they read or learn.
During Reading Strategies
Post Its – As students are reading they track thinking on post it notes at important parts the text where there is key moments or raises questions. Notes are for ideas as well as evidence. When students are reading for academic purposes, it is necessary for students to record thinking so it can be remembered and reused.
Coding & Annotating the Text – Coding the text helps readers to monitor their comprehension and remember what was read. Students can make up their own coding system. Recording thinking while reading helps a reader remember what s/he read. It also provides an opportunity for the reader to wrestle with meaning.
Asking Questions – Asking questions about what you are reading allows you to think more deeply and better understand what you are reading. Good readers ask questions before, during, and after reading to clarify ambiguity and deepen understanding.
Making Connections – If a student can make a connection it can trigger more interest in the reading topic. Stephanie Harvey (1998) writes, “Proficient readers connect what they read to their own lives and this type of reading promotes engagement and enhances understanding. Students can make text to text connections, text to world connections and text to self connections.
When teachers provide explicit modeling of thinking processes they identify the habits utilized to make sense of the of the text.
Tableaus is perfect for kinesthetic learners. To set up the tableaus, have students create frozen scenes from significant events in a text. In a a corner of the classroom where other classmates cannot see or hear what they are doing, allow students in 3-4 minutes to formulate their scene or frozen picture. Once the model group is ready to present, ask students to put their heads down. Count to five aloud while the group is forming its scene. When you get to “one” the group is in position, and invite students in the audience to take a look at the frozen scene. The teacher can call on students from the class to identify the scene and its significance to the text.
Sketch to Stretch allows students to individually sketch a picture that represents their understanding of the key concepts, facts, and ideas.
Graphic Organizers like Venn Diagrams, Frayer Models, Episode Patterns, and Chronological Sequence can help convey large chunks of information concisely. These organizers or mind maps allow students to organize a large body of information sequentially or draw connections to represent key information.
10 Word Summary is an activity that I adapted from Kelly Gallagher. You can select any number of words but the idea is that students only have a certain number of words to summarize in their own words. Then, using individual summaries, students can generate a whole-class summary on the board in 10 or fewer words. Summary writing is another way for students to put concepts from the reading into their own words.
Quiz making is another student activity that can show their comprehension in the after-reading stage. Quiz making encourages students to think like the teacher and, at the same time, consider what concepts in the reading are key: “If you were the teacher and you wanted to test your students on this text, what would you ask?” This activity can be done as an individual assignment or in collaborative groups or pairs. Students can be encouraged to create a variety of question types.