Monday, August 3, 2015

Teaching Students A Process of Reading for Content

Information is fast paced and students have learned to adapt to that information. Their brains love sound bites and spending time reading entire chapters can seem tedious and boring. Its like taking a race car and trying to slow it down to a horse and buggy world. It may not be that students have lost the capacity to focus on reading but that many of them don't know how.

In order to stay focused it is necessary to get lost in the moment. Without doing this it is likely that most of the information will not be retained. Reading for content requires a higher degree of focus then say reading for pleasure. A lot of students likely don't like the reading because it requires energy and commitment in a world of distraction.

We know this because a huge percentage of class fails to read the chapters but still tries to muddle through their papers, quizzes and tests. You can tell they didn't read because the depth of their discussion is shallow and they leave open ended questions throughout their papers. The papers seem to be based more on personal experience and anecdotal information than anything substantive.

Getting the Basic Picture

Reading for content requires slowing down and creating redundancy in the reading. Before one read a class book it is beneficial to look at the table of contents and then the headings to create context. This will help the student understand the purpose of the chapter. Then skimming the chapters will help fill in a few blanks and set the student up for a deeper reading.

Reading for Content

Reading for content requires the ability to slow down, think about the main point of each paragaph, and then using a highlighter to mark the key concepts. As many books are in PDF, or electronic format, it is possible to use the virtual highlighter method. If there is anything you don't understand you can look it up or write down the question for your professor.

Reviewing for Tests and Papers

Because you were proactive and followed all the steps you have highlighted the most important arguments. Before you take a test or write a paper you will want to review those highlights and read the summary of each chapter.

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