Many times students read just to get the reading done. Though we want students to be quick, fluent, skillful readers, to read with comprehension often means they must slow down so that they can really think about the text: How does this information mesh with what I already know? What information is new? How am I responding, personally, to this information? Based on what I’ve already read, what will be the focus of the next section?
Students comprehend and remember better when they are actively predicting what comes next. Listed below are some steps to help your students with such predictions.
Step 1 - Introduce the topic
Ask leading questions related to the topic at hand. Take some numbers. Take a few volunteers. Hear some responses.
Step 2 - Distribute/project one page of the text
Read aloud the first page. Then stop and allow students to write their individual responses to the prompts at the bottom of the page: What questions does the author want the reader to ask?
Step 3 - Pair share and then contribute to whole-class discussion
Circulate and eavesdrop for a minute or two, noting interesting comments that you would like pairs to share with the whole class. Call on a few pairs; encourage volunteers to share ideas/questions that have not been mentioned. Move to the next page.
Step 4 - Distribute/project subsequent pages of the text, one at a time
Pairs share and then contribute to the whole class. For each page, read it aloud, stop to allow students to individually respond in writing to the prompt, let pairs share, and then encourage a brief whole-class discussion.
Step 5 - Discuss final responses
How did their initial thoughts and predictions compare with the information gathered from the text? Have students turn to their partner and discuss for a minute and then hear their responses.
The above has been adapted from Texts and Lessons for Content-Area Writing. Click below for a free sample lesson that gives you everything you need to encourage your students to think like writers and notice how information is organized in order to raise questions and lead the reader from one point to the next. It includes the engaging reproducible text “Why Is Turnout So Low in U.S. Elections?” by Eric Black from the Minnesota Post.
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Nancy Steineke consults nationally as a keynote speaker, workshop presenter, webinar leader, and literacy coach for K–12 teachers. She specializes in content-area literacy, nonfiction writing, purposeful close reading, literature circles, and student engagement. Using her experiences teaching English, history, and vocational education, Nancy keeps the focus on research-supported manageable strategies that help teachers get the job done in ways that best benefit students. She is the author/co-author of seven professional books, her most recent being Texts and Lessons for Content-Area Writing,a collaboration with Harvey “Smokey” Daniels. Nancy is active on Twitter, posting links and ideas useful to educators as well as retweeting posts that deserve curation. Find her on Twitter: @nsteineke.
Harvey "Smokey" Daniels works with elementary and secondary teachers throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, offering demonstration lessons, workshops, and consulting, with a special focus on creating, sustaining, and renewing student-centered inquiries and discussions of all kinds. Smokey shows colleagues how to simultaneously build students' reading strategies, balance their reading diets, and strengthen the social skills they need to become genuine lifelong readers. Find him on Twitter: @smokeylit.