Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

July 12, 2011

Nine Textbook Reading Strategies That Will Engage Your Students

If you use one of the Ave Maria Press Teacher Wraparaound Editions, you'll notice that most of the time we suggest that teachers assign reading for class as homework to free up valuable class time. The problem, as most teachers know, is that it is a challenge to get the kids to actually do the reading. This list of textbook reading strategies should go a long way in helping students read and comprehend their textbooks. The strategies should give students concrete ways in which they can engage with the textbook.

Textbook Reading Strategies

1. Pre-assessment

Before you assign the reading, have students take a quick quiz or complete a writing prompt that takes a pre-assessment of their understanding of the material. Not only will it allow you to get a handle on what you will need to teach when you cover the reading, it will give students a context for the reading ahead of time. As a follow-up assignment. Give the pre-assessment to them as bell work the next class session and have them correct their mistakes.

2. Pre-reading: Skim the Reading Assignment

All to often we tend to just start reading without any idea where the text is going. Encourage students to skim the headings and sub-headings of a reading assignment before they read. This will give them a context for the reading itself.

3. Pre-reading: Examine the Pictures

Ave Maria Press textbooks have engaging and symbolic pictures that connect to the text. Have students examine the pictures in the text and form predictions about what they are going to read.

4. Pre-reading: Predictions and Questions

In addition to skimming and examining the pictures of the text, have the students go a step further and write out predictions or questions about what they think the text is about. After they complete the reading assignment, have them critique their predictions or answer their questions.

5. Outline the Reading Assignment

One of the best ways to take notes on a reading assignment is to outline it. Have the students start by copying the headings and sub-headings or paraphrasing them on a sheet of paper or word processing document. While they read, they should jot down the key points made in each section. Encourage students to have 2+ details under each sub-heading.

6. Summarize each Heading or Section

In addition to just completing the reading, have the students write a 1-2 sentence summary of each section of the reading assignment. Point out what specific headings from the textbook you want them to summarize to avoid confusion.

7. Highlight or Underline the Key Points

One of the many reading skills that need real development is highlighting and underlining. Beginners tend to highlight everything to the point that a page is bleeding to death in yellow, pink, and green ink. Don't let your students do this. Highlight parts of the text that you want to come back to later. If something is important, you should highlight the key phrases that illustrate the whole point. The more particular you about what you highlight, the more important you will view the highlighted text when you review the textbook.

8. Complete a Directed Reading Guide

Some of the most popular classroom resources we share with Ave Maria Press textbooks are the Directed Reading Guides. These worksheets are filled with questions, fill-in-the-blank statements, True or False statements, and essay prompts that relate directly to the reading. Either use these worksheets or create your own so students can engage in the text.

9. Re-read the Textbook Reading Assignment

When they finish the reading assignment, challenge them to spend an additional 2-3 minutes (that's it!) on re-reading the most important sections of the assignment. This re-reading should be more like skimming since the text will still be very familiar and fresh in their minds. This is one of the best ways to increase comprehension and it only takes a few minutes.

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