Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

April 22, 2013

How to Get Your Students to Actually Read Their Textbook

How do you motivate your students to read their textbooks at night? How can you be sure that students have actually read and understood it? One answer we have provided for teachers is the directed reading guides that go along with each chapter of our Ave Maria Press textbooks.

Students hate them, but teachers love them.

To complete the directed reading guides, students have to actually do the reading. They have to look closely at the text and search for specific answers and words to complete sentences. The fill-in-the-blank statements and questions guide student reading and force them to do their reading assignment and answer questions while they read. Hence, teachers love them.

Here are some examples of our directed reading guides:

Using Directed Reading Guides to Get Students to Do Their Reading

So how can you utilize these reading guides in your classroom?

Shorten by Section or Reading Assignment

Cut and paste only the sections you need. They are divided by page number and section. These assignments can take awhile to complete so don't assign them all at once. Many of the questions are very specific require thorough reading.

Customize with Your Own Questions

Add your own questions. Make sure you add your own questions when necessary. If you want students to get a specific concept from the reading, make sure you write your own question or fill-in-the-blank statements for them to complete. Just make sure the questions are added in at the right part of the reading. The reading guides are ordered to follow along with the text so new questions that are added should be included in the correct order of the text.

Save Paper!

Have students submit their work via Dropbox, Evernote, or Turnitin.com. There are so many great tools out there to allow students to submit their homework digitally and save paper. Students can access all of the directed reading guides for free here at the Ave Maria Press website. Just send them to the classroom resources page for the book you are using.

Have Students Create their Own Reading Guides

After they get used to the format, have the students create their own reading guides. Instruct them to use a format similar to the ones they have been using as homework or in-class reading. Go over the various types of fill-in statements and questions as a class then turn the students loose. Make sure you give them a minimum number of questions to include in their assignment.

When the students bring their assignment in the next day, have them work with a partner to complete each other's reading guides.

Create Quizzes

Create short quizzes based on the reading guides for bell work and a quick formative assessment. As soon as students walk in the door, have them complete the quiz. Depending on the challenge of the quiz, you may allow them to use the reading guides for help. If it is a short, multiple choice assignment, collect their reading guides while they work on the quizzes. You could use Socrative or other online quiz-makers for this kind of assessment.

Grading for Effort

Check for completion, but have students correct each other's work. Grading every one of these assignments will absolutely decimate your time as a teacher. Check for completion keeping an eye on the written sections that may reveal some plagiarism among students. These assignments can be quick, small portions of their grade as homework assignments. If you keep them to grade and correct them for too long, you will be depriving the students of their notes to study for later assessments!

Instead of Reading Guides, Use Other Note-taking Strategies

The directed reading guides are just one way to have students take notes on what they read. Mix up your reading assignments with other note-taking strategies like the Cornell Note-taking System, a Fishbone Diagram, a Venn diagram, a KWL Chart, a Mind map, or an outline.

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