Reflecting on How We Ask Students to Read

Recent consultations on lesson planning have encouraged me to reflect on all the ways we can use texts in the classroom. I’ve written in the past on ways to read with students, from silent reading to choral reading. I’ve also suggested activities to help teach text organization and suprasegmentals.

I’d like to offer some additional ideas to maximize the teaching potential of texts brought into the classroom.

  • To teach vocabulary. Underline 5-6 target words in the text. Write synonyms or antonyms on the board and have students match the underlined words to the ones listed on the board. Recycle these words in your discussion of the text and in a related communicative activity.
  • To focus on meaning and sentence structure. Similar to the previous idea. Underline 3-4 sentences in the text. Write paraphrases on the board and have students match them to the underlined sentences. Discuss the alternative words and grammatical structures. This task could lead into a grammar presentation. For example, you can show how full adjective or adverb clauses become reduced or how an infinitive of purpose can have the equivalent meaning of a conditional.
  • To focus on purpose. Place the students in pairs. Number each paragraph. Write the numbers on slips of paper, shuffle the slips, and give a random number to each pair. Students will work with their partners to craft one question that targets the purpose of their paragraph. These questions will be read aloud, and the class will identify the corresponding paragraphs. Offer prompts for question formation: Which paragraph discusses ___? Which paragraph explains ___? In which paragraph does the author ___? Which paragraph presents ___?

Related posts include:

  • Mix and Match – An activity that practices skimming and helps students focus on the writer’s purpose.
  • Many Magazine, Many Benefits – An activity that exposes students to popular magazines and teaches a set of skills: reading (scanning, skimming); academic skills/ critical-thinking skills (making predictions, making inferences).

4 Comments Add yours

  1. 77ruby77 says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    This is a great post and I really appreciate all of the detail you put into all of your other posts as well. I think you offer some really helpful suggestions for someone like me who is a future English teacher. I love the idea of underlining sentences from the text we may be reading and paraphrasing it or putting variations of the same sentence on the board and asking students to identify which ones match up. This is a great way for students to not only recognize the language but also to learn different ways of saying the same thing, which is such a staple in the English language.

    Thanks again for your post!

    1. Thank you very much for the words of support. I’m happy to know you’ll be able to apply some of my suggestions in your own teaching.
      Good luck to you!
      – Jennifer

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