We know that skilled readers interact with their text. They actively navigate their readings to make it more interesting and it’s been proven to help with the comprehension of the text.
Yes, your students have to read. However, as a teacher, the anxiety and stress that comes from prepping a lesson where you know students will push back, not pay attention, try to catch some Z’s, or not participate is real!
On the other hand, you may have the eager classes or students who want to read ALL the time, bumble over words, misunderstand their readings, highlight everything as a means of annotation, etc.
Active reading strategies are the mental processes that highly effective readers use when approaching
reading. These reading strategies require a reader to read critically by focusing on the material to
understand and actively engage with the material by being aware of one’s own thought process when
As teachers, we’ve all been there – dealing with student readers who either don’t want to read outloud, are easily distracted, or take a longer period of time to read and comprehend text.
I have a resolve for you; check out the following 5 Amazing Active Reading Strategies that will keep your students engaged and involved in your AMZAING lesson!
1. Adjusting Reading Rates –
Readers use a constant rate for most materials they read but learn to use different speeds based on the types of tasks and their purpose for reading (e.g. slowing down to comprehend new information, or speeding up to scan for key words.) Students sometimes speed through their reading when they’re nervous or hope to just get it over with.
However, the rate of their readings need to change, depending on the purpose.
If students are reading for exams, locating textual evidence for answers, or identifying keywords in text, their speeds may need to be faster than a regular class or personal reading for enjoyment. By the same token, if students are reading for comprehension (their first reading of a text), then they must slow down to make sure they comprehend a text.
Remind them of their purpose for reading, so they can adjust their speeds accordingly.
2. Chunking –
To CHUNK is to not bite off too much at once. Breaking information down in small sections allows the reader to comprehend and retain information more easily. This learning strategy makes it easier for students to keep information in their short term memory and has been shown to improve students reading comprehension and fluency.
I normally have COMPREHENSION CHECKS as we read a text as a class. After sections or pages, we’d stop and I’d question what the students understand and where they think the story or text is going? What things will change for a character? and more critical thinking questions.
3. Consulting a Reference –
Students use a dictionary, thesaurus, reference chart or glossary to help find word meanings/pronunciations or background information.
In my class, I allow students to use their handbooks, phone dictionary apps, other texts, previous notes, even each other to help to arrive at answers and comprehend text. This develops their reading skills, research skills, investigative skills, and critical reading skills.
4. Graphic Organizers –
Students use a visual or graphic organizer to construct meaning. These organizers help readers visualize how ideas fit together and help identify strengths and weakness of thought processes. Outlines and concept maps are two ways to organize textual information.
If they’re not filling out a chart, they are isolating parts of the text to make the whole clearer. For example. students will break down literary or rhetorical devices, motifs, style and structure, symbols and more in order to comprehend a text. [See LITERARY ANALYSIS & PARTICIPATION CHART]
5. Identifying Social Commentary or The Human Condition –
When students can read a text and are given time to identify just how the text relates to them, it allows for engagement. If students can see themselves, their families, their communities in their readings, especially archaic texts, then it allows them to connect with the reading.
The reading of texts in school is for students to relate to it, in order to understand it. So, a connection to the human condition – how does this work reflect humanity – is a good thing.
Hearing students discuss Victorian poetry and relate it to their lives today is a very sweet thing.
Let students move around, stop around, and interact with their reading. This process may take some training, but it is worth it. Students want to participate more because they see and feel themselves learning and understanding their readings. Try these out and let me know which ones you like for your classroom readings.