March is National Reading Month, and with the new cross-curricular importance that the Common Core standards have placed on reading skills, we thought this would be a great opportunity to help teachers integrate more fun, engaging reading strategies into their curriculum, no matter what subject area they teach.
Pre-reading Scavenger Hunt
Pre-reading is an important skill for students to master whenever they encounter a text. They need to learn there is nothing wrong with engaging with a text before actually “reading” it, using features like the Table of Contents and chapter headings. It helps with comprehension.
Before they start to read a new chapter or book, have them go on a scavenger hunt through the text, finding things like headings, graphics, and page numbers. Then, when it’s time to read, they are much more liable to find the information they need for mastery of the subject at hand.
Graphical Word Wall
By now, plenty of teachers recognize the importance of word walls for vocabulary acquisition. Some districts are even specifically looking for them during walkthroughs and appraisals. And while even just posting a word on the wall can help students acquire it, let’s try to activate a deeper level of understanding.
Instead of posting just the word, have the students draw a picture depicting the word. For some words, coming up with a picture will be easy. Nouns are particularly simple. Certain verbs and especially adjectives, however, can be challenging. Coming up with the picture adds another level of challenge and a deeper understanding.
An anticipation guide helps getting students thinking about an upcoming text. Come up with a list of broad questions around the theme of the text. For example, a potential question on a section about nuclear energy might be “Is nuclear energy a solution to the world’s energy problems, even with the inherent danger and waste disposal issues of creating the energy?” Before they read, students mark whether they agree or disagree. Then, once the text has been read, poll the students again to see if their minds have changed.
Separating Important Information from the Background
All text contains information that is important for the student to know and some information that just gives background or more depth to the writing. A key reading skill is figuring out which is which.
In any reading, in any setting (out loud, silently, whole class, etc.), students should actively seek out important sentences and phrases from a text. A great exercise to teach this skill is to have students go paragraph-by-paragraph, ranking the sentences or phrases from most important to least.