There are wonderful little stickies available for students to
stick in their texts. Depending on the stickies, students could
make brief notes or use a color coded system to identify important
sections. This is a tool you may want to model for students.
Any way a teacher can encourage students to question while they
read will enhance comprehension. Verbally or in writing, questions
force students to interact with the text. The following web
sites offer insight into types of questions to spur thinking:
Paraphrasing is something many teachers assume their students
can do, without modeling or giving samples. Here are some ways
to get them to be better at “putting it in their own words”:
• The first few times you ask students to paraphrase something
try modeling for them. How would you do it? Read a passage aloud
and then think out loud so they can “see” your thought
• Ask students to paraphrase a section and collect their
writing. Share the best examples with the class.
• Explain why it is important to be able to put things
in their own words (teachers often use other
wording on tests).
• When you can tell it to someone else you really “know”
• Students tend to understand better when they paraphrase
Whenever teachers use supplemental materials that can be written
on, it is valuable to take a little time to discuss the most
effective way to read them. Oftentimes, this means highlighting
important points. Initially students tend to over-highlight.
Once again, modeling is very powerful. Begin reading the material
together and show students where and why you would highlight.
Talk over your thinking process. Make highlighting part of an
assignment. Be specific about what students are to highlight.
is the traditional “fill in the blank” worksheet.
However, check it out. Can you fill in the worksheet without
really understanding the material? Students are experienced
with many publisher-made worksheets and can fill them in without
reading or understanding. Sometimes it is worth the effort to
create your own, interspersing application or evaluation questions
to encourage students to interact with the text.
need this technique modeled. Many teachers assume that high
school students know how to take notes from textbook. However,
each text, class and instructor are different. Reading a section
together and modeling note taking while commenting on why you
took those particular notes is beneficial. You may want to consider
using text notes as an evaluative tool as well.
Notes are a terrific way to teach students to create organized
notes that can be used as a study tool later. This type of note
taking can be used both when reading textbooks and when taking
notes from a lecture on any subject.
Students create Two-Column Notes by folding each piece of notebook
paper so the right edge is lined up with the left lined margin.
This leaves a smaller side on the left and more room for notes
and sketches on the right.
Key ideas are written on the left of the margin with explanations
written on the right.
Once the notes have been written, students can fold the right
side of the paper back over to the left margin, leaving only
the key words on the left exposed. Students can then study for
tests alone, defining the terms and then lifting the right side
of the page to check their answers.
Hints for Two-Column Notes
• Include the title and the date
• List main ideas, topics, and key words on the left
• List information and/or subtopics on the right
• Indent subtopics and leave plenty of extra space
• Use only words and phrases, or pictures and diagrams
• Use abbreviations when appropriate
• Make notes neat and complete
a great in-class reading strategy. The teacher assigns a section
of the text to be read. After a period of time the teacher says,
“Stop. Write.” The students close their books and
write what they remember about what they just read. This can
be repeated. It is valuable to pick up the papers and see what
your students are thinking and gleaning from what they read.
This strategy can also demonstrate the power of re-reading by
having the students read the same information a second time,
and then adding new learnings to their list.