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Language Arts Basics: Teaching How to Read a Textbook

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 2/7/2012

Having trouble getting students to read a textbook? Not as interesting as your regular novel, reading a textbook requires some additional skills. Teach your students how to get the information they need from their sources.

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    Language Arts Basics: Strategies for Reading a Textbook

    Reading a textbook requires using the reading process. It's not the same as reading a text message, comic book, or short story. The first step in the reading process is pre-reading, followed by reading and post reading.

    1. Browse the chapter. Look for headings, bold type, large type, drawings, and graphic organizers. These items are most important.
    2. Read the title and all subheadings. These are the chapter's main ideas and give the reader a framework for learning.
    3. If the textbook lists objectives and keywords at the beginning of the chapter, pay attention. These are key concepts.
    4. As you read, pay special attention to bold faced and underlined words. Make sure you understand the definition before moving on.
    5. Pay attention to sidebars and charts. They contain a lot of information in a little amount of space.
    6. Before reading the chapter or section, look at the questions that appear at the end.
    7. Read slowly and carefully. Take notes, if necessary.
    8. Teachers can help students take notes by providing graphic organizers.
    9. Break the reading up into 15-20 minute increments for long assignments.

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    Language Arts Basics: Procedures

    You're probably hoping for a lesson plan that amazes and creates a level of excitement for reading heretofore unknown. Sorry.

    1. Review the information on how to read a textbook with your class. Tell them to copy it down.
    2. Model the desired behavior.
    3. Assign a chapter to read.
    4. Make students document each applicable step of the reading process for textbooks.
    5. Make them do this for every chapter until an acceptable number of students read without having to do it.

    Options include having students fill out graphic organizers before or as they read: story maps, cause and effect maps, compare and contrast diagrams, venn diagrams.

How to Evaluate Information

There's more to reading for information than turning pages and nodding your head in approval. Use these tips to help students think about and analyze what they read.
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