The best way to improve reading skills is by teaching reading skills and giving students a chance to practice them. These lessons facilitate the practice of clarifying.
How do I know I need to teach strategies for clarifying as part of my improve reading skills by teaching reading skills lessons? Because when I write an assignment's due date on the board 13 days before it's due, I still get looks of stunned amazement when I collect it. The 47 times I had to explain what a thesis statement and a topic sentence is also revealed the need to teach strategies for clarifying as part of my improve reading skills by teaching reading skills lesson plans.
If you've had similar experiences, take heart. I have the solution, and that solution is improve reading skills by teaching reading skills.
Apply the following clarifying strategies to improve reading skills with fiction:
Ask Questions: Begin with the five W's--who, what, when, where, why. It is critical to ask questions that force the reader to read between the lines. Question character motivation, feelings, emotions. Look for cause and effect relationships with plot. Focus on how the setting affects the mood, the characters, and the conflict. Analyze theme--the overall meaning of the work.
- Visualize: Skilled writers choose to use description for a specific purpose. Imagine what characters look like. How do they walk? What does the setting look like. Pay attention to details.
- Examine Conflict: Conflict is central to plot. Evaluate how the conflict changes. What are possible solutions? What are the complications? What character flaws have led to the conflict?
- State the Theme: Once you finish reading, state the main idea of the literary work. The theme is usually not stated directly. Look for thematic clues in the title.
Minilesson: Use a chart to keep track of story elements. In one column, write the words setting, characters, major events, conflict, mood, tone, resolution, theme. In the other column, jot down notes about each element.
Because most of what students will read in their life is non-fiction, teaching reading skills with non-fiction is essential. Apply the following clarifying strategies for non fiction.
Skim: With non-fiction, clarifying begins before the reading does, especially with text books. Look at headers, emboldened type, sub-headings, sidebars, and charts. Get a feel for what the chapter or article is about. Often a summary is included at the end and a preview at the beginning.
- Summarize Main Ideas: Don't wait until the end to realize you have no idea what you've just read. Summarize as you go. Clarify main ideas and judge the writer's effectiveness.
- Identify Purpose: Is the writer trying to entertain, persuade, or inform? The writer's purpose is a key element to understanding his or her theme.
- Distinguish Fact From Opinion: Skilled writers cloak their opinions as fact. Skilled readers uncloak them. Examine how the writer supports assumptions. Are the sources credible or biased? Is there an attempt to manipulate?
Minilesson: Preview a selection by writing 10 statements on the board. Instruct students to copy down the statements and write whether it's a fact or an opinion. Discuss the answers. For opinion statements, instruct students to write down supporting facts the author gives.
Poetry is difficult for many. These clarifying strategies for poetry will improve reading skills:
Visualize: Poetry relies heavily on figurative language, symbols, and imagery. Skilled readers analyze why poet's use particular images and symbols.
- Make Connections: Access prior knowledge and connect what you already know to what you are reading.
- Read: Read the poem several times. Read the poem aloud. Paraphrase complex language. Find the meaning of difficult words.
Minilesson: Annotate. Annotate. Annotate.