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Lesson #13 - More Effective Active Reading Skills

You have studied outlining and summarizing, two skills to make your reading Active. In this lesson you will learn two more active reading skills: elaboration and rereading.

Q: Why do you need more skills?

The more reading skills you use, the better you will read and understand. More skills give you ways to change how you read if you do not understand.

Elaboration and rereading are known to be good ways to improve understanding. So, they are good skills to know and to use.

Q: What is elaboration?

Elaboration is when you think about what you read in different ways. It is a skill to improve both your understanding and your memory for textbook reading. Here are three ways to use elaboration.

  1. Think about what you read:  After you have read systematically, think about the main ideas. You can do this while you are riding on a bus or in a car, going to school, walking or running, or sitting and relaxing.

    Ask yourself questions about the main ideas and main points the author made. Decide if you agree with the author and why. Try to make up a more persuasive argument for a position.

    You can also see if you can find ways to apply the material to events, people or things in your life. In general, the more you think about what you read, the better you will understand.

  2. Talk with others:  Ask others what they think about the material you read. You can talk to your parents, your friends, and your teachers. Talk about the author's point of view, your opinion, and why you agree or disagree with the author.

    Ask others any questions you have about what you have read. These can be questions that occurred to you as you read actively (e.g. stop and think), or questions that occurred to you as you made notes.

  3. Personal teaching:  This skill involves pretending you are teaching the material. As a teacher, what would you say or do to help others understand? Do this by imagining you are standing in front of a class and teaching them. Try to imagine that your "students" have trouble learning and that you must provide extra explanations, examples, and applications to help them understand.
Q: What is rereading?

Rereading is reading again material you have read before. Rereading is used by all successful students, particularly when they do not understand something the first time they read it. Most successful students will read and reread textbooks several times.

To reread you look back and carefully and actively read material you haven't understood. Two things are important when you reread.

First, it is important to recognize when to reread. The main time to reread is when you do not understand. If you feel confused, have many questions, read something that does not make sense, or don't think you have understood the main point, then you should reread. Even if you think you did understand, you can usually learn more by rereading.

Second, it is important to read actively and carefully when you reread. The point of rereading is to learn more; so, you must look for questions you can answer, main points, and details as you read the second or third time.

Q: Why is it necessary to reread?

The point of studying a textbook or notes is to learn. Many textbooks are very complex because the subjects are difficult. There is no way most authors can make difficult material like history, science, math, and literature easy. Therefore, it is often necessary to reread to fully understand. Most very good students will read their texts at least twice. Many times, reading something a second or third time will make the text easy.

You can reread several times. Rereading is a good choice anytime you don't understand. So you can reread two, three, four, or five times. But, be sure to read actively and set study goals. If you do reread several times and still do not understand, then ask your teacher for help.

Q: How can you get started?

For two of your text reading assignments use elaboration. Answer questions about the material and how you can relate it to your current interests (e.g. history to a school election or algebra to making choices about missing information). You can use Form 13.1 if you wish.

For at least two reading assignments, reread. Do this even if you feel you understand. Try to learn more the second time you read. You can use Form 13.2 to help you.

Lesson #14
Lesson #12

ECC [] ©Copyright 1991, Thomas M. Sherman. Further distribution without the written consent of, Inc. is prohibited.


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