What We Learned in Part 1
In What Effective Readers Do When Reading (Part 1), we outlined what effective readers do differently when reading that separates them from poor readers.
In Part 1, we discussed how proficient readers use their background knowledge to help them connect to what they are reading.
We also discussed how strong readers use visualization strategies to help them understand what they are reading and picture in their mind how the story action is unfolding. They also visualize what the characters look like and how they feel as the story progresses.
In nonfiction, they may visualize processes or relationships between concepts.
Effective readers prioritize the importance of the ideas they are reading in the text. In order to summarize a text or make inferences about what they have read, students must first be able to determine what information is important in the text. They must be able to distinguish between important information and information that may be interesting but not essential for understanding of the concept.
In this post, we will continue to examine what research says about what makes the difference between good readers and poor readers.
Effective Readers Summarize Information
Effective readers have a deep and insightful understanding of the text that they are reading.
When they finish reading, they can synthesize or summarize what they have read into the key points. They can retell these main ideas to others in a logical and sequential manner. Good readers are able to retell the gist of a story they have read. They can also place the important events of the story into a proper sequence.
Proficient readers can talk about the text, construct thoughts or ideas about the content and mesh what they have learned with their own previous learning on the topic.
You can help your students improve their skill in summarizing information by asking students to stop and summarize what they are reading – either orally or in writing – at strategic points in the text. Ask, “Who can summarize what we have read in this part of the (novel, chapter, article, etc.)?” Once a student has provided information, ask other class members if they can add anything more to the summary.
Practicing these skills orally or in writing will increase student skills in summarizing.
Summarizing text helps students identify the important ideas from a text while discarding unimportant ideas. Summarizing key points helps students improve their memory about what they have read. It also helps them retain information longer and understand what they have read more deeply.
Strong, Effective Readers Synthesize What They Read
When students synthesize information, they use their background knowledge and their new learning from the text.
They develop insights about the text and form ideas and opinions of their own. When readers synthesize a text, they bring their own thoughts, ideas, experiences, and background knowledge to their reading. They make connections to “go beyond” the surface ideas presented in the text. Effective readers use their insights and analysis to explain how their thinking has grown or changed over time.
Ask students to talk about what they thought about the topic or information.
Ask them to think about how their thinking has changed or evolved as they read more information on the same topic. Use metacognitive strategies to help students answer questions like: “I used to think…… but now I think…..” to deepen their abilities to synthesize information. When students find conflicting information, ask them to consider the reliability of the information they have found – especially online – and to verify the facts with additional reliable sources.
Effective readers reflect on what they have read.
They talk to others to clarify their questions or confusions and sort out key information to add to their own storehouse of knowledge. They mesh new knowledge with existing knowledge to build a solid set of beliefs and understandings about various topics. Effective readers are able to summarize and synthesize information from multiple sources to form deeper levels of understanding about a topic.
Proficient Readers Have Expansive Vocabulary Knowledge
Proficient readers have an expansive vocabulary they can use to talk about text.
They can make comparisons between topics and characters because they have a good storehouse of adjectives to use when describing these elements. Students reflect on word meaning and seek to understand the nuances between different words. They notice words they hear and words they come across in their reading and add them to their word storehouses.
Help your students expand their vocabulary storehouse by teaching words in categories and helping them learn the multiple meaning of words.
Students can also expand their word knowledge by playing word games – both online and off line – that make vocabulary learning fun and engaging.
Identify the important prefixes, suffixes and root words that unlock meaning in your content area. Systematically teach these important affixes to your students as they connect to your content. By breaking apart unknown words into its word parts, the meaning of many more words can be unlocked.