Reading Difficult Texts

Strategies for helping students read difficult texts as presented in Engaging Ideas by John Bean

1. Explain to students how your own reading process varies with your purpose.  When do you skim?  When do your read slowly?  When do you take notes? When do you write in the margins?

2. Show students your own note-taking and responding processes.

3. Help students get into the habit of looking up words they don’t know.

4. Teach students to write a summary of a paragraphs content and a description of the paragraphs purpose or function in the essay.

5. Give students tests or quizzes or writing assignments based on material not covered in class.

6. Show that all texts can be interrogated and analyzed.  Show students that all texts are filtered through someones point of view and help the students be alert to the persuasive nature of texts.  Have the students both “believe” and “doubt” the text to open up perspective.

7. Help students understand Cultural codes and the knowledge the author may assume they have.

8. Create ‘reading guides’ for difficult texts.  Reading guides define terms, fill in cultural knowledge, explain the rhetorical context and ask critical questions that the student can consider when they read.

9. Help the students use and understand the importance of marginal notes.

10.  Have the students take reading notes based on summary/response techniques or reading journals or logs.

11. Have students develop their own quizzes.

12. Have students re-write a passage in their own words.

( Bean 137-146)

Works Cited

Bean, John C. Engaging Ideas. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2001.

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