Essential Questions for Reading

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

The importance of strong reading skills can't be overestimated. This lesson provides teachers with essential questions that need to be considered when helping students develop reading skills.

Essential Questions for Reading

As students learn to read they open themselves up to new worlds and ideas in ways that can be either mundane or spectacular. Reading is such an essential skill that it's incorporated into nearly every aspect of academic life. When students read it's important that they acknowledge certain aspects of the text, and as a teacher, you can help them to effectively recognize these components.

First of all, students should be aware that effective reading is a process that takes place before, during, and after the actual reading. The following guidelines are intended to help you guide your learners through these stages.

It's important to note that these questions aren't meant to cover comprehension of a passage. Rather, their purpose is to put the reader in a critical mindset and encourage a comprehensive approach toward reading new material. Essentially, students need to understand why they're reading, what they're reading, and how they're supposed to use the information they gain.

Before - Why Am I Reading This?

Before reading begins, students need to set the scene and reflect.

  • Am I in a distraction-free environment?
  • Do I have all of the tools I need to read effectively (notepaper, highlighters, glasses, etc.)?
  • Why am I reading this passage?
  • What information am I looking for?
  • How do I intend to use this information?

During - What Am I Reading?

If possible, students should highlight key information and take notes on important elements within a passage.

  • Am I keeping track of the people, places, events, and/or ideas contained in the passage?
  • Am I looking up words I don't understand?
  • Am I rereading confusing or complex sentences until I fully understand them?
  • What is the author's style and tone?
  • What information do I need to retain and what information can I ignore?

After - What Have I Learned and Why Does It Matter?

Being able to reflect on the content of a passage after reading can be invaluable.

  • Did I find the information I was looking for?
  • What new information did I learn?
  • Could I verbally summarize this passage to a classmate or teacher?
  • How does this passage connect to others I have read?
  • If I reread the passage, am I likely to find valuable information I missed the first time?

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