Reading Skills: Strategies for Following Directions

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  • 0:04 Following Directions
  • 0:46 Active Reading & Skimming
  • 1:20 Text Features & Reading Twice
  • 2:07 Specific Words
  • 3:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Catherine Rose

Catherine taught middle and high school English and has a master's degree in Education.

From following a recipe to assembling furniture, following directions is an important reading skill to master. In this lesson, we'll explore the various strategies used when reading and following directions.

Following Directions

You are excited to finally have that new bookcase for all of your favorite titles. When it is delivered, however, all you receive is a big box. You open the box and see stacks of boards, a bag of nails and screws, and a booklet with a picture of your bookcase on the front. Now, you must follow the directions to assemble this treasure.

Following directions is an important reading skill because assembling items, cooking, going on a journey, and many other tasks require that you follow steps exactly to achieve the desired result. Making one mistake could lead to disastrous consequences. How do you avoid such a dilemma and ensure that you are doing your best to follow directions correctly?

Let's explore some strategies for reading and following directions.

Active Reading & Skimming

When encountering directions, follow these steps:

1. Practice Active Reading

When reading directions, it is often helpful to practice active reading strategies. Highlighting key information, underlining important words or phrases, and even using post-it notes to indicate important sections can help maintain your focus and remind you of what's essential in the directions.

2. Preview or Skim the Document

Previewing the document means you're quickly reading, or skimming, over the information, to get an overview of what you will be doing. By doing this, you are preparing yourself for the various steps as well as the final outcome.

Text Features & Reading Twice

3. Text Features and Tools

Pay attention to any text features, such as bold-faced words, words in all capital letters, italicized words, numbered items, headings, and underlined words or phrases. These text features indicate important words or phrases. By paying attention to these text features, you'll have a better idea of what to expect later. Also, key words and phrases will highlight those items that may be necessary later on.

Be aware of any tools you may need to complete the task. Being prepared with the proper tools reduces the possibility of frustration later.

4. Check it Twice

When reading directions, it's always best to read the steps twice. The first read provides you with an overview of the steps in the process. The second read will solidify the instructions in your mind and make them clearer.

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