Strategies for Developing Students' Learning & Reading Habits

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  • 0:01 Reading Habits
  • 0:44 Pre-Reading Strategies
  • 2:51 During Reading Strategies
  • 4:37 After Reading Strategies
  • 5:52 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Social Studies, and Science for seven years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

Ever finished reading and couldn't remember what you had just read? Many students experience this, too. Watch this video lesson to learn strategies to help your students develop healthy reading habits.

Reading Habits

It's not always easy to be an English language arts teacher. In most subject areas, like mathematics, there is almost always a clear answer and a clear path to get to that answer. That is not the case when teaching and learning reading. Sure, there are reading concepts all students need to recognize, like plot, setting, and characters. However, students are always on different reading levels and capabilities. As a reading teacher, you must be able to teach not only the straight-forward reading concepts, but also how to develop the proper reading habits to grow as a reader. This lesson will go over several strategies for helping your students develop healthy reading habits.

Pre-Reading Strategies

There are several activities you can do with your students to prepare for reading. These pre-reading activities are like preparing food for cooking. You can't just throw in a bunch of ingredients and expect a great meal. You must prepare the food by washing, chopping, mixing, among other things. To prepare students for reading, you can learn about the author or even the history of the time period. For example, in a reading unit on the novel A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, your students can spend a few days learning and exploring the French Revolution, since this historical event has a major impact on the novel's plot.

One other strategy to help your student prepare to read is to use an anticipation guide. An anticipation guide is a short worksheet consisting of several statements. The students then rate the statements on a scale or answer with a simple 'yes' or 'no'. For instance, one statement on an anticipation guide for A Tale of Two Cities, which has a theme of revenge, could be 'If someone hurts your family, you have a right to hurt theirs. Agree or disagree?' This will get your students thinking about revenge before seeing the theme in the novel. Afterwards, you can return these answers to your students and see if their responses have changed.

A final pre-reading method is to make a KWL chart, which can be a fun whole-class activity. Make one large poster with a chart with three columns. The first is labeled K, for what is already known about the topic. The second column is W for what you want to know, and the last is L for what has been learned. Whatever the reading topic, have a class discussion and complete the first two columns before reading the selection. Then return to complete the final column when the reading is finished.

Consistently using these pre-reading methods will help students develop the habit of thinking about the reading topics before actually beginning to read. This will help them realize how to connect the material. This is an imperative reading habit, as everyone learns more if he or she is able to relate personally to the material.

During Reading Strategies

Now that you have prepared your students for the reading, you must also help them develop habits during the actual reading. To return to our food analogy, this would be like stirring the pot while the food cooks or flipping the burgers on the grill. If you leave the food alone, it could burn and not cook properly. You must 'stir'your students while they read to promote learning.

One strategy is to use double-entry journals. This is similar to an anticipation guide, but should be used throughout the whole reading and not just before and after the novel is complete. This journal consists of a free response question before a passage and then the same question after. When reading novels, these journals are usually done before and after chapters or sections. The purpose is for students to reevaluate their responses and incorporate the reading material into their personal thoughts, which is an essential reading habit to develop.

A second strategy is a directed reading thinking activity. To use this method, you must first choose a reading passage. Then, you insert markers throughout the passage, each referring to some question on the side of the page or in the margin. As they read, students must stop when they reach a marker, think about what they have read, and answer the question. This is a great way to help students develop the habit of stopping and evaluating while they read. Many students will read without even processing the material. This activity forces them to stop and process the reading. The only downside is this might be improbable when dealing with novels or other long reading materials. Creating the questions and markers takes a lot of time and thought. It might be best to only do this on very difficult sections of the reading.

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