What is Active Reading? - Definition & Strategies

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  • 0:01 What Is Active Reading?
  • 0:26 Strategies
  • 4:52 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Marquis Grant
In this lesson, we will discuss active reading. We will learn its definition, as well as outline specific active reading strategies you can incorporate in your classroom.

What is Active Reading?

Active reading takes place when students are proactively involved in the reading of a text. Active reading is about more than reading words in black and white and answering questions afterwards. Student engagement is important in order to optimize learning, so when you, as the teacher, get your students involved in what they are reading, they are more likely to better understand the meaning within the text.


There are some common strategies that can be used to keep students engaged in the reading of the text.

Highlighting - this will only work if you demonstrate proper highlighting techniques for your students. It is a pointless strategy if you are simply handing your students a highlighter and telling them to highlight the important information as they read. If students do not understand what important information looks like, they will likely highlight everything they come across as they are reading. For example, you may want to start by having students highlight the title of the selection, letting them know that the title gives the reader clues regarding what the story will be about.

You may also want them to highlight important dates or words that are in bold or italics. This information may pop up if they have to answer questions about the reading. As students are highlighting, they will have to pay close attention to the reading, thus remaining actively involved in the process.

Read Aloud/Think Aloud - as the teacher, you will probably want to show your students how to do this, so that you can be sure that they are using the strategy correctly. It may be beneficial for you to start with a series of short passages or articles, making sure that each student has his own copy. As you read aloud the passage, you will stop periodically to ask questions related to the story.

For example, let's say you are reading an excerpt from The Three Little Pigs, specifically the part where one of the pigs has decided to build his house out of straw. You may ask aloud, 'Why would he use straw instead of something sturdier?' You are showing your students that you are not only reading the story, but are also actively involved in the reading. By thinking aloud throughout their reading, students are increasing their ability to comprehend the text.

Making Predictions - this strategy is used as the student is actively reading a text, and can be used with long or short passages. When students are making predictions, they are guessing what will happen next in the story. For example, in the story of the Three Pigs, the wolf visits each of the pigs in an attempt to get into their homes. After the wolf visits the first pig's home and blows the house down, the teacher may ask students 'What do you think will happen next when the wolf visits the next pig's home?' The teacher is asking the students to make a prediction. As the students continue to read, they will find out whether their prediction was correct.

Questioning - In the language arts classroom, students should be encouraged to develop their critical thinking skills. This can be accomplished by having them ask questions as they read. Good readers are able to ask relevant questions as they are reading, in order to check their understanding of the text. Teachers may have to model this skill by reading a story passage aloud and asking questions related to the reading:

  1. What is the tone and mood or the story?
  2. Why are certain characters important to the plot?
  3. Do you think the setting is as important as the characters?

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