encouraging better student reading practices
Encouraging Better Student Reading Practices
“We normally acknowledge…that writing must be taught and continue to be taught from high school to college and perhaps beyond. We accept it, I believe, because we can see writing, and we know that much of the writing we see is not good enough. But we do not see reading. . . . I am certain, though, that if we could see it, we would be appalled.” – Robert Scholes from “The Transition to College Reading”
Behind the Scenes of Reading Assignments
- Make sure to assign a reasonable amount of reading. If you assign too much reading, students will not have enough time to develop a deep understanding of the concepts presented.
- Explain context of the reading. Give students contextual information about the reading. Providing such background information can help them better understand the material, its purposes, and arguments.
- Explain how the reading connects to concepts in the course and beyond. Make the reading relevant to students. Explain how the reading relates to the learning objectives of the course and beyond.
- Explain how the reading will be used in the course. Will the reading be used for future assignments? Exams? Discussion? Future course concepts? Try to be explicit with how the reading will be utilized.
- Link reading with discussion and writing assignments. Plan discussions, dialogue, and written assignments to give students an opportunity to engage with the reading.
12 Writing Activities that Complement Reading Assignments
- Reading Response Questions: Ask students to respond to critical thinking questions about the reading.
- Journals/Logs: Have students keep journals of their reading responses.
- Freewriting Activities: Ask students to freewrite in response to the reading (this can be an activity conducted in class or outside of class).
- Reading Blogs: Use a blog to have students record their responses to reading assignments.
- Outline Arguments: Have students make outline, flowchart, or diagram of the reading material.
- Reading Summaries: Have students compose summaries of readings.
- Annotated Bibliographies: Have students construct annotated bibliographies of assigned readings.
- Summary/Response Assignments: Ask students to compose a précis of the reading in one column; in another column, ask them to reflect on the reading.
- Focused Reading Notes: Give students prescribed key words/phrases/themes/concepts you want them to know; then have students compile reading notes focused on these topics.
- Dialogue with the Author: Have students write dialogues in which they interview the author or engage in a debate with the author.
- Translations: Ask students to write a “translation” of a passage, using their own voices and languages.
- Student-Generated Quiz Questions: Have students write quiz questions about the reading material.
Suggestions for Further Reading
Adler-Kassner, Linda and Heidi Estrem. “Reading Practices in the Writing Classroom.” WPA 31.1/2 (2007): 35-47. Print.
Bean, Jon. “Chapter 8: Helping Students Read Difficult Texts.” Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001. 133-148. Print.
Bunn, Michael. “Motivation and Connection: Teaching Reading (and Writing) in the Composition Classroom.” College Communication and Composition 64.3 (2013): 496-516. Print.
Carillo, Ellen C. “Making Reading Visible in the Classroom.” Currents in Teaching and Learning 1.2 (2009): 37-41. Web.
Elbow, Peter. “The War Between Reading and Writing: And How to End It.” Rhetoric Review 12.1 (1993): 5-24. Print.
Gottschalk, Katherine and Keith Hjortshoj. “Chapter 8: Links between Writing, Reading, Discussion, and Oral Presentation.” The Elements of Teaching Writing: A Resource for Instructors in All Disciplines. Boston: Beford/St. Martin’s, 2004. 121-144. Print.
Scholes, Robert. “The Transition to College Reading.” Pedagogy 2.2 (2002): 165-172. Web.