1. Write the questions of the day on the board (the question
may also be printed on strips of paper and handed to students
at the door as they come in): “How does a person become
an accomplished reader? What does it mean to be able to read
well?” Allow students 5-10 minutes to contemplate and
write down their responses and ideas. Tell them to write as
much as they can about these topics and prepare to have a short
discussion about them.
2. When students have written down their responses, ask a few
people to share what they think. Spend about 10 minutes or
so talking about the qualities of a successful reader (some
examples might be “Reads a lot”, “Reads without
difficulty”, “Can read for a long time”, “Can
read quickly”, etc…). You might have a student
write a list on the board of these characteristics. Explain
to the class that what we think of as “successful” or “good” readers
are not really any more gifted than a reader who struggles—the
strong reader is simply more familiar with and has had more
practice with the reading strategies necessary to comprehend
a text. Encourage the students to realize that they too can
become more proficient readers if they learn about and use
3. The next activity should take the rest of the class period
and will spill over into day 2. Have students break into groups
of 3-4 people in order to read 5-6 short excerpts from different
texts (or you may use the excerpts provided in the Sample Texts
Handout). These excerpts should be prepared ahead of time in
reading packets. Draw from a variety of texts, including scientific
and historical articles, with a copy for each student to read.
Each excerpt should only be 1-2 paragraphs long. Instruct the
class to read each selection one at a time, and to write down
answers to the following questions as they read each text (you
may want to write these target questions on the board or put
them into a handout):
What are you thinking about as you read this excerpt?
b) Do you have any difficulty in reading this piece? If so,
what problems did you encounter?
c) If you had problems understanding the text, did you solve
those problems? How?
d) As you read, are you distracted by anything in the text
or in your environment? What distracts you? Can you get focused
on the reading again? How?
the students to be thorough in their responses and really
think about what goes on in
their minds as they
try to comprehend each selection. After they read and write
down their responses to these questions, students should
converse with their team members about each article. Encourage
them to explain to each other how they read each selection
and what mental processes were going on in their head while
they were reading. This meta-cognitive thinking may be
tough for some students; encourage them to refer often
responses to the four target questions. Remind them to
go beyond simple analysis like “I just don’t understand
it”, to identifying what specific parts of the text
make it challenging. Students will most likely not finish
their group work on day 1, but will continue on day 2.
1. Have students reconvene in their analysis groups from
the previous day and resume reading and taking notes
on their challenging texts. You may want to have 1 or
texts available for groups that finish early. Give the
class about 15-20 minutes to finish their group work;
each student should have read each excerpt, answered
target questions for each article, and discussed their
answers with their team members.
2. As a whole class, discuss each text, noting what difficulties
students had with each piece. As a student explains what
made a particular reading difficult, determine by a show
of hands if other students encountered the same problem.
Ask students to explain what they did to overcome these
challenges. While this discussion is going on, the teacher
or a student should compile the responses into a double-column
chart (on poster board or butcher paper) entitled “Reading
Roadblocks and Reading Strategies”. In the left hand
column students will describe some of the difficulties
or “roadblocks” they encountered while reading,
and in the right hand column students will explain the
tools or strategies they used to overcome these challenges
and understand the text. Ask students to point out strategies
that were most helpful in understanding scientific and
history based texts.
Once the whole class has composed a reading strategies chart, the teacher will
introduce to them the correct terminology and definitions for the reading strategies
they have discovered (see teacher background). Then have the students copy down
the chart (with the appropriate strategy labels in parenthesis) into their notes
for future reference.
Assess the students as they are working in groups by checking
their individual responses to the target questions. They
should be able to identify such reading difficulties as
unfamiliar vocabulary, confusing sentence structure, unclear
topic, outside/mental distractions, etc. Make sure that
students are able to point out specific parts of the text
that make it challenging. Some students may not know how
to overcome these roadblocks at first, but by the end of
the lesson all should have an idea of new strategies to
read a challenging text at home for 15 minutes and experiment
with the reading strategies.