Why are some students excellent text readers while others are not? I think the answer boils down to aggressive vs. passive reading. Far too often, I see students passively read every word within a text, underlining indiscriminately (or not at all). They might as well be reading the passage on their own for pleasure. When I ask these students what they have read, they often say “I don’t know,” yet continue to read down the page without any real comprehension!
Our job at WilsonPrep is to turn students into AGGRESSIVE readers– to fight through a passage by actively engaging. The active reading strategies that students learn in order to conquer the SAT or ACT are the same strategies that they will use in college.
An aggressive reader understands that text reading is not pleasure reading and adjusts his or her mindset accordingly. Aggressive readers “talk to themselves” as they read: “What does this word mean? Why did the author just write this? What is the main idea in this paragraph? … I don’t understand this line and I might need to come back to it later… I don’t need these next few lines and I can skip to the next paragraph….” Unlike passive readers, these students really know what they are reading.
Like soldiers learning the art of war, students often come in with few reading skills and leave with strategies for success. Below is the profile of a WilsonPrep strategic reader:
Understands and analyzes how different kinds of reading passages require different strategies
Identifies the task and sets a purpose (discriminates between reading a non-fiction passage vs. a prose vs. a double passage vs. a chart vs. a founding document)
Chooses appropriate reading strategies for the reading situation (makes a plan!)
General Strategies include:
• Looking for important ideas
• Identifying patterns of text
• Sequencing events
• Looking for relationships
• Reading ahead for clarification
• Mentally asking questions about understanding of text
• Relating text to background knowledge
Specific Strategies include:
• Circling names, dates, and places
• Circling birthday words (But, Instead, Rather, Though, However, Despite, Although, Yet)
• Underlining rhetorical questions, topic sentences, and anything that comes after a colon and a dash
• Focusing on the introduction and conclusion
Monitors own comprehension by:
• Making sure that comprehension is occurring
• Knowing what is being comprehended
• Regulating comprehension for misreading or passiveness
With these reading strategies on hand, a WilsonPrep strategic reader can win the battle of any reading passage!