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Reading Strategies for Different Purposes

Let’s begin with two very obvious facts:

1. Students in the same classes have very different reading skills.boy and girl reading one book tegether

2. Each student needs to use different strategies for different kinds of reading.

Joey and Marianne, the two students in the picture appear to be reading the same book.  You probably know this isn’t a very good idea. For serious reading, they each need their own book so they can work at their own speed, using the methods that work best for them.

Yes, some of you realize there might be a reason to look at the same book. They have been discussing the subject and disagree. Joe might show Marianne the paragraph that proves he is right. Or perhaps Marianne is teaching Joey the SQ3R reading method.

I wonder if they are thinking about what they are reading.

Choose a Reading Method that works for you

In order to choose a reading method for a particular assignment or book, you should think about three things.

A. Your reading skills and how hard this reading assignment or book is for you

B. How much you already know about the subject:   If you know the subject well, it is easier to read about it.

C. How important it is that you understand and remember what you read
If you are reading for pleasure, you can read quickly and skip words and information you don’t understand.
If you are going to take an important test on the subject, you should slow down and be certain you understand all the words and ideas and that you know the main ideas and important details and facts.

Three Levels of Reading

Level 1. The book is easy.  You know a lot about the subject or  are reading for Pleasure.

You know what to do. Enjoy yourself. Read as fast as you’d like. Most people read faster during exciting action scenes and slow down during scenes when they want to enjoy every word.

Level 2. The book is somewhat harder or it is more important to learn the material.

You might use the 4-step method

A. Decide what you really need to learn. Do NOT try to memorize every detail. If you are studying for a class or for a test, ask yourself what your teacher would expect you to know.

B. Decide how long you want to remember the information. Do you want to learn it for class tomorrow, for a quiz at the end of the week, for a final exam two months away, or do you want to remember it forever?

C. List the vocabulary words that you don’t understand, or don’t understand well enough. Write definitions and practice them.

D. As you read, look for MAIN IDEAS and the most important FACTS or Information. If the material is easy and you know the subject fairly well, you can usually just think to yourself something like this.

This isn’t hard. The main ideas are the 3 kinds of rocks: Sedimentary, Igneous, and Metamorphic. I knew that but I’d better practice the spelling. I know exactly what they mean but I need to learn the example of each kind of rock. I’ll write those down.

If the material is harder and less familiar, you might read the same material and think

This is really hard. I can remember that there are three kinds of rocks, but I can’t pronounce these words, and I sure can’t spell them. I need to write down the three kinds of rocks, write a definition for each, and make a list of examples for each of them. I can’t pronounce all of those either.  I could look up the pronunciation in a dictionary but those are hard to figure out. I can ask my brother to help me. He studied this a couple years ago. Uncle Peter might even be better.

In other words, you need to decide how much you already know or can remember easily, what else you need to learn, what to write down and where you can get help if you need it. You probably do something like this already.

If the reading is more challenging and it is important that you learn it well, you should learn the SQ3R method. Even if you don’t need it now, you should try learning the method now. When do you take a harder class, you will already have a reading method you can use.

Learning to Read with SQ3R


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