Educators have become increasingly aware that many high school and middle school students just don’t have the skills to read their math, science and social studies textbooks. It doesn’t help that many textbooks don’t exactly use best practices when presenting unfamiliar vocabulary and information, and that content teachers in the upper grades are typically not trained to develop students’ reading skills.
Below are some strategies for middle and high school students to use to increase their comprehension.
Especially for students with learning disabilities, mnemonics such as the PLAN strategy can be very helpful. PLAN stands for:
- Predict content and structure of text before reading based on titles, subtitles and graphics.
- Locate known and unknown information on concept map.
- Add words and phrases to map during reading.
- Note new understanding by making changes in concept map.
Scaffolding reading stages can also improve reading comprehension.
In scaffolded reading experience, teachers give students tools and techniques that help organize their reading experience in three stages:
- Pre-reading stage– students list words associated with the topic, list vocabulary associated with a specific concept and categorize these words.
- During-reading stage– students set a purpose for reading and use the following techniques: visualization (creating images for descriptive words) and self-regulation (adjusting reading rate, making predictions, asking and answering questions.
- After-reading stage– students may complete a plot pyramid or write a summary.