Activity 2: Practicing Active Reading


You can do the following exercise as often as you need to until you automatically ask yourself questions as you actively read a text. Try it with different authors, styles of textbooks, courses, and materials. Newspapers, magazines, journal articles, textbooks, etc. will be constructed in a variety of ways, so you have to be flexible and smart about how you read them. Try reading first with just a paragraph, then gradually expanding your selection to include more paragraphs or whole sections or sub-sections of text.

Select a paragraph, or a group of paragraphs, and read it carefully and thoroughly. Put the material aside and answer the following questions:

  • How would you paraphrase the content if you were describing it to someone? This text is about__________________?
  • What are the main points, ideas, or theses? What is the author trying to say or prove?
  • Did you understand all of the vocabulary and concepts?
  • Were any words or phrases printed in bold face or italics? Why?
  • How did the author organize/structure the material? Was it fact-based? Theoretical? Problem oriented? Argumentative? Opinionated?
  • What were the most important points in the text that supported the main idea? List them.
  • What assumptions were made in the text? Do they contradict other material you have read?
  • Do you agree or disagree with the content? Why?


Check Your Predictions and Ask a New Question


The third step of active reading involves developing strategies to be used during reading, and then actually reading the text. Here are some active reading tips.

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Student Dialog - Predicting

Sage: What if our predictions aren't correct? Does that mean we messed up?

Deena: No. That's why we check ourselves. We can't all be perfect all the time. We check our predictions, and then we form new questions and write them down along with the answers.

Sage: So, we might have to change our predictions because they really didn't match the text?

Deena: I would think so. After all, we didn't write the text, and our predictions were conceived before we did the reading. Part of learning is adding to or changing what we already know, and modifying our attitudes and points of view. Basically, our prior knowledge is what we use to come up with predictions in the first place. When we find our predictions are incorrect, it means we are getting something from the process of active reading.

Jose: So, we need to revise our predictions often as we read the text?

Deena: Yes, along with forming new questions and answers.

Jose: If I follow what you have just said, by becoming involved with the text, we will remember it better.

Deena: Right, Jose. We become active learners by reading in this way.

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When you Recite, you retrain your mind to concentrate and learn as you read.