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:
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.
- Set realistic goals for the amount of time and number of pages to be read.
- Divide a chapter into small sections, rather than trying to read the whole chapter non-stop.
- Ask yourself a question before each paragraph or section, and then locate the answer in the text.
- Take breaks when you are unable to concentrate on the material due to daydreaming, drowsiness, boredom, hunger, etc.
- Use your hand and marking pen to guide your eyes down the page, marking only the essential words and phrases.
- Think, interpret, and analyze the first time you read, to avoid unnecessary re-reading.
- Remember to conceptualize the text as you read. Look at texts from a historical, biographical, and cultural context. Most readers interpret material based upon personal experiences. Depending on the author's point of view and culture, there could be extremely different ways to interpret that period of history. Conceptualizing helps you think about the author's point of view as it relates to your reading of the text.
- Ask yourself your brainstorming questions (questions designed to solve a problem) as you read. Questions should be clear and concise; relate questions directly to the text rather than asking abstract or general questions. View the text as holding a variety of possibilities and more than one concept or idea. Don't develop questions that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no" response.
- Write the answers to your questions as you find them.
- Check back to see if your predictions about the text were correct.
- Ask yourself new questions and write them down. Examine and re-examine the answers to your questions.
- Revise your predictions as you read. If your first predictions about the text were incorrect, that's okay. In fact, it means you are really getting something out of the process of actively reading. Highlight or mark areas that challenged your attitudes, beliefs, or responses to current issues.
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.
When you Recite, you retrain your mind to concentrate and learn as you read.
- After each section stop, look away from the book, recall your questions, and see if you can answer them from memory.
- If not, look back again, but do not go on to the next section until you can recite the answers.
- Also, try to visualize what you have just read.
- Make separate notes or outlines of what you have read.