Thursday, May 1, 2014

What preparation do students need to read informational texts?

By this point, we all know that most students need special preparation if they're to read and understand complex informational texts.

But what sorts of tasks should you undertake to make sure this preparation is done right?

Dr. Kate Kinsella has some answers in this wonderful article originally published in Language Magazine. Here's a great quotation:

"Preparing students for the reading demands of high school and college curricula involves a reality check about the time and process involved in maturely engaging with a text as an accomplished scholar would in any discipline. Modeling the process of previewing an entire text to gauge text complexity then breaking it down into manageable segments for detailed reading and study is essential support for developing readers.

[. . .]

Without explicit, interactive in-class guidance, ill-equipped readers plow into a research article as if they were approaching a short story, starting on page one, with no sense of the text length, focus, structure, or more essential sections, and rarely make it beyond the introductory matter."

Students do need specific instruction concerning how to read and analyze nonfiction, and Dr. Kinsella does a lovely job of enumerating the reasons this specific instruction is important.

Prestwick House's Reading Informational Texts series of books hits many of Dr. Kinsella's points — the Teacher's Editions contain qualitative and quantitative measures of text complexity and explain how those evaluations were formed, so you can take that information to your students.

Thanks for reading!

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