Promoting Critical Reading

Reading is an important skill. Yet, many students tend to read only to "get done". Oftentimes, we require the students to take notes when reading, but just writing down what the reading says is not the same as really thinking about what the reading is saying. Today, my classes discussed and practiced how we can get ourselves to think more critically about our reading. Forcing ourselves to think when reading can be difficult, but we can encourage the thinking by asking ourselves questions like:

-"what do I disagree with?"
-"What has the writer left out?"
-"What needs to be more clear?"
-"How does this information fit with what I already have thought".


Today, the students tried to write out some of the thinking they were doing while reading a passage out of our textbook. The writing process forces them to slow down and think, but also provides me (the teacher) with something I can look at and assess their level of mental engagement and their level of understanding. As students read and wrote, I was reading some of their writing and providing immediate feedback. I believe that if i want students to gain in their writing/thinking abilities, I must be there to provide support and guidance. Simply assigning this activity as homework would not have been as productive. We as the teacher must encourage students to reach higher levels.

As a parting note, I leave you with the rationale I give students for taking their writing seriously. "Writing our thinking is difficult, but by working to make our writing clear, we work to make our thinking clear."

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