Strategies to Use During and After Reading
by Laura Robb

"If I don't understand pages I skip them. Sometimes I skip over three pages. I never go back." Grade 4

"Sometimes I'm in the middle of a book and don't understand stuff. So I put the book back." Grade 3

"I just read what's on the page and write the titles and authors in my log. Don't ask me to think or talk about them." Grade 6
Needless to say, comments like these concern me. It's disheartening to see students going through the motions of reading and identifyng confusing parts, and yet lacking a deep involvement with books and strategies to help them cope with parts of books that seem difficult. These are the things I want to help them develop.

Presented here are additional strategies that students can use during and after reading to help make reading more meaningful. These strategies encourage reflection, offer ways for learners to deal with confusing passages in texts, and continue to connect students to characters' lives and new information.


Reading Rate
Rereading
Retelling

Reading Rate Back to Top

Fifth-grader Katee had difficulty recalling what she had read during class time. When I asked her to write why she didn't remember chunks of text, she revealed a feeling that many children have.

Reading faster. Sometimes I have to go over words again to make sure I know them.I think maybe only some people have to go back but most people in my class go fast.

In some ways reading fast is important. Lets say you get an assignment to read in class and when time's up you're not going to know the whole story. Most of the kids read faster than me.

I always feel I have to read fast in class and skim it. When I read at night I read slower.
Katee's belief that finishing fast is the mark of a good reader is all too common. You can alleviate kids' anxiety about this by explaining that everyone in the group will finish at different times. Always allow enough time for all students to finish.

Offer choices to students who complete their reading earlier; this will maintain the quiet other classmates need to finish their reading.

Or, invite the faster readers to reread, read their library book, write a reaction in a journal, or raise questions for discussion.

STRATEGY-IN-ACTION:
Adjusting Reading Rates

Develop minilessons to help students understand when to change their reading rate. When reading to remember, slow down to savor and enjoy words, images, illustrations, events and dialogue. Slow down to absorb new information and think about it as you read.

After students read, suggest they practice skimming to locate support in the text to prove a position, discuss issues and questions. Show students how to skim a page for key words, phrases, a character's name, or bold-face section headings. Point out how much faster skimming is than reading to remember and understand. Skimming is a short-term memory activity; slowing down and thinking about the text can place information in long-term memory.


Rereading Back to Top

During a student conference, third grader Crystal told me, "I reread a hard book like The Wizard of Oz three times. I do it over and over until I understand and the reading is easier." Good readers seem to figure out the benefits of rereading.

In the same third-grade class, Cal told me, "I never reread. Only dumb kids reread." Before modeling and practicing strategies that incorporate rereading, I ask the class to work in small groups and talk about rereading. My goal is to get kids to view rereading as a positive habit. The strategy fosters reading fluency, better recall of details, improved word recognition. Ultimately it builds students' self-confidence. After the third-graders talked, they wrote their ideas on chart paper:

How Rereading Can Help You

Understand hard words.
Find things you did not find before.
Help the story make sense.
Make it more interesting.
Help you memorize if you need to for a contest.
Make you a better reader.
Find words and sentences you skipped.
Keep reading a part over and you'll get it.
Make reading more fun because you go over the best parts.
A pretty terrific list! The strategies that follow also invite students to reread in order to support comprehension during and after reading.

STRATEGY-IN-ACTION:
Pause-Think-Retell

Encourage children to pause after each chapter; once or twice during a picture book; and after each section of a textbook. Show them how you stop, think, and then retell in order to monitor how much you recall. Point out that thinking and retelling reinforces remembering the text. If there is little recall, then reread and try to retell again.

Many students read and have little or no recall. This can be due to an inability to concentrate, to a lack of prior knowledge, or because the vocabulary is too difficult. If after two rereadings the passage still confuses, then students should seek assistance from a peer or the teacher.


Retelling Back to Top

Retelling entire stories is an excellent way for students to monitor how much they remember. The point is not to memorize the exact words, but for a child to recall in his/her own words, details about character, setting, plot, dialogue, or information. When monitoring oral and written retellings, look for the following:

SETTING
Student can tell where and when the story takes place.

CHARACTERS AND PROBLEMS
Names main character and problems he/she faced.
Names other characters and shows how these connect to main character.

PLOT
Recalls tne important events.
Sequences the events.
Includes rich details.
Includes beginning/middle/end of story.
Demonstrates an understanding of concepts and information.

SOLUTION
Shows how problems were solved.

PERSONAL CONNECTIONS
Offers feelings and reactions.
Makes connections between characters and events and own life.

PRESENTATION
Speaks fluently.
Uses vocabulary from text.



Source: Reading Strategies That Work: Teaching Your Students to Become Better Readers
by Laura Robb
ISBN 0-590-25111-2