Skim First, Answer Later: A Textbook Study Strategy Activity

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Updated on Feb 28, 2014

If you've seen the tome of a textbook your middle schooler has been lugging around, you know that getting through a chapter is quite a chore, nevermind retaining important information. But textbook studying doesn't have to be a slog. Here's a simple activity you can do at home before your middle schooler begins those long end-of-the-chapter review questions.

What You Need:

  • Textbook
  • Pencil

What You Do:

  1. Go the to the end of the chapter your kid has been assigned. Read the first question in the chapter review and help your child identify 1-2 key words in the question (names, places, dates, vocabulary).
  2. Begin with the first section of the chapter and skim by reading only the first and last sentences of each paragraph.
  3. While skimming, remind your student to look for the key words from the question.
  4. Next to each question, write the page number and paragraph number (e.g. p. 53, #3) where you find the key words.
  5. Repeat this process for each chapter question.

This is an easy way to find answers to factual questions, as well as support for open-ended, higher-level questions. By breaking down the questions into key words, and lessening the amount of reading, homework sessions with your middle school student will be shorter and more efficient. Eventually, students will be able to skim first and answer more quickly!

Brigid Del Carmen has a Master's Degree in Special Education with endorsements in Learning Disabilities and Behavior Disorders/Emotional Impairments. Over the past eight years, she has taught Language Arts, Reading and Math in her middle school special education classroom.

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