Becoming an Active Reader Study Guide (page 2)

Updated on Aug 25, 2011

Look Up Unfamiliar Words

Looking up unfamiliar words is another very important active reading strategy. You need to know what the words mean to understand what someone is saying. After all, a key word or phrase can change the meaning of a whole passage.

Whenever possible, have a dictionary with you when you read. Circle and look up any unfamiliar words right away. (Circling them makes them easier to find if you lose your place.) Write the meaning in the margin. That way, you won't have to look up the meaning again if you forget it; it will always be there to refer to. (Of course, if you don't own the book, don't write in it! Instead, write down the vocabulary word and its definition in a notebook.)

If you don't have a dictionary with you, try to figure out what the word means. What clues does the author provide in that sentence and surrounding sentences? Mark the page number or write down the word somewhere so you can look it up later. See how closely you were able to guess its meaning. (You'll learn more about this in Lesson 3.)

Record Your Questions and Comments

As you read, you're bound to have questions and comments. You're also likely to have reactions to the reading. You might wonder why the author used a certain example, or you might think a particular description is beautiful. Write your questions and comments in the margin (or on a separate piece of paper if the book is not yours) using the code that follows.

Place a ? in the margin if you have a question about the text or if there is something that you don't understand.

Place a in the margin if you agree with what the author wrote.

Place an X in the margin if you disagree with what the author wrote.

Place a + if you see connections between the text and other texts you have read, or if you understand the experience being described. It may also help you to write additional notes to help you remember the connection.

Place an ! in the margin if you are surprised by the text or the writer's style.

Place a in the margin if there is something you read that you like about the text or the style.

Place a in the margin if there is something you read that you don't like about the text or the style.

This kind of note taking keeps you actively involved with your reading. It makes you think more carefully about what you read—and that means you will better understand and remember the material.

Here's an example of how you might respond to the Wind Chill Factor passage:

People have known for a long time that they feel colder when the wind is blowing. The reason for this is simple. The faster the wind blows, the faster your body will lose heat. To educate the public, scientists in Antarctica performed experiments and developed a table to give people a better idea of how cold they would feel outside when the wind was blowing. This is important because prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can be dangerous.

As you used this shorthand, you would know that:

The + next to the second line means that you remember the cold temperatures on your school ski trip last February.

The next to the fourth line means that you know that cold winds make your body lose heat.

The next to the sixth line means that you wish the author had included the table to make the point more clear.

The ? next to the ninth line means that you don't know how long is "prolonged."

View Full Article
Add your own comment