Reading Strategy Review

Good readers think as we read; that’s why we say ‘Reading is Thinking.’ There are many ways to think about what we read, but most good readers use a mix of strategies. On days 1 and 2 this week, (Monday and Tuesday), we’ll review some of the ways good readers think about what we read. You’ve probably been hearing about this in Humanities, but a little review is always a good thing, since effective reading is one of the most important ‘study skills’ there is.

I’ll demonstrate these a quick read aloud from a book I like. Then when we meet individually on day 5 and 6 to talk about your reading goals,  I’ll check in with you about what strategies you are currently using the most.

Below are some strategies good readers use when reading.

Good readers:

Connect: Good readers use what they know to better understand what they read.

  • ‘This reminds me of something that happened to me.’Reading is thinking
  • ‘This reminds me of something I know from school.’
  • This reminds me of another book I read.

Question: Good readers ask questions as they read.

  • ‘I wonder….
  • ‘Who, what, where, when, why?’

Predict: Good readers use clues to think what might happen next.

  • ‘I predict ____ will happen…’
  • ‘I think this character will____ because….’

Infer: Good readers use clues and what they know to understand things that are not directly stated in a book.

  • ‘I think this means that…’
  • ‘This clue makes me think the character is nervous/sad/happy.’

Visualize and use sensory images: Good readers imagine what a story looks, smells, sounds like…

  • ‘In my mind I see…’
  • ‘In my mind, I hear…’

Determine what is important: Good readers use what is important in what I read so they can summarize it or find answers to what they want to know.

  • ‘This was mainly about….
  • ‘I found answers to what I wanted to know in chapter 5 of this book….’

Synthesize: Good readers pull together many ideas to find the big ideas or themes in what they read.

  • ‘The theme of this book is….’
  • ‘One big idea I see here is that…’

Use evidence: Good readers support my thinking about what they read with evidence or clues.

  • ‘I think this because it says…’
  • Because I know____, and it says ____, I think….’
  • ‘I can tell____, because it says_____’

The Science of Motivation

On Day 7 and 8 this week (Thursday and Friday), we’re going to think about what motivates us in school: why do we study for important assessments? Why do we turn in homework on-time? Why do we care about what shows up on Powerschool or our report cards? This may be the most important thing we think about this year, because motivation is key to all learning.

All students (all people, really)  are motivated by different things. In school, some work hard mostly for reasons that come from inside them. They study because they enjoy learning new things;  or because they want to prepare themselves for what comes next–high school, university, their future careers; or  because they find it satisfying to overcome challenges. Motivation that comes from inside us is called intrinsic motivation.

Other students work hard mostly for reasons that come from outside them. They study hard because they like to get praise or rewards from their teachers; or because they want to make their parents happy; or because they want to avoid ‘getting in trouble.’  Motivation that comes from outside us is called extrinsic motivation.

Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can work, and most of us are motivated by a mix of things. But there is some interesting research that suggests that extrinsic motivators (e.g., rewards and punishments) work better for mechanical, boring things, while intrinsic motivators (e.g., working hard because it is satisfying to do a job well) work better for things involving creativity and higher level thinking–much of what we do in school.

For example, rewarding people with money for picking up trash is likely to result in them picking up more trash. But rewarding people with money to become great writers or to solve high level math problems, is not likely to be effective. This may seem hard to believe, but this video by Daniel Pink explains some of the research and reasons why this is true. (If you’d prefer to read about these ideas, you can look here.)

So what mostly motivates you as a student–what makes you work hard when you work hard? Which are more important to you, extrinsic (outside) motivators or intrinsic (inside) motivators? Share your thinking in the comments below.

Google Classroom and August 15

Monday and Tuesday (days 5 and 6), we’ll all get enrolled in Google Classroom. We’ll also practice study planning and do a math warm up. You’ll also have some time to read and work on things that you may have to do from your other classes.

We’ll be off on Wednesday, August 15th to celebrate India’s Independence Day. At midnight on August 15, 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, gave his famous ‘Tryst with Destiny” speech. You can read the full text of the address here. And below, you can watch an original video of the first, and most famous part of the speech.

Getting Organized

This week on Thursday and Friday (days 3 and 4), as IPads are rolling out, we’ll set up our study planning notebooks, and think about what we’ve done in the past to keep track of our work and what we may want to change this year. Remember, we all need a system for keeping track of our homework! 

When I was in middle school, there was only really one way to track homework: you’d write it down. The only  question was whether you’d write it in a calendar, a binder, or on a scrap of paper. I know I tried them all, with varying degrees of success.

Now at AES in 2017, there are many more options. Some students track homework by writing it into a hard copy calendar, such as the AES agenda. This is what I often do, myself. Others rely on electronic tools, such as Notes, Reminders, or Google Calendar. Some students simply check their ‘to-do’ list on Google Classroom each day. Every system has advantages and disadvantages. pic calenar

I thought it would be interesting to share with each other the systems we use for remembering what we have to do and when we have to do it. Please tell us what you do and why it your think it works for you in the comments below. If you are planning to use new tools this year, please share those as well. And while you’re at it, why not read what other students are doing? You might learn a new trick or two while you are at it. Don’t worry if you are new to AES middle school; we’ll be helping you find a system that works for you.