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Strategies for Reading Expository Texts

By Trent Lorcher

Emphasize skills over content and create life-long learners. These reading strategies for expository texts will help your high school class better comprehend and analyze text.

Skills and Strategies

Follow this guide to teach your students how to analyze expository texts:

Previewing: Noticing the organization of ideas prepares students for the type of information they will encounter. Looking over the text's headings, sub-headings, illustrations, captions, graphics, and charts provides a solid foundation for comprehension. If the text they're reading has a summary at the end, instruct them to read it first (I understand this is giving away one of the best kept secrets of teaching, but do it anyway. Your students will think you're really cool for divulging inside information).

Activating Prior Knowledge: Students are surprised at how much they know (teachers are often shocked at how much students don't know). Use key concepts and terms from the text and help students relate new concepts to things they already know. Helping them feel confident in their knowledge and ability removes the general haze of apathy that inhabits the space between their ears and their brains. An additional step between pre-reading and reading involves the sharing of background knowledge.

Varying Reading Rate: Ask students if they've ever read something, got to the end and had no idea what they had just read. They will all raise their hand. Varying the reading rate will alleviate this problem.

Setting a Purpose for Reading: Students should know why they are reading a particular passage: Will it be on the test? Will it be necessary for class discussion? Is it something they will encounter in the real world? Will it be the basis of a project? What specifically do they need to know? Will they have to answer questions? Are you just trying to kill 15 minutes on a Friday (Yes, another inside secret to the profession)?

Monitoring Comprehension: Explain to students that taking an extra 12 seconds to reread or check for understanding could save them a lifetime of low paying jobs and years at a really bad college.

Identifying Main Ideas: Have students summarize the main idea for every section, page, or paragraph. This is especially useful with difficult to understand passages.

Reviewing: Students who review what they've read within 24-hours increase their memory capacity. Students can review by looking at notes, graphic organizers, text features, or by group discussion.