Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Determining Main Ideas in a Reading Passage

I start my AP World History class almost every day with a warm up.  I like the routine of starting off class with the students diving right into content and thinking.  Also, they know what to do at the beginning of class, which helps them start right away.  Before every student had an iPad, I left the warm ups at the door.  Each student picked the paper up as they entered the room, and the instructions were always on the sheet.  Now that each student has an iPad, they download it through the LMS I use, Schoology. 
Most of the time the warm up is a reading that builds background knowledge or addresses an AP theme that is, for a lack of better way to say it, random.  The warm ups are always short, something they can read or complete in less than a few minutes.  Then they can share with another student.  Finally, we report out as a class and then I answer any questions the students might have. The whole process takes from five to ten minutes.
I have a variety of strategies I use depending on what skill I would like to focus on that day.  Also, the variety helps keep the students interested in doing them almost every day. In this case, I used the deletion summary reading strategy.  I used this strategy because students often have a trouble determining what is important or not.  This is crucial when reading non-fiction material.  Furthermore, students will need this skill in any profession, as they will need to be able to sift through material quickly and efficiently in almost any profession.   
 I always give the students a clearly defined purpose when they read.  When using the deletion summary strategy, students cross out everything that does not answer the question or is aligned to the purpose. At the end, I have the students summarize the remaining information. 
Seeing what students delete or keep is very revealing. At first, they either delete or keep everything.  It takes several attempts for students to understand what is important. It takes time to develop that skill when reading unfamiliar non-fiction material.  To help the students, I walk through the process with the class.  After reading each line, I ask what part of the line is essential or directly related to the objective.  Then, we cross out everything we did not say.  As we do this more frequently, I will have several students share over AppleTV their attempts.  





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