Reading for Understanding
Understanding your reading purpose -Be aware of the weekly topics by using your syllabus as a guide. Understanding these broad topics will begin
to help you extract the main ideas from the readings. With these broad topics in mind you’ll then be able to organize the content of each reading as it relates to the broad
topic for the week. Always ask yourself, what does this reading have to do with the topic for this week?
Preview the material-Look through the article or chapter before you begin a detailed reading. Get a feel for the “big picture” of what the article is discussing. Try to get a sense of what you are going to learn. Think about the article in light of the topic under discussion.
Are you a note taker, highlighter, or both? Decide how you’ll extract the important content from the readings. Both taking notes and highlighting are important, but find a way that works best for you. It may be helpful to highlight the important content as you go, making notes along the way will help you put the authors’ ideas into your own words. It may also be helpful to write a short summary at the end of each reading to help you organize the main ideas, as well as providing you a place to make note of any questions you have related to each reading.
Be an active reader-Engage with the material with interest and curiosity. Keep asking yourself questions. Note quotes or references that stand out for you and might be useful in your discussion essay. Take notes, use post-its, highlight, or underline specific sections that are helpful to you. Make a list of questions and write the answers as you find them. Keep a list of unanswered questions to share with your classmates.
Apply what you read-Readings can seem ambiguous if you’re not able to conceptualize what they mean in real life. Use your work with children to help clarify what you’re reading. Ask yourself, how have I seen these ideas in my work with children? Make note of these examples in your reading notes or in the margins of the articles.
Applying the material to your own life will not only help enhance your understanding, but will also make the content more meaningful.
Become a critical reader- Think about the information and how it fits with your own background information, experiences, and other readings on this topic. Take a few minutes to evaluate, judge, and reflect on how accurate you think the information is, how relevant you find it to your professional experiences, and if there is important information that isn’t included in the material.
Use a dictionary – Look up words you don’t understand or are unsure about.
Read with different levels of attention – Each reading is important. However, all readings do not contain the same value and relevance to all students. Read some information, and study other information. You can always go back and read some information more thoughtfully if you need to.
Reflect on what you read –
After you finish the readings, allow yourself some time to reflect on the information. How does it relate to you as a practitioner? Does it “shake up” any previous knowledge or assumptions you had about this topic? Understanding how the readings relate to you is important to consider.
What if I don’t understand something? The reality is that much of the content you will read for your courses will be new and unfamiliar. There will be times when your readings will be clear and easy to read, while other times you’ll find yourself scratching your head. If you’ve read the same paragraph two or three times and still aren’t understanding the content then chances are you just need to make note and move on. Try reading another article or chapter for the week; it might bring some clarity to the previously difficult reading and if not, that’s fine too. Remember, you won’t understand everything just from your readings and that’s okay. Be sure to ask your classmates, instructors, and tutors for help.