Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Topic: Interest and Reading

10-second review: “The more interesting the materials to the reader, the better his comprehension tends to be.” p. 236.

Title: “Basic Reading Skills: Comprehension and Rate Skills.” Psychology in Teaching Reading. HP Smith and EV Deschant. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1961.

Comment: I think some people in the field of reading believe that material itself  must be of interest to the reader in order for the reader to be successful. Therefore, the fault is in the material, not in the reader. The world is not like that. In fact, much of what we read in school is of little interest to most readers. And, in addition, as with a long book, interest rises and falls during the course of reading it. Rarely is a book of absorbing interest from beginning to end.

Students can be motivated to find interest in materials that they do not know is of interest to them. The more they know about a topic, the more they will understand and be interested in what they read about it. In the Directed Reading Assignment (DRA), the teacher builds background information on a topic with which the student has little familiarity. The teacher also pre-teaches key words that otherwise students might ignore if the words were not called to their attention. Finally, either the teacher or the student sets a purpose for reading. This means that not always is it necessary to read every word on every page as some readers assume and soon become distracted, and bored.

With a textbook chapter, for example, the teacher finds out what the students already know about the topic. Pictures and information are added to the students’ background. Secondly, the students read the title, sub-headings, bold-face print and pictures and diagrams in the text and then read the first paragraph, the first sentence of each intermediate paragraph and the last paragraph, more background information. And then students identify questions about the topic they want to answer from the text.

The more the students know about the topic, the greater the students’ interest will be in reading about the topic.

What do you do about novels in which the topic is not clear? I have an answer for that, too. Write to RayS at my e-mail address: raystop2@comcast.net.

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