Beating the Humdrum
January 2, 2012 6 Comments
Flicking through your courseboook, have you ever thought the reading texts all seem a little bit….
It’s hard to get teenagers to interact with a text about Prince Charles.
Exam course books with page-long texts sap energy from the classroom and tire students out.
Can students bring their cultural knowledge interact with an anglo-centrically themed text?
Read, underline, read, underline, answer questions… seems a bit repetitive, doesn’t it?
So here are some ways of adding a little zest to a reading text. They are not failsafe and obviously aren’t applicable to every text you come across but I have found them very useful lately to increase student participation in reading and make it a bit more than just the humdrum comprehension.
Take a more informative text – exam books are full of them, like on the founders of some juice company or how children spend their free time in the UK. Put students into groups and give them each a part of the text. They then underline five sentences they think express the opinion of the author. Discuss them as a group and check with the teacher. Ask each group to rewrite the part of the text using the 5 sentences (like a writing guide) but stress that it must be rewritten in their opinion! Swap and guess which part of the text the rewritten version comes from.
Again making use of the numerous ‘informative’ texts or even a true story human interest text, ask your class to make three of four interview questions to interview the class with. To add some support for this activity you might use the same key sentences for opinions activity or perhaps by putting a question box on the board.
what would you say is______/let’s say you were_________, would you?
This one works well with short-story or human experience texts or just a part of the text. If the text describes one scene, give students a piece of paper, if it’s a sequence of scenes, give them paper with boxes on. One reads the text and the other draws it unfolding. Compare pictures and explain their stories to different groups. Some groups will have understood different vocabulary and at this time they can explain these to each other, the teacher can also intervene to add to this and supply more information.
4. Game shows
Give the text to your class for homework to read: half the class reads the texts and creates 3 questions and the other half only has to read. In class, have the other half of the class write their questions on the board. Those who didn’t make questions now have to read the text one final time and will work in groups of two to answer the questions, like a game show with one point for sufficient detail, two for lots and three for detail plus opinion.
5. Jigsaw summaries with longer texts
Mark a number one each paragraph. Distribute parts of a text like a in jigsaw activity. Students summarise the paragraphs they are given. Having done this, they pass their summaries to the other groups, who read the rest of the text and match them to the correct paragraphs.
Take a character from a short story or text from a course book. Make two questions about the character, ambiguous questions which students would have to infer information in the text in order to answer like “would X prefer a night in with friends and pizza or a wild night out on the town?”. Once students have answered these, ask them to make two of their to share with the class.