What is your reading strategy

sofatutor magazine Teacher

Where some enthusiastically pull out the colorful markers, others give up in frustration after just a few sentences. The reason: Many students have great difficulties in reading literacy. Teachers can help by teaching effective strategies.

Reading without understanding - especially factual texts, are difficult for many students to understand. With the right reading techniques, new information can be linked directly in the brain and stored in memory over the long term. You can find out how this works and what role you play as a teacher here.

Step 1: Preparation is everything - this is how teachers can prepare texts

Teachers should above all prepare factual texts well. Especially if it contains technical terms that your students are not yet familiar with. This applies to both primary and secondary schools. Because as soon as a word is not understood, it disrupts the flow of reading and understanding the text. Here's how you can make it easier for your students:

  1. Insert one glossary with the terms contained in the text. Provide an explanation in plain language.
  2. Subdivide the text using Sub-headings or chapters.
  3. Look for Infographics or images that visually underline what has been described.
  4. Formulate askthat the students should answer with the help of the text.
  5. Think about it creative tasks: Have the students write a newspaper article, design a poster or record a video report on what they have read. This is how your class actively deals with the text.

The following template for a glossary can be used well to promote reading skills:

glossar_lesestrategie.pdf (file size: 1MB)

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Step 2: Get an overview in advance

Before your students concentrate fully on reading, they should study the text in general. The following steps are advisable:

  1. Retrieve prior knowledge: What do I already know about the topic and how does this text fit in?
  2. Read the headline: What can I expect when reading the text?
  3. Determine genus: Is it a factual text, a report or an essay? How are such texts structured?
  4. Read questions / tasks: With what focus do I have to read the text? Which questions do I have to be able to answer afterwards?

Step 3: Skim texts - scan and skim

Now it is time to actually read the text. There are different approaches. It is advisable to first "scan" or "skim" the text:

to scan

With so-called "scanning" the text is only scanned over. The pupils do not read word for word, but search specifically for keywords and information in the text. These can be names, dates or technical terms. These can be marked in color, underlined or otherwise identified.


The “skimming” method is used to get a general overview of the form and content of the text. The students collect impressions, look at headings and subheadings and, if necessary, the table of contents. This gives you an overall picture of the content and scope of the text.

Step 4: Read Thoroughly

The pupils then read the text paragraph by paragraph. Only the most important points should be marked so that the text does not become too confusing. Ambiguities can also be identified with a question mark and particularly interesting passages with an exclamation mark on the edge.

If there are no sub-headings, these can be placed independently in appropriate places in order to divide the text sensibly. Alternatively, a subdivision based on the questions or tasks you have formulated would also make sense.

Step 5: Sketchnoting instead of bullet points

The study The Surprisingly Powerful Influence of Drawing on Memoryhas shown that the graphic representation of information leads to it being anchored in the memory in the long term. Therefore, the method of sketch noting is also an effective strategy for taking notes while reading. Information is visualized with the help of pictograms and individual drawings. With this unconventional and creative method, you can also pick up those students who cannot do anything with the classic notes in the form of bullet points.

Step 6: Evaluation of the results

When your students have finished reading the text, they will work on the questions and tasks that you have formulated as a work assignment.

The results are then presented. This can happen in different ways:

  • Presentation using posters (gallery walkway)
  • Oral presentation in plenary (reading out the answers)
  • Written elaboration that is collected and assessed by the teacher
  • Presentation using a self-made video
  • Presentation of the results in small groups

Step 7: reflection and outlook

Finally, your students should reflect on what they have learned with the help of the text and whether further research on the topic would be useful. The following questions provide a good framework for reflection:

  • Did the expectations I had of the text apply?
  • What did I not understand after reading the text?
  • Which terms are still unclear to me that have been used in the text?
  • Which questions could I not answer? What information was missing?
  • What else would I be interested in on the subject?
  • Where and with what tools can I do further research on the topic?

We all have Steps and reading strategies again summarized for you in a graphic:

infografik_lesestrategie_schule.pdf (file size: 1MB)

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Actively exploring texts is a skill that students also benefit from at university, during training and later in professional life. It is therefore important to teach them strategies at an early stage how they can effectively absorb information while reading, link it to what has already been learned and anchor it in their memory over the long term.

© Cover picture: Siora Photography / unsplash.com

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