January 24, 2013
When students are provided a guide, the reader can better make sense of the text, increasing his or her ability to problem solve using prior knowledge and personal context.

Note Making: Brain Exercise to Enhance Reading Comprehension Skills

Reading is a fundamental task and too many students are not demonstrating mastery of reading comprehension and inference skills. There are many books and tools teachers have relied on as they seek to provide the best reading comprehension strategies. The key to becoming a critical reader and enhancing the reading comprehension and inference skills is actually writing. Embedding writing as a critical reading tool can provide the magic most teachers seek when trying to enhance reading comprehension and inference. Note-making provides the reader with an opportunity to organize information and demonstrate the ability to evaluate various pieces of the literature. When students are provided a guide, the reader can better make sense of the text, increasing his or her ability to problem solve using prior knowledge and personal context.

One tool I have found to work extremely well to enhance student reading is a simple note-making guide. This tool works well for students while they read informational text, literature or while they are engaged in digital media. While students are engaged with informational text, they can curate key vocabulary, assess the main ideas of the text and generate the supporting details of the text. A note-making guide serves as a Swiss Army knife or plyometric exercise (allows muscles to exert maximum force in the shortest amount of time possible) for building strong reading comprehension, inference and vocabulary acquisition skills.

The goal of the note-making guide:

  • Enhance vocabulary acquisition skills
  • Find Main Ideas
  • Gather evidence/proof and details
  • Develop inference skills through interpretation of meaning
  • Develop 21st Century Skills (6 Pack)
  • Outline and develop formal persuasive essay

Download a sample of a note-making guide students can use in the classroom.

Students will be familiar with this concept from Facebook. They use note-making guides on Facebook on a daily basis. On a personal Facebook page a user will see the:

  1. Topic of page located at the top of the page
  2. Main ideas of the page located at the left column
  3. Supporting details of the page

Guest post by Randall G. Sampson, PhD, a former Technical Assistance Coach with KnowledgeWorks.

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6 thoughts on “Note Making: Brain Exercise to Enhance Reading Comprehension Skills

  1. Its nice to see more being written about the value of reading comprehension exercises in improving reading ability and overall aptitude. However, it is important to note that while they may be popular, not all reading comprehension exercises are created equal. Some do a good job of quizzing students on vocabulary or the information they have just read, but leave out what is arguably the most important ingredient: critical thinking. Critical thinking questions teach students to manipulate bits of information which can be used to formulate their own answer – one that may not be clearly outlined in the text .

  2. I BELIEVE THE STUDENTS SHOULD BE MADE TO WRITE SHORT NOTES ON REGULAR BASIS RIGHT FROM EARLY SCHOOL TIME. THIS WILL IMPROVE THEIR VOCABULORY ASWELL AS WRITING HABIT. THIS INTURN WILL MAKE THE STUDENTS TO READ, UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT AND THEN WRITE.

  3. Keepin it simple can make all the difference. Boosting adolescent literacy skills better prepares all students for post-secondary success.

  4. Nice use of a tool to help organize thought processes. Have you explored the use of more creative formats, such as SMART, mind mapping, etc? Also, how do outlining and reverse outlining stack up?

    1. SMART is a great format, please post/share your best links for everyone to use. Thanks for the enhancing the discussion :)

  5. I agree……reading and writing if even done using technology is a required skill and the foundation for student performance. To fast track a student you must first close the achievement gap with a singular focus on reading and comprehension. You must know the student’s lexile level and then put on a relentless full court press to improve their literacy. For quite some time I believed you could accomplish this goal with differentiated instruction and at the same time implement literacy strategies in a regular classroom while teaching the core curriculum……….while this should be done, my personal observations tells me it is not. So, I say define and group your low lexile readers and be intentional with teaching them reading, writing and comprehension skills.

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