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How Do You Get Students to Read the Textbook!!



Does anyone have science students who will freely read their textbook?

In my many years of teaching school, one of the things I have struggled with the most is how to get my students to read their textbook.  Most are content to "get by" with the notes they take in class.  When test day arrives, the student is hoping to score big just because they listened in class, or took a few notes each day.  Many are disappointed in their test grade, and will quickly tell you, "I studied for this test!!"  (We really have to teach them what "studying" means!)  

I feel that my job as a teacher is two-fold:  
1.   Teach a great, fun, and interesting Biology class.
2.   Teach my students how to be great students.

So when the student wants to know what it takes to get an "A" in my class, I tell them this:
1.  Listen in class attentively each day.
2.  Ask good questions.
3.  Take notes during class.
4.  Do your homework every night.
5.  Study for a short amount of time each night, rather than cramming the night before the test.

And the one that is the topic of this blog article.....
6.  Read your textbook!!

This year I have been determined to get my students to read the chapters of their textbook.  I have put together "Chapter Reading Guides" for each chapter of the text.

These "Chapter Reading Guides" are given out on the first day of a new chapter.  The handouts consist of pictures that need to be labeled, questions to answer, graphs to interpret, etc.  As the student reads the chapter, he/she will fill in this reading guide.  Reading guides are due on test day, and a "nicely completed" reading guide earns the student extra credit points on my test.   If a student does not complete it, they will lose points on my test.

I have refined the system over the last few months.  
1.  The reading guide needs to look fun and attractive.  You don't want for it to become a task that the student dreads.
2.  Include a variety of question types.  Some questions can be "Define this term", but other questions need to be "What do you think....."
3.  Do not make the reading guide a substitute for taking good notes in class.  If a student does not take good notes in my class, the reading guide will not provide enough information for them to score well on my test.

The lessons I have learned from this?
1.   It takes a LONG time to make these out for each chapter.  But once they are done, you can use them year after year.
2.   My test grades have definitely improved.  It is a win-win situation for the students.  Completing the chapter reading guide earns them extra credit points, and in the process they are studying, thinking and analyzing.  Even if no extra credit point were awarded, test grades would be higher because they spent the time reading their textbook.

This is just one system that has worked for me.  If you have ideas or tips for getting your students to read the text, I would love to learn from you.  Leave a comment with your tip!

Happy Teaching!!

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I think one of the reasons kids struggle with reading textbooks is that they don't know how to navigate the text. It's important that we teach the text structure and teach kids how to find the answers to questions in the text.

❀Lisa
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