Sunday, June 24, 2012

Reading in the Content Areas

Note: Normally, I do not publish my blog, English Updates, on weekends. However, I publish several other blogs during the week having to do with ideas in English education that are not current, but still useful. On weekends, I will publish samples of these ideas. RayS.
Question: How can students assess ahead of time the difficulties they will face with a content reading assignment?

Answer: The authors use an acronym, FLIP as a method for assessing the difficulties—or the readiness to read—an assignment in a discipline.

F – Friendliness—how friendly is my reading assignment? Does it contain the following features? Table of contents; chapter introductions; margin notes; key terms highlighted; pictures; index; headings; study questions; graphs; signal words; glossary; subheadings; chapter summary; charts; lists of key facts. The student then rates the “friendliness” of the text from 1 to 5, from (1) “boring” to (5)“friendly.” If there are some “friendly” features, they should rate it “3.”

L – Language: How difficult is the language in my reading assignment? “(5) means there are no new words and mostly clear sentences and (1) means there are many new words and complicated sentences.”

I – Interest—how interesting is my reading assignment? “Here students read the assignment’s title, introduction, headings and subheadings and summary and examine its pictures and graphics. A ranking of (5) would suggest that the student finds the assignment very interesting; (1) would suggest that the assignment seems boring.”

P –Prior Knowledge—what do I already know about the material covered in my reading assignment? “The quick survey completed during the ‘I’ step should let readers determine if they have prior knowledge of the assignment’s subject matter. A rating of (5) here means the reader has a great deal of prior knowledge about the topic, while (1) is fitting if the reader has never heard the information before.”

Comment: An excellent method for “previewing” a reading assignment in a content discipline. I wish I had known about this technique when I was teaching. Would give the teacher a clear understanding of students’ readiness for reading an assignment. Also tells the students a great deal about the nature of the text. RayS.

 Title: “FLIP: A Framework for Content Area Reading.” JS Schumm and CT Mangrum. Journal of Reading (October 1991), 120-124.

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