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Hacking Reading Comprehension: The summary so far
Back again.. I’ve got one thing to add to finish off my mini-series of Hacking Reading Comprehension.
I started out by discussing some of the reasons why you might need to hack reading comprehension and when you should use my non-scientific list. One of these reasons was that you might need to familiarise your learners with the kinds of questions they are going to face in more formal testing situations.
My basic idea is that you should analyse the structure of the questions that your learners are going to face and then adapt this structure to your own context and content.
This would then mean that your learners would get the benefit of practising really relevant reading comprehension questions written by you in the style of the formal assessment, but narrowly focused on your subject matter.
This is not teaching to the test, but teaching your subject matter while you familiarise your learners with certain question formats.
The reading hacks list
I then posted my list of hacks. I think I’ve added one more since the other day. These are in no particular order and it’s a work in process. But, in short, you can write questions that ask learners to identify any of these:
- An object
- A person or people
- A time
- A unit of measurement
- A suggestion, recommendation, or advice
- An action
- A location or place
- The meaning of a word, sentence, or paragraph
- If something is true or correct
- A reason or cause
- A solution to a problem
- The correct second half of a statement
- A summary or the gist of something
- A step or steps in a process
- Typography or formatting
- The purpose of a text
- A particular situation or state
To infer or not
You also have to decide if the answers to your questions require one of the these:
- Finding or understanding information that is explicit in the text. In other words, you can read through and find the answer.
- Inferring an answer. Inferencing makes the question more complex. You have to “read between the lines” in order to answer the question. In other words, the answer is not explicit in the text.
I suggested that you keep things simple by sticking to a very minimal set of response types. This is to make it easy for you to design your questions, and to make it relatively straightforward if you are going to be using a digital learning platform of some kind. My preferred answer responses were something like this:
- Multiple choice. Let’s say with four options (e.g. A, B, C, D).
- Forced choice. This is the Yes/No, True/False style of question.
- Underline or circle.
All of these response types place minimal demands on learners with low literacy skills especially with regards to writing. The last thing we want to do is invalidate our assessments due to making it a test of writing proficiency rather than reading comprehension.
Other standard expressions for designing questions
To finish this off, I want to add another set of words… actually more a set of standard phrases or expressions to use. Again, this is not an exhaustive list and you can probably think of other variations. But you may be able to use these as sentence starters for some of your questions. Use judiciously.
Referring to the text.
Text here can be replaced with a word or words for the actual kind of text, e.g. an advertisement, notice, article, memo.
- According to the text, …
- Look at X, …
- This text is for people who…
- According to the text, …
- The purpose of this text is to…
- What does the text say about…
- What is this text about?
For vocabulary in particular
- Which word means…
- What does “X” mean?
- “X” means…
- What does the word “X” mean here?
As a way of introducing a question
- Quote a chunk of the text first.
- Refer to a particular paragraph (e.g. “In paragraph 4…”) or give some other marker that points people to a location in the text (e.g. “In the first ad…”, “at the end of the page…”, “In the first sentence, …”
- Give the first half of a statement or sentence. Multiple choice answers then need to contain four possibilities for the second half, one of which is correct of course (e.g. “To XYZ you need to…”
- Direct attention to something in particular (e.g. “Read the information about employment contracts”)
Also, don’t forget all the standard question words:
And for modifying your questions so they require inferencing use these words or expressions:
- It is implied in the text that…
- What do you think…
- … probably…
- … possibly…
Of course it is entirely possible to construct inferencing questions without using these kinds of words or phrases. You just have to pick response items that require a further step in thinking that is not supplied explicitly in the text.
I’m also playing around with a form for designing your own questions. Current prototype looks something like this. Tell me in the comments what you think.
Reading Between the Lines – The Secret Guide to Hack Reading & Listening Comprehension
Discover how to hack reading and listening comprehension so that you can check if people really understand what the hell it is you’re saying
I can show you how to hack reading and listening comprehension. This will help you if you are a teacher, trainer, course writer or salesperson who relies on content.
Once you’ve been through this guide you will understand:
- How to write assessment items for any reading or spoken text
- How to structure your questions or assessment items so that they are easy to use with online platforms that allow you to write self-marking quizzes
- The difference between a question that relies on explicit knowledge versus a question that requires the reader to “infer” the answer
Most online courses are rubbish. They’re just an information dump. The same thing happens with classroom and online teaching. If you want your people to actually learn your content or you care about whether they understand what you’re saying to them, then this is for you. You can read more here.
CHECK OUT READING BETWEEN THE LINES: THE SECRET STEP BY STEP GUIDE BY GRAEME SMITH
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Literacy & Numeracy – It’s Not Rocket Science
Learn the fundamentals of literacy and numeracy with Graeme Smith
Discover how to be more successful in your teaching journey. I’ll introduce and explain some of the fundamentals of adult literacy and numeracy.
Once you’ve finished reading, you will have a better understanding of the basics including how to integrate or embed literacy and numeracy into your teaching. This includes with technical and vocational education. You can read more here.
Now bundled wth two free printable resources – a place value chart and hundreds grid.
CHECK OUT LITERACY AND NUMERACY: IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE BY GRAEME SMITH
Click the link below to find out more about Literacy and Numeracy: It’s Not Rocket Science.
The Educator Entrepreneur – Don’t Bring a Whiteboard Marker to a Knife Fight
Learn how to think like an Entrepreneur with Graeme Smith
Education is a tough business to work in. And that’s true regardless of whether you are a teacher, a trainer or any kind of specialist educator. But what if you’re a business owner AS WELL…!
If you’re like me, most days you’re probably pretty excited about what you do. But some days… Some days I can’t understand why anyone would want to work in education. But I learned to survive and thrive and you can too. Teach yourself a lesson and start thinking like an entrepreneur. Read more here
CHECK OUT THE EDUCATOR ENTREPRENEUR – DON’T BRING A WHITEBOARD MAKER TO A KNIFE FIGHT BY GRAEME SMITH
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Discover time-honoured approaches to learner-centred teaching
What if I told you that there were time-honoured approaches to teaching and learning you can use to create the conditions for learning success. Imagine if your teaching really connected with your learners… What if your classroom or training environment was a place where your learners felt like they belonged and wanted to learn?
Here’s a secret. It’s totally possible if you discover and embrace time-honoured concepts from Te Ao Māori – the Māori world. This book is for you if you want to teach or train in a way that is more learner-centred or if you want to learn to think in a more holistic way. Read more here
CHECK OUT WHAT IS LEARNER-CENTRED TEACHING? 12 CONCEPTS FROM TE AO MĀORI YOU SHOULD EMBRACE TO CREATE LEARNING SUCCESS BY GRAEME SMITH
Click the link below to find out more about What is Learner-Centred? 12 Concepts from Te Ao Māori You Should Embrace to Create Learning Success
Three Simple Approaches You Need for Learner-Centred Teaching
Find out more about three of the fundamentals of adult teaching
Have you ever thought about how to improve your teaching? Have you ever wondered what it takes to create learner success in any teaching environment? Well, you need three things. Make that four things… You need to:
- Understand what people mean when they talk about “learner-centred” teaching.
- Know how to leverage your learners’ prior knowledge.
- Have simple ways of increasing the motivation of your students.
- Know what learner agency is and how to develop it.
Read more here.
CHECK OUT THREE SIMPLE APPROACHES YOU NEED FOR LEARNER-CENTRED TEACHING BY GRAEME SMITH
Click the link below to find out more about Three Simple Approaches You Need for Learner Centred Teaching – Proven Ways to Use Prior Knowledge, Increase Motivation and Develop Learner Agency to Pave the Road to Learning Success
How To Not Suck At Writing More Than 280 Characters
Learn strategies taught in university and college writing courses
So you can write 280 characters. So can a lot of people. But what happens beyond that? What happens if you want – or have to – write something longer?
This is where it gets tricky for some. Discover you you can write long-form content like blog posts, articles and books. Read More Here
CHECK OUT HOW TO NOT SUCK AT WRITING MORE THAN 280 CHARACTERS BY GRAEME SMITH
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