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Approaches to Reading
Transcript of Approaches to Reading
Ways into Texts:
Interrogate the text with W/H questions:
What When Where Why Who How
Focus your attention on core elements of a text:
ction and Plot,
ssues and conflicts
and don't forget to explore the
Analysing the themes in a text helps us to make connections between events and experiences. We can see a repeated idea or message in the text and think about our own lives too. What is the central idea the author is working with? What lasting idea does he or she want to leave with us?
Common themes include: love, birth and death, friendship, choices, adolescence and growth.
For a list of 101 book themes visit:
Options for Reading Programs at home:
For those of you who are interested, here are two respected 'graded reading programs' that you could consider beginning with your child at home. You can assess your child's reading level on the tests these sites provide and then purchase some books at your child's reading grade. I have used both of these programs in other schools with some success.
Student Homepage: http://www.penguinreaders.com/students-main.html
There is no need for you to tell anyone your child's level and this is not part of the SWIS curriculum, so for that reason children must not cheat and should not study for the test! The aim of these tests is simply for you and your child to be able to choose books at the appropriate level for him or her.
A word of caution. Many of the books are abridged (shortened and simplified from the original version of the book). Some people don't agree with this type of reading because they believe students should enjoy the richness of the original text. I can appreciate both arguments. I can see that for many students and families they like to feel a sense of progression and like to participate in a graded program. Others believe it is better to read purely for enjoyment because the love of reading about topics that interests us motivates us to read. You can decide what is best for your family I'm simply providing this as an option for you to consider.
If this proves popular we can look at implementing it as part of a formal program at SWIS or we can consider having parents lead the program as a large scale reading project.
Let me know if you end up using either of the programs and what you think of them. If you need help with this let me know.
Symbols and Motifs
Symbols are images, people, animals or events that represent an idea. A motif is a reoccurring symbol. Pay close attention to when and how the symbols or motifs occur. This will tell you what they represent in the story. Some common symbols and their meanings include:
Birds can represent freedom
Doves can mean peace
Shattered glass can represent a broken relationship
Cats can signify mystery, a black cat foreboding
A city can represent civilization, a decrepit city can signify a breakdown in society
Fire can symbolize anger
Snakes can mean danger
Water can symbolize life
A mirror can represent self reflection, self analysis or magic
More suggestions can be found at
Where and when does the story occur?
Is there anything interesting about the setting?
Choose one of the settings and describe it.
Why did the author choose that setting?
Is there a connection between the setting and the events that happen?
Describe some of the important settings in the text
Find quotes that describe the setting
Is there any relevant social or historical knowledge we need to understand about the text?
Why did the author choose this setting?
In what ways does the character grow? Why?
What does the character learn?
Describe how the character handle conflict.
Explain how you connect to the character. In what ways are you similar?
Step by step analysis of a text:
ction and Plot
What happens in the story?
List the important events in order that they occur.
What was the most interesting event that happened? Why do you think it is interesting?
Draw a story board with images that represent the main events.
What events changed the character? How and why?
Write a chapter summary.
Which events are connected - did one event cause another? Explain
What do the events tell us about human nature?
Are there any events that could have been avoided? What are they and how/why? Write an alternative outcome.
Extra Curricular Reading
making sense, decoding,
coming to an understanding.
any thing that can be interpreted or read. Texts communicate ideas. Texts include: short stories, poems, novels, speeches, scripts, images, films and physical spaces.
Motivations to read:
improves general knowledge
develops our critical thinking skills
gives us strategies to respond
to life experiences
builds friendships and connection across generations and with readers all over the world
improves our grammar
helps us to reflect on our own beliefs and values
helps to improve conversation skills - we have more to talk about!
Helps us connect the themes of our lives and our society to those of others
helps us relax
Who are the most important characters?
Who are the lesser characters?
Make a list of adjectives to describe the character/s
Choose one adjective and list reasons why it fits the character (ie "kind" - 'Jenny helps Marla after the accident.')
Describe the main characters:
What do they look like?
What do they like or dislike? Why?
What do their actions reveal about them?
What do they say?
What is the main character's personality like?
Choose some quotes that describe a character's appearance
Choose a quote that shows the character's personality
Describe the ways in which the environment where the events occur is similar to your own home or a place you know?
How is it different?
How does the setting help to tell the story?
What do you wish the character would say or do differently?
What happened before the story begins?
What is the genre of the text?
Does the author use present or past tense?
Is the story written from first, second or third person perspective? How does that influence the reader?
What words does the author use to convey ideas?
Analyze a passage that describes a character or event. What are the most striking words?
Identify the literary techniques in a passage
Copy the author's writing style to produce your own text in the same style
Find a description of a place or person in the text and illustrate or paint it
Photocopy a passage and produce a spider collage (Ms Harmony will show you how)
ssues and Conflicts:
List the problems or conflicts that occur in the text.
Describe the difficulties the characters have to overcome.
What are the solutions or outcomes of the problems?
Is there any problem that is unresolved at the end of the text? Explain.
What can you learn by reflecting on how the character/s respond to the problems?
Make a 'cause and effect' chart (discuss with Ms Harmony)
Why did the conflicts occur?
Describe an event from a different character's perspective.
How would you have responded to the conflicts differently?
In what ways does the author show rather than "tell" (discuss with Ms Harmony)
Samples of student work
Please check this space again in 1-2 months
Dear SWIS MYP Students and Parents,
I made this Prezi to help guide our kids to "interrogate" the texts they read at home and as part of the English curriculum at SWIS. Students can ask these questions as they read novels, short stories, drama scripts and poems.
Ms Harmony (AKA Ms K)
ask, answer, do...
Which IB learner profile descriptors match the main character? Justify your opinion using quotes from the novel