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Teaching and Learning

Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Reading Workbooks  >  High School
Four Reading Strategies for High School Students
By Kathie Steele, Chugiak High School

Qualities of Best Practice in Teaching Reading

  1. Reading means getting meaning from print.
  2. Reading is a process.
  3. Hearing books read aloud is the beginning of learning to read.
  4. Beginning reading instruction should provide children with many opportunities to interact with print.
  5. Reading is the best practice for learning to read.
  6. An effective reading program exposes students to a wide and rich array of print and goes beyond the use of the basal.
  7. Choice is an integral part of literate behavior.

1. Knowledge Chart

Before reading a text, students fill the blanks in the chart below with the main topic of their reading. Students then briefly list the things they already know about the topic, writing them down in short phrases. After reading the text, students then fill the second column with the new facts they learned from their reading.

Prior Knowledge about ___________

New knowledge about ____________











2. Herringbone Pattern

The Herringbone Pattern is used for synthesizing information after pre-reading, or skimming, a chapter. Pre-reading is an important tool for understanding what each reading is going to be about, what the main ideas are going to be, and for getting a general idea of what will be discussed in each reading. When students take the time to pre-read they are better prepared to read and understand the information presented in a text.

Give students a short amount of time to skim a chapter, and then have them fill the Herringbone Pattern with the main ideas of the chapter, including: What is the main idea? Who is speaking? Who is the reading talking about? When did this occur? Where did it occur? How was it brought into being? Why was it done this way? Students write phrases answering these questions on the diagonal lines designated by each question. Notice that in the center of the Herringbone Pattern is "Main Idea," which is what each "W" question should refer back to.

herringbone pattern

3. Story Map

The Story Map is a great way to get the main ideas or events of a novel into a usable form on paper. Students write the name of the novel at the top of the page, and the title of each chapter on the top of each box. Then, after reading each chapter, students fill the chapter box with information to remind them of what occurred or was covered in the chapter. Students may write an important word, a statement, a short summary, or draw a picture. Use the Story Map for textbooks too: Write the name of the chapter at the top, and use a box for each section, labeling them with the section headings found in the text.

Title of Chapter One ____________

In this box, to remember the main points of this chapter:

  • Draw a picture,
  • Write a few words of summary, or
  • Write a statement.

Title of Chapter Two ____________

In this box, to remember the main points of this chapter:

  • Draw a picture,
  • Write a few words of summary, or
  • Write a statement.

Title of Chapter Three ____________

In this box, to remember the main points of this chapter:

  • Draw a picture,
  • Write a few words of summary, or
  • Write a statement.

Title of Chapter Four ____________

In this box, to remember the main points of this chapter:

  • Draw a picture,
  • Write a few words of summary, or
  • Write a statement.

4. Two-Column Notes

Two-Column Notes are a terrific way to teach students to create organized notes that can be used as a study tool later. This type of note taking can be used both when reading textbooks and when taking notes from a lecture on any subject.

Students create Two-Column Notes by folding each piece of notebook paper so the right edge is lined up with the left lined margin. This leaves a smaller side on the left and more room for notes and sketches on the right.

Key ideas are written on the left of the margin with explanations written on the right.

Once the notes have been written, students can fold the right side of the paper back over to the left margin, leaving only the key words on the left exposed. Students can then study for tests alone, defining the terms and then lifting the right side of the page to check their answers.

Hints for Two-Column Notes

  • Include the title and the date
  • List main ideas, topics, and key words on the left
  • List information and/or subtopics on the right
  • Indent subtopics and leave plenty of extra space
  • Use only words and phrases
  • Use abbreviations when appropriate
  • Make notes neat and complete

Example of two-column notes


Title: Maps

a map

  • - picture of an area
    • - shows where things are located
    • - uses special marks and symbols
  • - design depends on purpose

political map

  • shows earth divided into countries, states
    • indicates capitals and major cities
  • uses different sizes of type for rivers, lakes, cities, etc.

About the Author: Kathie Steele has a Master's degree in Reading K-12 and has taught in the Anchorage School District for the last 5 years. She is currently the Reading Coordinator for Chugiak High School.

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