Literacy Tips

No one taught me anything, I learnt it all myself!
Did you know that the best teacher you will ever meet is yourself?

High Reliability Literacy Teaching Procedures. (By John Munro)
Get some good habits established in your learning.
Below are 7 steps that successful learners do to remember new information. You may have your own techniques on how to remember new words and learn new information.

  1. Get your knowledge ready
  2. Learn new words and phrases
  3. Read aloud short portions of the written text that teaches the topic
  4. Paraphrase or say the text in your own words
  5. Say questions that each sentence in the text will answer
  6. Summerise the text, usually paragraph by paragraph
  7. Consolidate your learning by writing a summary of the content in your own words

Share your techniques with your classmates. How much time are you spending at home to improve your English? How do you keep track of new words? What do you find difficult about learning in a different language?

Below are some notes from the teachers at Kingsbury P.S.. They have been involved in teaching using these methods and all of the students have found them very helpful in understanding texts.

Having a method to reading a text will help you to extract more meaning from the text when you read.
At first this might slow you down but these skills will be useful for you even in university. Learning to ask questions, recognise key words, paraphrase and summarise will help you look at words on a page and turn them into knowledge that belongs to you.

Getting Knowledge Ready means:

  • Thinking about a new topic or text
  • Finding out what we already know
  • Visualising (making a picture or movie) in our heads
  • Relating what we already know to topic or text

When you get your knowledge ready ask:

  • Why are we reading this text?
  • What do I already know about this text or topic?
  • Can I look at the title and subheadings of the text and guess what the text is about?
  • Can I skim and scan the paragraphs?
  • What do the pictures and illustrations tell me?
  • Can I imagine or visualize (create a picture in my mind) a key idea, event or topic?
  • What questions will it answer?

To learn new words:

  • Highlight or underline the new words and put them in a glossary
  • Say spell and provide a synonym for each word
  • Link the word with other words that you know
  • Use the words and new ideas in full sentences

Learning new vocabulary will help:

  • Read words accurately
  • Understand what is being said
  • Improve spelling
  • Improve vocabulary
  • Learn more about the topic you are learning.

Reading aloud
Reading aloud is important because it helps you

  • Understand the text better
  • Hearing the pronunciation of the words helps with the meaning
  • Practise converting letter strings into words
  • Convert a text into images or actions
  • Learn and use sentence templates

What should you be thinking and doing while reading?

  • Recognise letter patterns (retrieve sounds) e.g. late, date, mate, crate
  • Practice pronouncing unfamiliar words
  • Self-correct pronunciation
  • Run your finger along the text to guide your reading
  • Use your finger to segment or break up the text
  • Pause at any point and try to think about what happened and try to predict

When I read the text aloud

  • Can I sound out the words I have difficulty reading?
  • Can I identify the topic sentence from each paragraph?
  • Can I find the key ideas and words in a paragraph?
  • Can I use self-talk to work out the meanings of new words and the text.

What is self-talk?
Self-talk is stopping and thinking of ways to find an answer before asking a teacher.
Ask yourself:

  • What could it/does the word/text mean?
  • Are there smaller words within the word?
  • Can I think of synonyms?
  • Do the synonyms fit/ make sense?
  • Can I look at the words around it?
  • Do I need to re-read or read on?
  • What other words look or sound like this word?
  • What pictures does this word bring up in my head?

Say questions the text answers

  • What would I like to know about the text?
  • What questions do I think the text will answer?
  • Can I ask about who what when where why?
  • What is the purpose of asking questions?
  • Helps you to analyse the sentence
  • Encourages you to be more active readers
  • Builds skills in answering questions
  • Makes you a better reader
  • Helps you break up a text

Paraphrasing: Why is it important?

  • Develops and reinforces understanding of the text
  • Helps with your expression and grammar
  • Builds and reinforces grammar
  • Builds and reinforces vocabulary
  • A necessary building block for summarising

How do you paraphrase?

  1. Visualise (build an image) of the sentence
  2. Change words (Synonyms)
  3. Re-arrange the word order in the sentences
  4. Re-arrange the sentences
  5. Match paraphrased sentences
  6. Consider the context (don’t change the meaning)

Why is summarising important?

  • Shows understanding
  • Higher order thinking
  • Engagement with the text
  • Links knowledge

What do you do to make an effective summary?

  • Select main ideas
  • Categorise ideas
  • Delete unnecessary details
  • State the general idea

How do I write a good summary?
You need to:

  • Skim and scan a paragraph at a time
  • Read the whole paragraph carefully
  • Highlight the topic sentence of a paragraph
  • Write the topic sentence or heading for a paragraph
  • Underline the key words/ list the key words
  • Link key words into meaningful sentences
  • Say in one sentence what the paragraph is about or what students know after having read it
  • Say the main question a paragraph answers
  • Reduce the content of the original text

Review and Consolidate

  • Do you know the purpose of what the text was? Why did the author write this?
  • What did I learn from this text?
  • Can I compare the outcomes with my earlier predictions?
  • Can I remember all the key words, themes and ideas quickly?
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