Reading is exercise for our mind, and professional brain athletes say it’s important to warm up before reading, and cool down afterward—just like with other exercises. Share the following exercises with your students to help their brains from feeling stiff in the morning, and—more importantly—is proven to help them remember what they read!
1. Before you read: Warm up your brain by quickly looking over the section you’re going to read. Check out …
- What are the titles and headings about?
- How long are the sections?
- Are there any pictures or charts? If so, what are they about?
- Also, ask yourself: What do you already know about this topic? Now that you’ve scanned the titles and headings, what new information do you think you’ll be learning?
2. As you read: Pace your brain.
- Read just a short piece at a time if it’s something new or difficult, or if you have to get all the details. If it’s easier, or if you just need the overall idea, you can tackle longer sections at a time.
- Stop after every paragraph or section, and try to say what the main point or information was. Put it in your own words, and keep it short!
- Having trouble figuring out the main idea? Re-read the first sentence, and scan the rest. Also, think about what came right before that paragraph or section.
3. After you read: Cool off; think back! In your own words, sum up what the whole section or chapter was about. Try it in your head, out loud, or on paper—whatever works best for you. Remember, focus on the main ideas only.
Big words: don’t let them scare you off!
Try these strategies to figure out words you don’t know.
1. Guess from the context (the rest of the sentence or paragraph).
The malevolent old woman poisoned Snow White’s apple.
After reading the whole sentence, what do you think malevolent might mean?
2. Break up the word.
Reactivate the alarm.
What pieces of words do you see in reactivate?
What do you think reactivate might mean?
3. Grab a dictionary.
Keep one handy as you read—or look online (with an adult)!
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