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Active Reading Strategies: Putting Action Into Thought

Heather Barikmo, Mary Nance-Tager

How can English language instructors be certain that their students are actively engaged during reading lessons?  Reading in an ESOL classroom can appear to be a passive activity, but teachers can use strategies to ensure that their students are cognitively and behaviorally active during the learning process.   Grounded in their belief that language is best taught through a multi-skill approach that combines careful instruction with deliberate practice of receptive and productive language skills, the presenters will discuss and demonstrate successful reading lessons for the ESOL classroom.  They will explore the connection between reading, writing, listening and speaking and help instructors to design lessons that promote active and engaged learning.  The need for controlled, guided, and open-ended activities will be discussed, as will the need for effective methods of assessment.  Best practices will be modeled so that participants can help their students build vocabulary, improve comprehension, and think critically in order to “go beyond the text” and develop increased autonomy in their reading.  Sample texts will include literary essays, graphic novels, news articles, short stories, novels, content-area textbooks, and poems.  Sample lessons will address visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles, and the activities presented will include vocabulary building games, note-taking exercises, jigsaw reading passages, cloze paragraphs, graphic organizers, and strip stories.  The presenters will also model techniques for setting up and monitoring students in individual, paired, and group activities and demonstrate ways to effectively facilitate class discussions.  Though these lessons were created for students at LaGuardia Community College, the techniques presented can be adapted for use in primary and secondary schools