Monday, October 19, 2009
Courtney Dressler's Important Reading
Although I have always considered myself an avid highlighter, it has not been until recently that I believe I have been highlighting the “right” information. We have all been taught that when we come across important, relevant, or informational ideas or statements in a text we should somehow mark it so that the information will be useful in the future. But do students really know what they should be looking for? Today, for instance, in one of my courses, we used a simple piece of text to understand how children look for and comprehend information depending on what their teachers ask of them. For example, if a student were reading for “big ideas,” the highlighted information would differ from if a student were reading for “specific examples,” “names of characters,” or “chronological events.” In short, while reading I must remember what I am looking for in order to find “what is important.” Take, for instance, that I am reading an assigned reading for a course this semester on children’s literature. Although the passage is sure to have an abundance of useful information and activities that I could apply to my class, I make sure to only highlight “big concepts” such as vocabulary or generalizations along with any activities that I hope to refer back to in the future. In order to successfully do this, while I read I have a constant and repetitive internal conversation taking place in my mind: “Will I need to know this information 2 weeks from now? A year from now? Will it be applicable during discussions, activities, and assignments? Do I find the information interesting and useful for my future as a teacher?” All of these internal questions help me to recognize, what I find to be, relevant information in the text. But although these are the questions I ask while reading, I firmly believe that what people find “important” and “useful” in a text varies from individual to individual.