Studying Texts the Internal and External Structures–Study Guides and Strategies

            I expect to learn from this chapter about text structure and some strategies for study and study guides. 

            In this chapter we learn that learning from text is something that happens inside a student’s head as they interact with the text.  The text advised that we can learn and teach students to work smart by using the organization of the text to discern the key information. 

            Using the external and internal structures of the text, students can organize the information and discern the major topics from the subtopic, the key points from the details.

            Using various strategies, students can organize, analyze and synthesize the information.  The process of doing this will help students work through the information in the text and get it straight in their minds.  Graphic organizers and various forms of note-taking and summarizing techniques will not only serve as study aids, but will also serve as a means to better understanding.

            Note taking and learning from text have always been a challenge for me.  I have often found that taking notes helps me remember the information I read or hear in lectures; however, my notes are usually horribly unorganized and I have rarely been able to use them effectively for study aids.

             In addition, it has not been a practice of mine to use the notes to help analyze the text.  So, the information in this chapter is new and exciting to me.  From reading the text, I have learned some valuable strategies that will help me in my learning and that I can pass down to my students to help them learn.

            Graphic organizers are something that I have been learning about since starting my teacher training.  The more I learn about them, the more I see the purpose and value of this type of strategy. 

            The information in the text about analyzing the internal structure features really helped me see how by looking at the organization of the information in the text, the reader can discern the best approach to organizing the information.  For example, the Venn diagram works really well in creating a visual representation of compare and contrast type information.  Likewise, flow charts provide an excellent structure to record processes.  Helping students to look at the structure and use it to discern how to record the information really is teaching them to work smart. 

            I liked the idea of teaching signal words to help students to determine the structure being used.  I was recently working with a 1st grade girl on her grammar homework.  She was to mark sentences as present, future or past tense.  Her worksheet provided examples.  As she read the sentences, she was sometimes able to pick up from the context whether it was past, future or present, but when I drew her attention to the examples and told her to look for clues like -s, -ed, or will, the information suddenly clicked.  I can see the same happening for students when they learn to look for signal words in the text. 

            The organizers for problem and solution, cause and effect and series of events in a chain were new to me.  These will be very helpful in the social studies discipline.               The information on writing summaries was also very helpful.  It is a skill that needs to be learned.  I have been learning this mostly through trial and error and repetition.  As I have more subjects I have to study, I want to record less superficial information as I learn.  I laughed a bit when the text described the naïve learner who writes down everything.  I am still on the naïve learner end of the spectrum. 

            As I continue in my studies, much of my summarizing gets shorter, but still in subjects that are new and difficult for me, I have trouble drawing out the essential information.  That is why I really like the strategies for learning to summarize.  I particularly liked the one where students created an organizer with their first recollections on one side of a paper and then added or corrected information on the other side and wrote their summary from that organizer.  I also like the idea that summaries should go through rough draft, edit and final copy stages.

            The information on creating study guides is also something I will keep for a reference.  I really like the idea of using study guides to help students be accountable for the reading and to draw key points from text.  This part of the chapter gave some really good strategies to make study guides more meaningful.  I think by incorporating the use of graphic organizers and strategies like the cause and effect questions shown in the text into study guides, students can not only learn more from their independent reading, but also see some models and get a little practice with some of the strategies being taught. 

            I am planning to keep this text as a reference to draw on when I begin teaching.  I am hoping to be able to teach students how to use the text and work smart as I teach content.


About susanm2012

I am a teacher licensure candidate at University of St. Thomas. This blog is an assignment in my Reading for 5-12 students.
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