A slab of text can be daunting for many students. Students who have additional academic needs or have difficulty concentrating may need support to access and retain meaning acquired through text.
Finding ways to break text down without having to ‘water it down’ can make literacy tasks much more accessible:
- Provide more ‘white space’ around the paragraphs to prevent students from being visually overwhelmed.
- Pose a question at the end of each paragraph to reiterate the main idea of the text. This could also be in the form of True or False questions.
- Include synonyms between paragraphs for students to re-examine key words and accentuate their meaning.
- Place the topic sentence in bold or have students highlight it using underlining or highlighter pens.
- Include graphics with captions as another means of focusing the students on the main idea.
- Encourage inference. Rewrite a statement and ask the students if they feel that the author would agree. Have them underline the evidence from the text to support their conclusion.
- Provide mnemonic opportunities. In factual texts, key information may be broken into an acronym or sentence to serve as a memory aid.
- Encourage students to contribute to a graphic organiser, outline or flowchart as a way of summarising information.
- Include a glossary where student use context clues to define key words.
- Break the text into a summary written on sentence strips. Students refer to the text to place the notes in sequence and paste into books as a means of taking notes.
There are numerous opportunities for students to access text more efficiently without too much additional preparation prior to a lesson. Remember that collaborative activities, issuing reading material prior to a lesson, jigsaw tasks and SLSO support may all be very effective.