The keys to becoming a successful reader in middle and high school include learning organization skills and sophisticated reading strategies.

Laura Hendrick, a literacy coach in Santa Rosa, CA advises:

1. Create an organization system at home. Keep binders neat and have a file for completed papers.

2. Practice reading. Read every day and particularly during the summer-the more practice the better; it doesn’t matter what genre you read, just make sure you are reading.

3. Reading tips for textbooks: Read questions at the end of the chapter first; use headings and subheadings as cues.

4. Spend time in middle school developing good reading strategies. When you get to high school, teachers are more likely to concentrate on the content rather than on developing reading skills.

In their book, Reading for Understanding: A Guide to Improving Reading in Middle and High School Classrooms , authors Ruth Schoenbach, Cynthia Greenleaf, Christine Cziko and Lori Hurwitz advise the following for students who get confused when reading a text:

1. Ignore the unclear part and read on to see if it gets clearer.
2. Reread the unclear part.
3. Reread the sentence(s) before the unclear part.
4. Try to connect the unclear part to something you already know.

Looking Back

Good writers are good readers. Nicholas Dietz, a high school student in San Francisco, sees the connection between reading and writing, and wishes he had learned these skills in middle school:

“Looking in hindsight at my high school transition, I realized that there were multiple academic areas that needed more preparation in middle school. The most underdeveloped skill I had coming into high school was writing. In middle school, I was only taught the basic thesis structure and five-paragraph format regarding essays. This however, proved to be an insufficient amount of knowledge as my essays freshman year were of average quality.

Now, after having learned how to make sentences flow smoother, provide ample evidence in my body paragraphs, and how to effectively open and close essays, my writing skill level has improved dramatically.

I would advise middle school teachers to give students a more in-depth idea of good writing skills. Specifically, they should teach students the various aspects of effective writing and demand more essays and essay-based tests out of the curriculum.”

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