Getting ready for middle and high school reading
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By GreatSchools Staff
What reading skills do middle- and high schoolers need?
As students advance through middle and high school, they transition from simple readers and stories to more difficult, content-rich materials including novels, plays, textbooks, laboratory manuals, and technical texts. In science classes students must learn how to read and write lab reports, while in history classes they must interpret historical documents and understand biographical information.
"They move from understanding the story in middle school to understanding the author's vision in high school," says Lance Balla, a high school English teacher in Bellevue, Wash., and consultant for the Educational Testing Service and the College Board. "A ninth-grader might read Romeo and Juliet and learn about it as a love story. In later years, they might look at what was Shakespeare's vision of love and how [it's] different from another author's. They might look at a concept and how different texts address it — for example, the idea of justice in Crime and Punishment versus Hamlet."
In upper grades, literacy skills and content knowledge become intertwined. Students must develop sophisticated writing and reading skills along the way in order to fully understand the content of their courses. For instance, they must learn how to interpret data from tables and diagrams as well as to predict what they might learn from a given text and connect it to what they've already read.
Wondering how to boost your children's reading skills? Review vocabulary with them; encourage them to keep a dictionary, thesaurus, or encyclopedia close by; and help them engage with the text by showing them how to take good notes and summarize the main points.