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Middle and High School Reading: Tips for Students

Teachers and a high school student give practical advice for becoming a successful reader in middle and high school.

By GreatSchools Staff

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."

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

11/10/2011:
"All i wanted to say was this article was really helpful to me. I am a formal student at a high school and I just wanted extra information so that I can get better grades even though I have good grades so far such as A's. I thought that this article was very helpful and I will share this with my freinds. "
08/22/2011:
"After several attempts with my 2 daughters to encourage the reading, this summer I found a way and it really worked! Since English is not her first language I tried to find books that appeal to their age, and besides the book I also got the cd books, audio books or playaway from the local library. When it was reading time I simply play the cd on their room and then they listen to the person narrating the story while they read the books. This I did so that they can improve pronunciation of new words and also helped with the pace of reading, so that they can get a good rhythm. This method actually made them read a lot more books than I expected. It really worked for me I hope this can be helpful to someone else. "
07/25/2011:
"Help What Homework "
08/19/2009:
"A great way for kids to develop a reading habit is through modeling. Teachers model the desired behavior in class. Parents can do the same. If you want your child to read, turn off the TV and have an assigned reading time when everyone in the family is reading. It is hard at first but if you get in the habit of doing it, it will work. Be patient! Good luck"
08/11/2009:
"I need help I have a 14 yr old who does not like reading and gets frusturated at school and at home when is asked to read. He has always had reading resource and I thought it was helping but come to find out they were just passing him along. I dont know what to do this will be his freshman year and he really struggles with reading. I think he is on a 4th grade reading level. Im a single mom of 5 children. What should I do? I'm very concerned about his future."
07/7/2009:
"wow it's hard"
04/24/2009:
"good info, i guess"
04/2/2009:
"Good Guide"
07/24/2008:
"I need HELP!!! I have a 12 year old grand daughter that I am raising, and she HATES to read--even though her skills academically have been way above the average, and she doesn't have eyesight problems. How can I get her to see the importance of reading. I have tried everything!! From getting her books, to having HER pick the book, getting her books on her favorite subjects and hobbies, etc Help!!!"
07/7/2008:
"I really enjoyed reading this"
07/27/2007:
"we have just moved from india with our now going to 6th grade daughter. Teachers telling the stuendts to 'read read read through the summer' etc made no real sense as to why but now it does.this is an education system which is different than back home.thanks. "
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