Increase Your Nonfiction Comprehension | Rebecca Lowery | Skillshare

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Increase Your Nonfiction Comprehension

teacher avatar Rebecca Lowery, Christian, Wife, Mother, Teacher

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

4 Lessons (31m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Toolbox

    • 3. Reading & Writing

    • 4. The Tools I Used

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About This Class

If you were assigned difficult reading or you need to learn about a recent diagnosis by reading the latest medical research and are struggling to understand it - no matter your motivation for tackling laborious text - don't worry! As a reading and writing teacher, the struggle is not my main concern, my main concern is giving my students the tools to be successful. I recently learned that I too struggle through certain text, and once I pulled out those tools I've been teaching my students to use, I was able to overcome my confusion. This class will do the same for you.

Meet Your Teacher

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Rebecca Lowery

Christian, Wife, Mother, Teacher


In 2007 I graduated from Doane College certified to teach English/Language Arts. That same year I met my husband Kyle and moved four hours away from him to teach in a small town Nebraska school. A year and a half later we were engaged and found ourselves in our pastor's office where he presented the gospel, leaving us forever changed. Since then I graduated with a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction, taught a reading class in a Title 1 school, coached, had two baby girls, and left the classroom to become a stay-at-home mom - haha, where my real education began! That was six years ago already and since then I've pursued every avenue possible to continue my love of teaching while soaking up these precious first years with the little people God has put in my life. To l... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hello. I am Rebecca Lowery, certified to teach seven through 12 grade English language arts with a master's degree in curriculum and instruction. I am currently pursuing a reading specialist degree while also teaching my B two beautiful girls to read and tutoring struggling readers and writers on short reading and writing is my passion. My life's work revolves around this vital skill, which is why I decided to share what I know here because I'm finding that comprehension skills are not just limited to my young people. In fact, um, once adults to find out that I specialize in reading, they asked all kinds of questions, especially when it comes to text that exists to inform or describe. I've had adults ask for consultation on how to read their business ethics textbook, or how to better understand the reading portion of their upcoming G R E test. And even for tips on how to better understand their daily Bible. Reading questions in regards to comprehension is not uncommon, which is why I began each of my classes and every one of my tutoring sessions. With this speech, all readers struggle, even good readers struggle. I am not at all worried about the struggle. What I am worried about is what you do with the struggle. So I'm going to give you a set of tools that you can apply to moments when you're reading and realize that you're confused. Please, please, please, please, please remember this fact when you're frustrated because encountering difficult text is common. Good readers just have a toolbox that is full of strategies that they put to use to help them understand. And that is exactly what I want to do for you. The first thing I want you to think about is how you learn. Do you learn best by seeing the concept? Do you learn best by doing it yourself? Or do you learn best by hearing the concept taught? Or are you like me and require a combination? I am very visual. Once I see the concept in action and then do it, I am most likely to learn the concept being talked. And the reason I want you to recognize how you learn best is because it does influence your comprehension. The second piece I want you to ponder is where Hughes struggle, recognising and admitting your struggle is important when it comes to fixing it, I'll give you two areas of reading where I know I struggled to help you understand that it's normal to struggle even for people like me who specialize in reading. Um, but I also want to help you think through your own areas of frustration. The two stories I'll share with you happened recently in my own life. The first is that my sister was recently diagnosed of having an M T h f Arjun that a communication do you to the fact that we're related and I had never heard of it before how I knew I needed to do a bit of research. And to be completely honest, it was. Researcher dreaded because reading medical documents and any medical research and articles air daunting for me because I do not recognize much of their terminology or jargon. So I'm finding that I'm looking up every other word. I'm also finding that they used this scientific tone that I muddle through saloon huli. In fact, if I'm honest, much of what the scientific community rights I struggled to Cyprus. The second area where I struggle is reading how to is reading how to manuals or textbooks. I was recently assigned a 400 page textbook on how to do a reading assessment, and I learned by page to what it was like to be a struggling reader and had to go and preach to my own frustration. Everyone's troubles. Everyone struggles. Everyone struggle was, Don't forget that everyone struggles. Um, do you know how thankful I am that I did struggle through that, That I have these moments of struggle in my life because I learned so much about empathy and teaching through these moments, and I feel confident sharing what I knew with you seriously. If I encounter difficult text and I'm still able to learn, I can promise you that you can, too. 2. Toolbox: Hello and welcome back to my class. Uncomprehending, not comprehending nonfiction text better in this section I am going to be giving you a toolbox full of tools that you can pull out and use a point when you become confused while you read nonfiction text. Remember I told you in the introduction that everyone struggles. This isn't new, were in common. I specialize in reading and yet I struggle at times and I'm so glad that I do because now I'm able to give tools to readers of every age in any genre and say this is what works for me and you could try it. See if it works for you, I'll give you another one that I want you to try. See if this one works. But what my goal is is to help you overcome that struggle. The first thing that I want you to think about is why you're reading it. Knowing your purpose is what will keep you motivated when you become frustrated and need to apply anyone that the tools to your struggle remember again that everyone struggles. But what I'm giving you here are the tools to age you in your confusion as you overcome it , and this is the 1st 1 Knowing your purpose, like I said, is that's going to keep you motivated and I'll give you an example for that. In my graduate course, uh called diagnosing and correcting a struggling reader. I was assigned to 400 take page textbook, all about how to assess a reader. It was daunting, and it was terrifying because we had to apply what we learned in that textbook with a really life student. I wasn't just playing with this some. I'm not just playing some game it. I'm officially diving in and trying to diagnose this struggling reader and correct it and provide her a individualized plan to go forward. And I could either be a major help or a major stumbling block. And that, in and of itself was this huge motivator for me to finish the textbook and overcome my struggle in reading it. So know your purpose. Why are you reading it? And that will keep you going next, ask questions. This is one of the most important pieces to learning any time that we have a problem or a struggle, we ask questions. Thumb through the text first and ask yourself questions about it and with things that automatically pop out at you and the reason why this is so important. One of the greatest teachers of all time, Milton Vincent Gregory, wrote this old old book called The Seven Laws of Learning. And in it he talks about this particular skill, and he says that any learning experience or any object or any event that excites no question will provoke no thought. So the first thing that I want you to do is to ask questions about the text. What is it that you're trying to learn? And then you're going to try to answer those questions, and I'll be diving more into these specifically as we go. The next one, which is the one that's most helpful for me, is finding visuals of the concept that they that you're trying to learn. I use YouTube and Google images quite frequently because I'm a visual learner. So in the first Power Point presentation, we talked about what type of learner are you if you're a visual, if you're an audio of your kinesthetic? If your visual I highly suggest this tool, I'll give you an example my sister was recently diagnosed as having an empty HFR genetic mutation. I knew nothing about it since we're related. I knew that since some of the symptoms that were experiencing were similar, I needed to look and find a doctor who was able to put it in terms that I could understand so that I could go and then read the text in the research in the documents that I was struggling toe understand? Thankfully, I did find a doctor who explained it really well so that I was able to understand it. Simply, Einstein said. If you don't understand something, simply, you don't understand it at all. And then when I was able to do that, then I was able to go and read the research in the documents and talked to a doctor intelligently. This one is vitally important. You I need to know how the text is structured. So before you even begin your reading, I encourage you to thumb through the text from beginning to end. And what I want you to pay attention to are all these features what's in the table of contents? What is in the glossary? The index pay attention, especially to your titles in your headings because those are your main ideas. We take this grand idea, and we put it in just a short snippet to give you an idea of what that entire section is going to be about. Pitocin. Different print. If an author emphasizes something, then they'll bold ID or underlying it or italicize it. If it's different, that means that that's they wanted to stand out. So pay attention to those things next, especially if you're visual visual learner. Pay attention to your maps, your graphics, your pictures and captions, any side bars or side notes, those things will add additional information or help you understand what's on that page. And also, and most importantly, never ever skip an author's introduction or an author's conclusion. That's where they sum up the ideas that they're trying to get you. In the introduction, they say, Here's what I'm about to give you in the conclusion they say, Here's everything that I have given you and it's thes short snippets to help you understand . The whole thes pieces are so important to understanding nonfiction texts because every nonfiction text is organized and structured in a way to help you understand the concept better, and these are the pieces that you need Teoh jot down and pay attention to because they will also excite questions. Another tool that I really want you to hone in on is too recognize that they're going to be words that you don't know, but then use your tools to defying them. I use dictionary dot com the app on my phone. It's probably actually, I'll be honest. It's probably my most used app, and a paperback version is great. In fact, I teach my first grader to use both because I want her to know, See the guide words, and I want her to recognize how to use both of them. The reason why I like the dictionary dot com app so much is because it has all these features like the dictionary, that source and it has. This learner piece that is really cool dives into the word further to help you understand it more. But don't be afraid to just stop and say I don't know how I I don't know this word. And there's been many times where I've come across a word that I've seen many times that I thought I knew, and it was used in a different way that I still had to look up. Don't be afraid to do this. This one is most helpful when I find myself getting sidetracked. So in this diagnosing and correcting struggling readers assessment, I would record myself reading certain chunks of it. And then I was doing the dishes. I would listen to it, or why was folding laundry that way? I was hearing it in multiple places, and this is especially important if you're an audio learner, record yourself reading the text and have yourself listen to it multiple times. That does of wonder in aiding and comprehension, because the more you read it, the more you understand it. Reading and re reading and re reading is an important aspect in comprehension. There is a reciprocal relationship between from reading and writing, because you can't have one without the other. In order to read better, you must write better. In order to write better, you must read better, and in the next video what I'll give you. Are all the tools so many tools out there that exist to read and right to help you comprehend better and I want to end with that because eyes sound that if you want to be a better writer, you have to read more. If you want to be about a reader, you need to be writing and the to correlate you can't. I can't be a reading teacher without being a writing teacher, and I can't be a writing teacher without being a reading teacher. It's impossible to separate the two. 3. Reading & Writing: he We've reached my favorite part of this class. I am so excited to share with you all that I know about reading and writing and the reciprocal relationship that exists between the two of them. But I'm about to give you our set of tools to help you do them both together. And I want you to recognize this as as the vitally important skill because, well, you can't enter into any profession while whether it's a mathematician, doctors, scientists, librarian doesn't matter what it is. If you don't have the ability to read and write well, you're not going to. You just won't be able to do those professions or anything, really. So what I want to give you is a set of tools that you can pull out and use at for any text . At any 0.1 may work well for another that may not work so well for a different set text. So this is why I want to give you mini so that you can try wanted. If it doesn't work, then you can try another one in, or you can just pick your favorite and stick with it. We're going to start with my favorite sketch, noting this also makes me laugh a lot because I was creating this picture of sketch, noting to show its sketch noting is. And as I'm drawing it out, my six year old asked me what I was doing. And my three year old answered the question for me by saying, drawing a sneaky I So I cannot look at this without thinking of that. I hope it makes you laugh like it did me, Um, but what sketch note does is create a visual representation of what you're reading. So all of the idea is the main I, the main ideas, the supporting details, everything that you're reading. This is a way to write it down in visual form. The reason I like there's so much is because it involves all the aspects of your brain, both sides, the different parts, because what you're doing is creating what you're reading, and you're making a visual for it. It's called a mind map, and studies have proven that it actually helps you remember well, and this engaging the whole mind is called visual thinking. What I love about this is that there is no right or wrong way to approach sketch, noting it doesn't even have to be pretty. Hence my picture. It is just a way for you to take what is going on in your brain and to draw pictures that is associated with what you're reading and then write it in this way. It This is especially helpful for people who are artistic, But even if you're not, don't hesitate to try, because this for me, has been the most successful approach for taking good nose. Another one that's really successful for me is a marking system. I prefer using highlighters or colored pins or colored pencils. But I've also used a marking system for my students, where I give them different colored sticky notes. And I have them mark the excellent with an exclamation point. Anything new that they've learned star for important. Um, you can go through that and see how we've used it. But I for my Bible reading, for example, um, I want to keep it God centered, So I don't want Teoh start thinking from this human man's and her bubble. So what I've done is created a marking system to help me know who God is and who he created me to be so I have colors that represent, um, God's sovereignty. His his attributes, his grace, his mercy hit his faithfulness. I saw that I am able to see him more and me less. That marking system is useful for any type of reading. Trust me, it helps so much to see and use different colors so that, you know, as you're reading or going back and reviewing this color represents this or this symbol represents This, um, reviewing is important. And I think marking helps me do that. Well, this is one that I really like, because it can be a concept that you use online. I've used um, Chicago Blue. That's how you say it. If it was not cockle, be phonetically incorrect kugel. Um, Anyway, I really should have looked that up before starting in this class, but I What this is is a mind map, and you can go online to these places and create this main idea in the supporting details that go along with it. And you have this visual representation of what you're reading and this unique format, plus you can save it online, which is another thing that I really appreciate. It's not another piece of paper floating her helping to my office. This is my favorite one, Um, in regards to difficulty a step by step. Uh, there's a lot of details involved, kind of nonfiction writing. It's called Cornell Note taking. And what I dio, as I'm using this is I thumb through the text and I know to any titles or headings remember those or you're going to be your main ideas and I put them in the left hand call in the Green column and any questions I have. I write them down, and then while I'm reading, I go back and I draw little arrows to my notes section on the right hand column and I start answering those questions. I start adding supporting details to those main ideas. I, um, defined words key words that came up during the reading. And while I disagree with their because they say that in Corno notes the main idea, the keywords, the question section should only occur after your reading. I think it's one why I've used anyway before, during and after reading, but it's entirely up to you. These this is your nuts. No one's going to judge you based on how you're taking notes, trust me. But what I want it to be as a tool that you can use successfully, and that's how I use it. Use it successfully. And then when I'm all done with that section, But I'm all done with my reading, I go back and I write a summary. This is vitally important because you need to recall the information that you just read. If you can't do that, then you didn't understand it. So use this for any of that difficult text, and that's the one I'm going to. I'm actually gonna be using this one when I model it in my next class section on how I've approached difficult text so that you can see all of the things that I've taught you in action. This one I especially love for historical reading, because I am a person who tends to forget names and dates and how they correlate with each other. So this is one that I have often used even in historical fiction, reading, uh to help me break apart the pieces and and how they're all related. But I especially like it for the column of why? So you have these things that happen in history? Do you know their motives? Because that will help you understand the big picture. This is one of my favorites. And this is also one that I've provided a graphic organizer in your project section. Now that we've gone through all of them, I simply want you to pick one. I want you to think about what you're reading and which one you would enjoy the most. And then I want you to go and I want you to read. Or if you've recorded you reading it, then listen to it. And I want you to use one of these note taking strategies to write as you read or listen. And then I want you to review your notes. This is an important step that I don't want you to forget. It doesn't take very long. 30 seconds. Go back and review what you've written and maybe read your summary out loud or talk about it out loud. But that leads me to the next section that I also don't want you to skip. And that is discussing if you take what you've read in what you've written down and you talk about it with someone, whether it's on an online forum or friend or your spouse or your, um, my poor Children have had to listen to me. Ah, few times talk about Listen, Noah, Mom, he learned I don't care who you discuss it with, but find someone willing that you can go up to and say I just learned something new, and I really want the opportunity to talk about it because talking about it concrete sit in your mind. So don't skip this step. In fact, I have this pin on my Pinterest board about how even reading and writing are They're lower percentage of concrete ing something in your mind than discussing it. Discussing it is actually, they say, the most important piece to learning. I would say they're all pretty equal, Um, but I've learned that when I discuss everything that I've just learned and done, then I am able to remember at her 4. The Tools I Used: how and welcome back to the last portion in comprehending your nonfiction text. Better, but I am going to show you is how I took a 400 page textbook that I was struggling to read and understand and was actually able to understand it well enough to do an assessment, which is what they were trying to teach me how to do the basic reading inventory assessment . I'll show you how I went through the book initially and that the tools that I used to comprehend this text. So the first thing that I always do is I thumb through the book, and the first page that I always take note of is the con table of contents. This particular book had through five pages of contents, I think, and what I do is I go through and I start making note of the section and what each section was titled. So the overview, this particular section I really paid a lot attention to, because if it's an overview, then it's gonna help. Ah, some up section to Section three, Section four, Section five and so on. So this particular section I paid a lot of attention to and I began writing the section titles in my main idea or keywords, My Cornel note Taking so administrating administration and scoring procedures. So I'm just gonna put procedures in my caramel notes. Thesixties in three. Determining the students three reading levels. Okay, reading, struggling, topping the reading levels. And then Section four, Section five I went through and I did that with all of the sections. And then I was able to as I was reading them, Go and draw this arrow from my main idea by keywords or any questions that came up as I was reading and writing in my notes section. The next part that I paid a lot of attention to is my preface. Thankfully, this was only two pages long, and they offered these really quick and easy who they called it highlights. They're gonna highlight some new features in the Sedition, and I really appreciate it when the mouth or does this, especially with nonfiction text, because it's like you're over few off the entire book. And then, in my overview, I started paying attention to how they arranged the text, and so what each section had, which I really appreciate to go back to your contents page. They had all these really important main ideas. And then when I went and looked at how this the book was arranged, I noticed that those main ideas were bulleted. And then they offered the page numbers, and breaking it up that way really helped me to take apart the book and a manageable way. So what I did was I went and I would read from Page. Um are Emery page three. I'm going do my very best to understand this. I probably had, like, 10 pages of corn on its and then I heard reward myself. So sit down with a good cup of coffee or your favorite drink and get your comfy clothes on and start doing chunks at a time. Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to do 400 pages, all in one setting, but do trunks at a time. It could even be 15 minutes here, and then you go and do something that you love to do, and then you come back and do another 15 minutes, and then you take a break and chunking it that way really helped me to tackle this enormous textbook. And so I suggest the same for you. The other thing that really helped me it was recording, reading particular sections. And then while I was folding laundry, I was listening to it. I knew that this was a text that I needed help with. Not sure it's going on, but anyway, we'll deal with that later, and I'll finish this class. But I used that tool to record myself and then go back and read it and the Cornell notes and I also went to YouTube, and I searched for a teacher who was able to record either her practicing, take it, doing the assessment on a student or you had permission from the parents to record the assessment. But that was extremely helpful for me. It was I was able to break apart the individual steps, which there were a lot of them better by watching someone do it. I am a very visual and kinesthetic for So when I was able to see someone do it and then go back and read what I was supposed to be doing that made all the difference. So I hope that just this brief overview of how I took a difficult text and use the tools helped you and what I want you to dio is to go and take your own difficult text. Pickaway, take notes. Record yourself reading it. Listen to it. Take notes, review your notes, discuss it with someone and then reward yourself because you've just tackle the text that you were struggling with successfully and I am super excited to hear how it went for you.