ACTIVE Reading Strategies

Amy Goodman designed the acronym ACTIVE to help students be active and critical readers.

A: ask questions

C: make connections

T: track down important information

I: infer

V: visualize

E: Eureka! Synthesis (because the acronym can’t be ACTIVS I guess)

Ask questions: students learn to ask questions that will help them understand the text better rather than asking questions like “what’s the character’s favorite food/color?” Teach the difference between open-ended questions and closed questions so students can discuss and really think critically about questions that go deeper than the surface (although closed questions are good to clear up basic confusion about plot, setting, characters, etc.).

Connections: Show students how to make text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-word connections, among others.

Track down important information: Students highlight or mark with sticky notes what parts are most important. Give students 1 sticky note to cut into 3-4 strips so that students have limited choices about what is “most” important.

Inferences: Make four columns on paper and put each of these words in a column: questions, it says, I say, and so. Students first write an open-ended question. Then they support it with textual evidence –  “it says.” Then students write in their own ideas – “I say.” Finally, students come to a conclusion for the “and so” part.

Visualizing: Read aloud a passage and have students draw a picture of what they see. Display the pictures with the text around the room. It shows that the text “looks” different to everybody. Or you could do this activity where the teacher reads the passage to everybody and then small groups work together to make one illustration.

Eureka! Synthesis: Demonstrate the concept of “synthesis” by talking about how the individual ingredients of baked goods make something totally different when combined together. The same can be said for students who take multiple ideas, put them together, and come to a new idea or realization.


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