Thursday, August 20, 2009

Textbook Tips

Although there are many ways to teach content, from podcasts to picture books, the traditional textbook may still remain an important means for students to learn for many years. It’s important that we show students how to use them.

These strategies from Power Tools for Adolescent Literacy will help your students prepare to read their texts this year.

“Let Your Fingers Do the Walking” (pgs.18-19): introduces the text; generates some interest and excitement.
“Scavenger Hunt” (pgs. 66-67): leads students to see important features of the text including reference sections, the table of contents, and the index.
“Passage Prediction” (pg. 69): introduces new words and teaches prediction.

Bring students’ attention to text features before they begin to read. Show students how to change titles, headings and subheadings into questions. Use these questions to set a purpose for reading.

Each time that you assign reading from the text, direct students to practice using one of the “Magnificant Seven Comprehension Strategies” (pgs. 40-43) while they read.

If your students leave you having learned content and carrying a tool box full of reading strategies, you will have served them well. Have a great year!


  1. Marjorie,

    I am so excited about introducing my students to the "Magnificent Seven" reading strategies. I am a firm believer that students do not like to read because they do not know how to read. Reading is a process. As soon as we (teachers) are able to show/demonstrate to students that reading does not mean just open the book and look at words; rather, they should actually analyze words which makes sentences which make paragraphs which begets stories, they will enjoy the process more. The kick off strategy I am starting with is "Asking Questions." I cannot wait to see my students participating in the activity, "Let Your Fingers Do the Walking."

  2. It is my opinion that textbooks have been severely taken for granted, not only by students but also by teachers. The schools are already paying for each student to take a book home, thus paying for an opportunity for students to go beyond what one year of classroom learning can present to them.

    The magnificent seven, when used correctly, helps engage the child in this tremendous resource!

    Two quick testimonies convey these ideas. In 10th grade, I had a teacher who hardly taught for 3 classes while we her students toiled through what seemed and endless scavenger hunt. I suppose I learned how to use the book, but not without much disgust each time I had to pick it up.

    Second story: my senior year in high school an unexpected schedule problem required that I take pre-calculus independently. Because I was so well-skilled in the magnificent 7, I was able to utilize my textbook to learn the material. I took the same tests as those in the actual classroom setting and earned an A+.

    Let's teach our kids to comprehend and use those textbooks!

  3. Like yourself, I can recall a time that knowing how to read a textbook independently allowed me to succeed in a class. This was an on-line course in world history. We were responsible for the content of the book. Knowing how to read and learn from a textbook made all the difference.