Academic words such as gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and report are critical to reading informational texts. It is no longer enough for students to read an informational text and just be excited by what they’ve read. They also need to evaluate whether or not the claims made are accurate and sound. They need to examine the evidence presented in the text and then consider the author’s point of view in presenting that evidence. As students progress through the levels of growth for informational reading, they need to learn to investigate ideas and the reasoning behind them. Are alternate ideas presented? Why or why not? As students read informational texts they need to do three things:
- Read for understanding
- Read to follow the author’s reasoning
- Read to follow the evidence
In our society today, many people listen to advertisements or read informational pamphlets and take for granted that what they are reading is legit and factual. Consider voter information literature. You read two pamphlets on the same proposition and both are different. They are written by different groups, have different points of view, have different opinions, and different outcomes. They take the same proposition and may use some of the same research, yet the information given is on opposite sides of the same fence. How are you to know who is telling the truth, or even what the truth is. Generally, you need to start doing your own serious investigating and not rely just on the literature sent to you. In order to understand the information and choose how you will vote, you need to first comprehend it! You need to evaluate what the author said and who or what the author represents. You need to synthesize all of the various viewpoints and then make your own determination on how to vote. All of this takes time and work and many voters simply don’t do it.
This is the type of thing these standards teach.