Reading for information is of paramount importance to your success as an informed decision in society. Children need to learn how to read for information – not just for entertainment. Several skills are important and must be taught for gleaning information from a text.
Analyzing a text – how do you actually analyze a text? What does it even mean to really analyze something? Analyze is verb and an academic word of great importance! By definition it means to: examine methodically and in detail the constitution or structure of (something, especially information), typically for purposes of explanation and interpretation; discover or reveal (something) through detailed examination.
- Analyze how individuals, events and ideas develop and interact throughout the text. (Anchor standard 3)
- Analyze the validity of the text or the author.
- Analyze the arguments made. Look at them in more detail and discuss how or why the argument was made.
- Analyze the soundness of the text, the arguments, the evidence, and other aspects of the text. Is it verifiable? Does it make sense? Can you follow the argument even if you don’t agree?
- Are different points of view included in the text? Why or why not?
Investigating the ideas, claims and reasoning found in the text. Investigate is also a verb and important academic word. By definition, it means: carry out a systematic or formal inquiry to discover and examine the facts of (an incident, allegation, etc.) so as to establish the truth; carry out research or study into (a subject, typically one in a scientific or academic field) so as to discover facts or information; make inquiries as to the character, activities, or background of (someone). With reading for information, you are investigating the ideas, claims and “reasoning” of the text rather than the characters, figurative language and symbolism as in literature
We need to explicitly teach our children to read to understand the text – which in my opinion is different from simple comprehension. We can comprehend something without truly understanding it. Reading for information requires we read to follow reasoning while with literature, we read to follow the plot. Similarly, reading for information requires us to follow the evidence and literature requires us to follow the events.
Here is something to think about…. these same skills are going to be needed and used when we start writing narrative and informational texts. The reading and writing standards are closely linked and much of our future assessments will be through writing as the means of showing our understanding.