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Strategies for active reading – master the art of success

Strategies for Active Reading – Master the art of success

Welcome back to Readingjump. We are excited about all the new skills that we are bringing to you.  The strategies that can help you excel in your learning career. Strategies for active reading can be considered PART II in the ‘What is active reading – becoming the master’ series.

A review of reasons to learn active reading

Whatever stage of life that you may be unraveling and decoding these strategies will make that stage more effortless.  In high school, they can prepare you for upcoming standardized tests – the often dreaded SATs.  They can also help you in preparing for your university career. They ease the great challenges of university curriculums while also offering you greater options for continuing onto grad school. should that be your goal?  If not, they will help you gain enough comprehensive knowledge to ready you for ‘the real world’. 

Strategies for Active Reading  2

Following these strategies in university or grad school can make you the best in your field.

These methods can also offer you a way to extract the. most out of adult or life education programs.  Whatever your goal, these are not skills that you want to by-pass.  Progress in any direction requires constantly updating the knowledge we have and remaining active – interactive learners – for life.

Our goal with these strategies for active reading is to help you become a master in your field they can prove very beneficial in academic, creative reading and prose and even if you are learning this information to become a better writer, speaker or learning how to think more clearly (critical thinking). We cannot build high without digging deep first and then building a solid foundation. Even the mental health benefits of active reading are enough to consider learning these skills.  The ability to keep our brain well-tuned increases when we have a strategic plan involving the use of as much of our physical and conceptual mind as we are capable of applying to our active life. 

Active reading as opposed to passive reading

The main difference between active and passive reading lies within the goal.  In passive reading, the goal is to learn what the writer thinks about the subject.  Conversely,  in Active Reading, the goal is to learn what YOU – THE READER thinks about it.

Pre-reading questions

What is the topic?

Do you already know something about this topic?

What do you already know?

What do you WONDER about it?

Have you ever wanted to know something about this topic that you never gave yourself the chance to ask?

Identify and define unfamiliar terms

Pay attention in particular to the introduction or opening paragraphs to locate this information.  Sometimes what seems like a very small step can save an awful lot of time – especially when you have to plow your way through a large amount of information.

Making marginal notes and comments is another very useful step in the strategies of active reading that shouldn’t be undermined.

In addition to making LIMITED use of a highlighter, perhaps only to highlight terms, names, dates, reasoning, advantages and disadvantages and other major focal points within the text. 

Write questions or reactions in the margins

writing

Sometimes we are able to make connections with our experiences or our previous knowledge that opens up new branches of questions or discussion even new avenues of research.  Sometimes we gain insight or find answers to what we have been pondering on previously or seeking an answer to.  The new text may unravel an unconscious insight that we were unable to previously put into words but which floated around in our subconscious minds and required more explanation. And sometimes it may open up new ideas for writing, whether for a term paper or personal project. Whatever it maybe – make note of it in the margin.

Ask questions and debate arguments just for the sake of seeing the other side even if you agree or need to FIND your point of view.

strategic note taking

Write down keywords 

It will help you remember important points that are discussed in the text. Most people already do this but in case you may be one of those who are not in the habit of jotting down keywords, you may find it a useful addition to add to your strategies of active reading.  Keywords act as triggers. They may be what is presented in the text that you are pulling out as a reference word. Or alternatively, they may be an association that you have made with the material that you want to remember.  When you make your longhand notes you can explain this in more detail.

Learn to enter into a dialogue with the arguments and opinions in the texts

argumentation

Pulling the information apart and examining it from different points of view is another immensely useful method in the strategies of active reading. For this strategy, one approach is to think of the material from the point of view of different thinkers, colleagues or friends and imagine their responses to the material. What would they say?  Do you think they would agree with the material?  What argument do you think they might pose against it? Perhaps you personally disagree but use a person you know to find the reverse or alternative to your own point of view.  As many points of view that you can find on the material, the more your understanding and ability to speak on a subject will grow in dimensions, and this is aside from expanding your own ability to understand people’s varying perspectives on a subject – like ethics.

Sometimes, we are able to make connections with our experiences or our previously obtained knowledge that opens up new branches of questions for discussion even new avenues of research. Some other times, we gain insight or find answers to what we have been pondering on previously or seeking an answer to.  The new text may unravel an unconscious insight that we were unable to previously put into words but which floated around in our minds requiring more explanation. And there are still other situations in which it may open up new ideas for writing. Whether for a term paper or personal project.
Whatever it maybe – make note of it in the margin.

 

Changing titles, subtitles, sections and paragraph headings into an active learning method

Reformulating statements into QUESTIONS is an excellent way to interact with the text and ensures that you find answers rather than just absorb information.  This personalizes the information into something that makes more sense to you as it answers a question that you are creating to create a space in your mind ready to store the information. The reason why this is such a powerful strategy of active reading powerful is that we remember what has more personal meaning, more easily than what we cannot find a way to store. The mind stores according to how it solves problems. Solving problems is what the mind does best and it helps it to thrive and grow. 

Make outlines, flow charts, or diagrams such as mind maps

charts

This enables you to activate the right side of the brain and form connections between the left and right hemispheres.  Using appropriate colors also increases interaction.  The color behaves like a code that helps the mind to organize the material intuitively.  The eye picks up these codes while the heart processes the meaning intuitively.

This goes into the subconscious mind faster than linear notes while linear notes are processed on a logical and critical level.  In this way, you cover many methods of remembering – just through your notes.  The more ways that you can find to learn and store the information, the deeper the information is impressed upon your memory – naturally.

The use of color in your notes

Strategies for Active Reading - color pencils

As for the colors, colors are universal symbols that carry subconscious meaning. Sometimes they have personal meaning to us and sometimes it can help us if we look up the psychology of color to understand more appropriately and precisely which colors to use for which information.  i.e.

Green generally means life while red stands out and is often used as a signal that what is encoded in this color is either of particular importance OR just that it may be a part of the text that you may have difficulty remembering or perhaps you know that it will be important in reference to a lecture or test. Yellow and black are often used as a warning signal. The case in point is the construction workers’ uniforms or barriers. This knowledge can be useful when you want to create unwritten triggers in your notes – either in mind maps or highlights in texts.

Shapes

Shapes

Sometimes you may find that using a particular shape in your mind maps can also trigger unconscious signals for you when you ‘bubble” the subject or subheadings in mind maps and regular notes too.  Jagged lines can work as the color yellow while square boxes can be used to emphasize practicality while a triangle means the manifestation of a triangle such as in mathematics is used to represent change, you can use this information for example in your notes when talking about causes for change such as in revolutions or landmarks for change in subjects such as social science or philosophy or perhaps a yellow triangle in political science, signaling possible warning signals for unrest.  

The COVID-19 would be a good example of a yellow triangle for the way that life on this planet went through a global change on a chronological timeline or even as a trigger for change (cause vs effect).

Paragraphical notes

When you read a text, you may find utility in making notes in the margins such as:

What is being said

What the paragraph does

Write questions

Do I agree with this? 

Disagree with this?

How do visuals aid learning?

Strategies for Active Reading - pictures

Using appropriate colors increases interaction.  The color behaves like a code that helps the mind to organize the material intuitively.   The eyes register these codes which our intuition (subconscious mind) then processes. This is registered before and faster than the logical and critical mind can process linear notes.  They are more refined functions of the brain so we build up to them with more stimulating sensory input such as color.  

Why should we include a variety of note-taking methods?

The more faculties we employ in learning, the broader our sense of involvement to the material and the more interactive our learning becomes and the greater the stimulation.  Besides, with each layer of our faculties that we are able to activate in each learning experience, the more connections we are able to build.

In this way, you can cover many methods of remembering – just through taking a variety of notes.  We vest ourselves into the process and hopefully find ourselves in the zen for that period of time – raising our cognitive involvement in the process.

The more ways that you can find to learn and store the information, the deeper the information is impressed upon your memory – naturally.

Read each paragraph carefully and make note of:

What is said

What the paragraph does

Write questions

Do I agree with this? Disagree with this?

questioning

Give yourself permission to not understand everything you read.  

Ask yourself questions where you begin to get confused.

Final words

So you see by the guidelines we have given here that using the strategies of active reading will create a link between input and what is already stored.  It is making sense of what we are reading to find its place in our minds, life or studies.  Strategies for active reading give us a blueprint to follow so that we can expand our experiential and intellectual realms.  Once you begin to apply these strategies for active reading – whether academic or creative reading, you will begin to personalize the information that you are gaining and become a mine of not only information but the experience which will enrich both your lives and your reading and also have a significant effect on the way you begin to speak.  

You are sure to find that it will give you confidence in debates as well as in intellectual or academic conversation because you have not only read an expanse of material but processed it completely and multi-dimensionally too.

 

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