Critical Reading


10 Strategies for Using Writing Principles to Model Critical Reading

These quick strategies use the language of the LRS curriculum to guide students' critical reading. They are arranged in increasing order of difficulty, so that you can help students first to comprehend and then to question and challenge what they read.

1. Evidence Hunt.
Before students read, hand out argument boxes with the claims and reasons already filled in. Ask students as they read to find the evidence that supports each reason.

2. Argument Boxes
Assign students to fill in argument boxes as they read, or fill in the boxes together on the board or overhead in class. Remind students that they can fill in the evidence and then work through the reasons to the claim; they don't have to find the claim first.

3. 30-Second Argument.
Pair off students. Student A summarizes for Student B the claim, reasons, and evidence from the reading in thirty seconds or less. Then Student B does the same for Student A. Have a few students give their summaries for the entire class, then refine as a group.

4. The Problem: Tangible or Conceptual?
Identify the problem as tangible or conceptual. Should the reader do something differently or think differently? Is the problem a gap in knowledge? If so, what are its costs?

5. What's the Question?
We can always express the destabilizing condition of a conceptual problem as a question, but the question is usually not on the page. Working in groups, students should find the destabilizing condition and then articulate the question it poses.

6. Problem Statement Boxes
Have students fill in problem statement boxes as they read or in groups in class. To make this easier, you can give them one part of the problem statment and have use the logical connections between the parts of the problem statement to identify the rest. You may want to use the Problem Statements: Logical Connections handout before introducing problem statement boxes.  

7. Shared Assumptions
At any point in discussion, ask students to articulate warrants, although you don't need to use the word warrants. Ask: What do I have to believe to accept this reason or evidence as true?

8. Argument Alternatives
List alternative positions not acknowledged by the reading. To focus this exercise, assign each group a single local claim with which to work.

9. Reader ID
Who is the audience for this argument? Students can work in groups, with each group looking at a different set of clues to determine the audience. Clues include the status quo position, consequences, evidence, and acknowledgement/response. What does each clue tell us about the article's readership? What do these readers care about?

10. On the Page
After students have completed argument boxes, lead a discussion of the relationship between the structure of the argument and the organization of the reading. Where do the parts of argument appear on the page, if at all? Is it a claim-first or claim-last argument? What does the organizational structure emphasize? How would the impact of the reading be different if it were organized in a different way?