Teaching pre-reading strategies with your class is key part of literacy! All students come into our class with different reading abilities and we need to plan so that all students find success in the reading activity. Here are 5 pre-reading strategies to help all learners get ready to read the text! These would work best for short texts, but could also work for novel studies if each chapter was broken down and these pre-reading strategies used before each chapter.
- Do a vocabulary preview. This would work for both fiction and non-fiction. Before the lesson, read through and identity 5-10 words that your students could have difficulties with. Have students look these words up in a dictionary ahead of time and write a definition of the word and draw a picture. This will help students better understand the reading as they won’t get stuck on problematic words! Bonus: have students also find a synonym and an antonym for each word.
- Brainstorm the topic as a class. Would work best with non-fiction, but could also work with some fiction. Give students the topic of the reading. For example, if the text is about owls, have students brainstorm everything they know about owls. This would work great as a think, pair, share (where students think for a minute, talk to a partner, and then share out as a class) and as a great way to model a mind-map on the board with the ideas that students come up with.
- Run a carousal on the main topic. This would work best for non-fiction, but could also be used as a post-reading activity for a fiction text. In a carousal, students are put into groups of 4-5. On large pieces of paper, the teacher ahead of time writes questions or sub-topics related to the topic of the text. For example, if the topic of the text is owls, subtopics could be owl habitat, what owls eat, physical characteristics of owls, owls in movies and texts, etc. There should be enough questions/ sub-topics so that each group has a different question. Each group is given one large piece of paper with a question or sub-topic on it and asked to write everything they can think of about the topic. They are given about 4-5 minutes on that question, and then all the groups rotate to a new question and write anything else that they can think of on the new page. The process is repeated until all groups have had a chance to write on all questions/ sub-topics and are back at their original page. They then read over their new page and share out some interesting facts from it. This is a great way to access prior knowledge, learn from fellow students, and preview some information and vocabulary students may encounter in the text.
- Preview the images and headlines and have students make a hypothesis about what the text will be about. This would work best with non-fiction, but would also work with fiction that has images. Show the text and read allowed any titles, captions, sub-headings, and show the pictures. Have students talk to a neighbour about what they think the text will be about and then discuss as a class their hypotheses. Write them on the board. There are no wrong hypotheses for this, it’s about getting students thinking about what the text could be about and activating prior knowledge.
- Watch a short video that is related to the text. This could work for both fiction and non-fiction. Not sure if your students have much background information on the topic of the text? Try showing them a short video related to it. This will help activate prior knowledge and provide background information. You can also introduce key vocabulary by stopping the video and writing key terms on the board and defining them as they come up in the video. Note that you can blend non-fiction and fiction with this. For example, if you are reading a fictional text about dinosaurs, you could show a non-fiction video about dinosaurs. Alternatively, if you are reading a non-fiction text about something, feel free to show a related fictional video.