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Tools for non-fiction reading

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This list (partly adapted from Randy Bomer's For a Better World: Reading and Writing for Social Action} was created by Kiran Chaudhuri for her 9th Grade Humanities classes at East Side Community High School, NYC.

Students use these questions as a non-linear guide. That is, it has not seemed necessary for them to move from comprehension, to interpretation, to social critique. Instead students have been encouraged to find questions anywhere on the page that would help them in their response to a text they were reading.

Tools for Comprehending Edit

  1. Why am I reading this? What's the purpose?
  2. What’s the big idea of this text going to be?
  3. What will be in this text, and how it will go?
  4. Do I have any background knowledge on this topic?
  5. Do I have any text knowledge on this topic?
  6. Do I have any personal experience of this topic?
  7. What was the first text feature that hit my eye? How does it look on the page?
  8. What effect does it have? Why did the author or editor choose to include it?
  9. What other text feature hit my eye? How does it look on the page?
  10. What effect does it have? Why did the author or editor choose to include it?

Tools for Interpreting Edit

  1. If I had to squish this whole text into just one or two words, what words would I pick?
  2. What’s the most significant line/sentence/paragraph/part? Why?
  3. What does the author want me to know? (facts)
  4. What does the author want me to think? (ideas)
  5. What does the author want me to feel? (emotions)
  6. How does the author accomplish all this? How does s/he shape my understanding of the issue?
  7. What does this text make explicit?
  8. What’s the subtext here? What’s implied but not stated outright in the text?

Tools for Social Critique Edit

  1. What do I notice myself resisting in this text?
  2. What does that say about the text? What does that say about me?
  3. Whose voices are heard in this text? Whose are not?
  4. How does money figure in this text?
  5. How does justice figure in this text?
  6. How does power figure in this text?
  7. What perspective does this text take?
  8. Who benefits from this perspective? Who's hurt?
  9. Who’s been excluded from this text?
  10. What would the voices that are not heard have to say if they were included?
  11. What social issue(s) does this text bring to mind?
  12. What does this issue have to do with the text?

External Links Edit

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