Previewing the Cereal Box for Greater Reading ComprehensionOn April 29, 2017 by abah guru
Reading more efficiently can be a product of knowing what to read, why you are reading it, and previewing it before you read. That tool, known as looking for schema , is similar to reading the back of a cereal box. When you were a child, you probably enjoyed holding the box in front of you while you ate. You were usually looking at the largest and brightest pictures to give yourself a feel for the game or the puzzle on the box, and then you would take in the smaller details after you had decided if you wanted to play that game. That strategy can be used for reading to increase our understanding of the material before us. Schema, the book's "map" for understanding content, can be found in several places including in each chapter, paragraph, or even each sentence. We can use the schema to work through our reading more quickly by previewing the "largest" and "brightest" pieces of information in the text before we read.
Doing this will help to increase some of the common roadblocks to reading comprehension. Our brains like to be in their "comfort zone" and as a result, when we read we will often find that we can not remember what we read. It's like we were not really reading as our brains relaxed as the words just washed over us. Or, similarly, we do not really engage with the material before we read it because we fail to know the purpose or goal of the reading. We are not really sure what we will gain from the reading, so we just gloss over the words. But if we apply intentional reading skills such as knowing our purpose for reading, expecting to obtain specific information from the book, and using the book's schema to help us, not only will the reading go faster, but we will understand more, retain it longer , And be able to apply the information to our studies.
So where do we find this schema? It can be found in the nouns and verbs, primarily. Those are the words that have "weight" and carry the meaning in any text, and they provide the anchor for the descriptive texts that are coming. Authors also add schema in larger chunks at several specific points in their writing. Topic sentences are a good example of this, as well as the opening and closing chapters of every book. By previewing the opening and closing chapters, or the first and last paragraphs of a chapter, or even the topic sentences of the paragraphs, we can get a pretty good idea of what the author is going to say in that section. If we do this prior to reading the material, focusing on the nouns and verbs in each area, we will have all of the necessary mental "hangars" in which to add the descriptive information when we finally read the text, so increasing our comprehension and Learning of the material at hand.
Taking a few short minutes to look for schema in the reading material before you read it will make a world of difference in how you process and understand the content of what you are about to read. While it might seem odd to preview the reading before you read it, it is a tool that every child can tell you has value, purpose, and great reward!