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To read about / on a topic

Are these two sentences correct?

  • I've read a lot about this topic lately
  • I've read a lot on this topic lately

If both are valid, is there any difference in their meaning?

  • prepositions

plok's user avatar

  • 2 They are both correct from an English readers perspective. I think the ON version feels more specific, like you were looking for information, while the ABOUT version feels like the reading was incidental to other readings. –  baash05 Mar 1, 2015 at 7:27

Plok, both versions are correct and convey the same meaning.

There is usually more than one way to express a thought, however which methods, or methods, one uses depends on context- what you are writing, the audience, etc.

The version using "on" connotes a specific target (as mentioned by baash05) and is also more formal.

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Here you can find activities to practise your reading skills. Reading will help you to improve your understanding of the language and build your vocabulary.

The self-study lessons in this section are written and organised by English level based on the Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR). There are different types of texts and interactive exercises that practise the reading skills you need to do well in your studies, to get ahead at work and to communicate in English in your free time.

Take our free online English test to find out which level to choose. Select your level, from A1 English level (elementary) to C1 English level (advanced), and improve your reading skills at your own speed, whenever it's convenient for you.

Choose your level to practise your reading

A1 reading

Learn to read English with confidence

Our online English classes feature lots of useful learning materials and activities to help you develop your reading skills with confidence in a safe and inclusive learning environment.

Practise reading with your classmates in live group classes, get reading support from a personal tutor in one-to-one lessons or practise reading by yourself at your own speed with a self-study course.

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  • 5.2 Effective Reading Strategies
  • Introduction
  • 1.1 Why College?
  • 1.2 The First Year of College Will Be an Experience
  • 1.3 College Culture and Expectations
  • 1.4 How Can This Book And This Course Help?
  • Where do you go from here?
  • 2.1 The Power to Learn
  • 2.2 The Motivated Learner
  • 2.3 It's All in the Mindset
  • 2.4 Learning Preferences
  • 2.5 Personality Types and Learning
  • 2.6 Applying What You Know about Learning
  • 2.7 The Hidden Curriculum
  • Career Connection
  • 3.1 The Benefits of Time Management
  • 3.2 Time Management in College
  • 3.3 Procrastination: The Enemy Within
  • 3.4 How to Manage Time
  • 3.5 Prioritization: Self-Management of What You Do and When You Do It
  • 3.6 Goal Setting and Motivation
  • 3.7 Enhanced Strategies for Time and Task Management
  • 4.1 Defining Values and Setting Goals
  • 4.2 Planning Your Degree Path
  • 4.3 Making a Plan
  • 4.4 Managing Change and the Unexpected
  • 5.1 The Nature and Types of Reading
  • 5.3 Taking Notes
  • 6.2 Studying
  • 6.3 Test Taking
  • 7.1 What Thinking Means
  • 7.2 Creative Thinking
  • 7.3 Analytical Thinking
  • 7.4 Critical Thinking
  • 7.5 Problem-Solving
  • 7.6 Metacognition
  • 7.7 Information Literacy
  • 8.1 An Overview of Communication
  • 8.2 Purpose of Communication
  • 8.3 Communication and Technology
  • 8.4 The Context of Communication
  • 8.5 Barriers to Effective Communication
  • 9.1 What Is Diversity, and Why Is Everybody Talking About It?
  • 9.2 Categories of Diversity
  • 9.3 Navigating the Diversity Landscape
  • 9.4 Inclusivity and Civility: What Role Can I Play?
  • 10.1 Personal Financial Planning
  • 10.2 Savings, Expenses, and Budgeting
  • 10.3 Banking and Emergency Funds
  • 10.4 Credit Cards and Other Debt
  • 10.5 Education Debt: Paying for College
  • 10.6 Defending against Attack: Securing Your Identity and Accounts
  • 11.1 Taking Care of Your Physical Health
  • 11.3 Taking Care of Your Emotional Health
  • 11.4 Taking Care of Your Mental Health
  • 11.5 Maintaining Healthy Relationships
  • 11.6 Your Safety
  • 12.1 Why Worry about a Career While I'm in College?
  • 12.2 Your Map to Success: The Career Planning Cycle
  • 12.3 Where Can You Go from Here?
  • A | Conducting and Presenting Research
  • B | Recommended Readings
  • C | Activities and Artifacts From the Book

Questions to Consider:

  • What methods can you incorporate into your routine to allow adequate time for reading?
  • What are the benefits and approaches to active reading?
  • Do your courses or major have specific reading requirements?

Allowing Adequate Time for Reading

You should determine the reading requirements and expectations for every class very early in the semester. You also need to understand why you are reading the particular text you are assigned. Do you need to read closely for minute details that determine cause and effect? Or is your instructor asking you to skim several sources so you become more familiar with the topic? Knowing this reasoning will help you decide your timing, what notes to take, and how best to undertake the reading assignment.

A person with earphones plugged in his ears sits in a train reading a book. Other commuters are seated in the background.

Depending on the makeup of your schedule, you may end up reading both primary sources—such as legal documents, historic letters, or diaries—as well as textbooks, articles, and secondary sources, such as summaries or argumentative essays that use primary sources to stake a claim. You may also need to read current journalistic texts to stay current in local or global affairs. A realistic approach to scheduling your time to allow you to read and review all the reading you have for the semester will help you accomplish what can sometimes seem like an overwhelming task.

When you allow adequate time in your hectic schedule for reading, you are investing in your own success. Reading isn’t a magic pill, but it may seem like it when you consider all the benefits people reap from this ordinary practice. Famous successful people throughout history have been voracious readers. In fact, former U.S. president Harry Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” Writer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, inventor, and also former U.S. president Thomas Jefferson claimed “I cannot live without books” at a time when keeping and reading books was an expensive pastime. Knowing what it meant to be kept from the joys of reading, 19th-century abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” And finally, George R. R. Martin, the prolific author of the wildly successful Game of Thrones empire, declared, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.”

You can make time for reading in a number of ways that include determining your usual reading pace and speed, scheduling active reading sessions, and practicing recursive reading strategies.

Determining Reading Speed and Pacing

To determine your reading speed, select a section of text—passages in a textbook or pages in a novel. Time yourself reading that material for exactly 5 minutes, and note how much reading you accomplished in those 5 minutes. Multiply the amount of reading you accomplished in 5 minutes by 12 to determine your average reading pace (5 times 12 equals the 60 minutes of an hour). Of course, your reading pace will be different and take longer if you are taking notes while you read, but this calculation of reading pace gives you a good way to estimate your reading speed that you can adapt to other forms of reading.

So, for instance, if Marta was able to read 4 pages of a dense novel for her English class in 5 minutes, she should be able to read about 48 pages in one hour. Knowing this, Marta can accurately determine how much time she needs to devote to finishing the novel within a set amount of time, instead of just guessing. If the novel Marta is reading is 497 pages, then Marta would take the total page count (497) and divide that by her hourly reading rate (48 pages/hour) to determine that she needs about 10 to 11 hours overall. To finish the novel spread out over two weeks, Marta needs to read a little under an hour a day to accomplish this goal.

Calculating your reading rate in this manner does not take into account days where you’re too distracted and you have to reread passages or days when you just aren’t in the mood to read. And your reading rate will likely vary depending on how dense the content you’re reading is (e.g., a complex textbook vs. a comic book). Your pace may slow down somewhat if you are not very interested in what the text is about. What this method will help you do is be realistic about your reading time as opposed to waging a guess based on nothing and then becoming worried when you have far more reading to finish than the time available.

Chapter 3 , offers more detail on how best to determine your speed from one type of reading to the next so you are better able to schedule your reading.

Scheduling Set Times for Active Reading

Active reading takes longer than reading through passages without stopping. You may not need to read your latest sci-fi series actively while you’re lounging on the beach, but many other reading situations demand more attention from you. Active reading is particularly important for college courses. You are a scholar actively engaging with the text by posing questions, seeking answers, and clarifying any confusing elements. Plan to spend at least twice as long to read actively than to read passages without taking notes or otherwise marking select elements of the text.

To determine the time you need for active reading, use the same calculations you use to determine your traditional reading speed and double it. Remember that you need to determine your reading pace for all the classes you have in a particular semester and multiply your speed by the number of classes you have that require different types of reading.

Practicing Recursive Reading Strategies

One fact about reading for college courses that may become frustrating is that, in a way, it never ends. For all the reading you do, you end up doing even more rereading. It may be the same content, but you may be reading the passage more than once to detect the emphasis the writer places on one aspect of the topic or how frequently the writer dismisses a significant counterargument. This rereading is called recursive reading.

For most of what you read at the college level, you are trying to make sense of the text for a specific purpose—not just because the topic interests or entertains you. You need your full attention to decipher everything that’s going on in complex reading material—and you even need to be considering what the writer of the piece may not be including and why. This is why reading for comprehension is recursive.

Specifically, this boils down to seeing reading not as a formula but as a process that is far more circular than linear. You may read a selection from beginning to end, which is an excellent starting point, but for comprehension, you’ll need to go back and reread passages to determine meaning and make connections between the reading and the bigger learning environment that led you to the selection—that may be a single course or a program in your college, or it may be the larger discipline, such as all biologists or the community of scholars studying beach erosion.

People often say writing is rewriting. For college courses, reading is rereading.

Strong readers engage in numerous steps, sometimes combining more than one step simultaneously, but knowing the steps nonetheless. They include, not always in this order:

  • bringing any prior knowledge about the topic to the reading session,
  • asking yourself pertinent questions, both orally and in writing, about the content you are reading,
  • inferring and/or implying information from what you read,
  • learning unfamiliar discipline-specific terms,
  • evaluating what you are reading, and eventually,
  • applying what you’re reading to other learning and life situations you encounter.

Let’s break these steps into manageable chunks, because you are actually doing quite a lot when you read.

A pie diagram shows the six major components of strong reading.

Accessing Prior Knowledge

When you read, you naturally think of anything else you may know about the topic, but when you read deliberately and actively, you make yourself more aware of accessing this prior knowledge. Have you ever watched a documentary about this topic? Did you study some aspect of it in another class? Do you have a hobby that is somehow connected to this material? All of this thinking will help you make sense of what you are reading.


Imagining that you were given a chapter to read in your American history class about the Gettysburg Address, write down what you already know about this historic document. How might thinking through this prior knowledge help you better understand the text?

Asking Questions

Humans are naturally curious beings. As you read actively, you should be asking questions about the topic you are reading. Don’t just say the questions in your mind; write them down. You may ask: Why is this topic important? What is the relevance of this topic currently? Was this topic important a long time ago but irrelevant now? Why did my professor assign this reading?

You need a place where you can actually write down these questions; a separate page in your notes is a good place to begin. If you are taking notes on your computer, start a new document and write down the questions. Leave some room to answer the questions when you begin and again after you read.

Inferring and Implying

When you read, you can take the information on the page and infer , or conclude responses to related challenges from evidence or from your own reasoning. A student will likely be able to infer what material the professor will include on an exam by taking good notes throughout the classes leading up to the test.

Writers may imply information without directly stating a fact for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a writer may not want to come out explicitly and state a bias, but may imply or hint at his or her preference for one political party or another. You have to read carefully to find implications because they are indirect, but watching for them will help you comprehend the whole meaning of a passage.

Learning Vocabulary

Vocabulary specific to certain disciplines helps practitioners in that field engage and communicate with each other. Few people beyond undertakers and archeologists likely use the term sarcophagus in everyday communications, but for those disciplines, it is a meaningful distinction. Looking at the example, you can use context clues to figure out the meaning of the term sarcophagus because it is something undertakers and/or archeologists would recognize. At the very least, you can guess that it has something to do with death. As a potential professional in the field you’re studying, you need to know the lingo. You may already have a system in place to learn discipline-specific vocabulary, so use what you know works for you. Two strong strategies are to look up words in a dictionary (online or hard copy) to ensure you have the exact meaning for your discipline and to keep a dedicated list of words you see often in your reading. You can list the words with a short definition so you have a quick reference guide to help you learn the vocabulary.

Intelligent people always question and evaluate. This doesn’t mean they don’t trust others; they just need verification of facts to understand a topic well. It doesn’t make sense to learn incomplete or incorrect information about a subject just because you didn’t take the time to evaluate all the sources at your disposal. When early explorers were afraid to sail the world for fear of falling off the edge, they weren’t stupid; they just didn’t have all the necessary data to evaluate the situation.

When you evaluate a text, you are seeking to understand the presented topic. Depending on how long the text is, you will perform a number of steps and repeat many of these steps to evaluate all the elements the author presents. When you evaluate a text, you need to do the following:

  • Scan the title and all headings.
  • Read through the entire passage fully.
  • Question what main point the author is making.
  • Decide who the audience is.
  • Identify what evidence/support the author uses.
  • Consider if the author presents a balanced perspective on the main point.
  • Recognize if the author introduced any biases in the text.

When you go through a text looking for each of these elements, you need to go beyond just answering the surface question; for instance, the audience may be a specific field of scientists, but could anyone else understand the text with some explanation? Why would that be important?

Analysis Question

Think of an article you need to read for a class. Take the steps above on how to evaluate a text, and apply the steps to the article. When you accomplish the task in each step, ask yourself and take notes to answer the question: Why is this important? For example, when you read the title, does that give you any additional information that will help you comprehend the text? If the text were written for a different audience, what might the author need to change to accommodate that group? How does an author’s bias distort an argument? This deep evaluation allows you to fully understand the main ideas and place the text in context with other material on the same subject, with current events, and within the discipline.

When you learn something new, it always connects to other knowledge you already have. One challenge we have is applying new information. It may be interesting to know the distance to the moon, but how do we apply it to something we need to do? If your biology instructor asked you to list several challenges of colonizing Mars and you do not know much about that planet’s exploration, you may be able to use your knowledge of how far Earth is from the moon to apply it to the new task. You may have to read several other texts in addition to reading graphs and charts to find this information.

That was the challenge the early space explorers faced along with myriad unknowns before space travel was a more regular occurrence. They had to take what they already knew and could study and read about and apply it to an unknown situation. These explorers wrote down their challenges, failures, and successes, and now scientists read those texts as a part of the ever-growing body of text about space travel. Application is a sophisticated level of thinking that helps turn theory into practice and challenges into successes.

Preparing to Read for Specific Disciplines in College

Different disciplines in college may have specific expectations, but you can depend on all subjects asking you to read to some degree. In this college reading requirement, you can succeed by learning to read actively, researching the topic and author, and recognizing how your own preconceived notions affect your reading. Reading for college isn’t the same as reading for pleasure or even just reading to learn something on your own because you are casually interested.

In college courses, your instructor may ask you to read articles, chapters, books, or primary sources (those original documents about which we write and study, such as letters between historic figures or the Declaration of Independence). Your instructor may want you to have a general background on a topic before you dive into that subject in class, so that you know the history of a topic, can start thinking about it, and can engage in a class discussion with more than a passing knowledge of the issue.

If you are about to participate in an in-depth six-week consideration of the U.S. Constitution but have never read it or anything written about it, you will have a hard time looking at anything in detail or understanding how and why it is significant. As you can imagine, a great deal has been written about the Constitution by scholars and citizens since the late 1700s when it was first put to paper (that’s how they did it then). While the actual document isn’t that long (about 12–15 pages depending on how it is presented), learning the details on how it came about, who was involved, and why it was and still is a significant document would take a considerable amount of time to read and digest. So, how do you do it all? Especially when you may have an instructor who drops hints that you may also love to read a historic novel covering the same time period . . . in your spare time , not required, of course! It can be daunting, especially if you are taking more than one course that has time-consuming reading lists. With a few strategic techniques, you can manage it all, but know that you must have a plan and schedule your required reading so you are also able to pick up that recommended historic novel—it may give you an entirely new perspective on the issue.

Strategies for Reading in College Disciplines

No universal law exists for how much reading instructors and institutions expect college students to undertake for various disciplines. Suffice it to say, it’s a LOT.

For most students, it is the volume of reading that catches them most off guard when they begin their college careers. A full course load might require 10–15 hours of reading per week, some of that covering content that will be more difficult than the reading for other courses.

You cannot possibly read word-for-word every single document you need to read for all your classes. That doesn’t mean you give up or decide to only read for your favorite classes or concoct a scheme to read 17 percent for each class and see how that works for you. You need to learn to skim, annotate, and take notes. All of these techniques will help you comprehend more of what you read, which is why we read in the first place. We’ll talk more later about annotating and note-taking, but for now consider what you know about skimming as opposed to active reading.

Skimming is not just glancing over the words on a page (or screen) to see if any of it sticks. Effective skimming allows you to take in the major points of a passage without the need for a time-consuming reading session that involves your active use of notations and annotations. Often you will need to engage in that painstaking level of active reading, but skimming is the first step—not an alternative to deep reading. The fact remains that neither do you need to read everything nor could you possibly accomplish that given your limited time. So learn this valuable skill of skimming as an accompaniment to your overall study tool kit, and with practice and experience, you will fully understand how valuable it is.

When you skim, look for guides to your understanding: headings, definitions, pull quotes, tables, and context clues. Textbooks are often helpful for skimming—they may already have made some of these skimming guides in bold or a different color, and chapters often follow a predictable outline. Some even provide an overview and summary for sections or chapters. Use whatever you can get, but don’t stop there. In textbooks that have some reading guides, or especially in text that does not, look for introductory words such as First or The purpose of this article  . . . or summary words such as In conclusion  . . . or Finally . These guides will help you read only those sentences or paragraphs that will give you the overall meaning or gist of a passage or book.

Now move to the meat of the passage. You want to take in the reading as a whole. For a book, look at the titles of each chapter if available. Read each chapter’s introductory paragraph and determine why the writer chose this particular order. Depending on what you’re reading, the chapters may be only informational, but often you’re looking for a specific argument. What position is the writer claiming? What support, counterarguments, and conclusions is the writer presenting?

Don’t think of skimming as a way to buzz through a boring reading assignment. It is a skill you should master so you can engage, at various levels, with all the reading you need to accomplish in college. End your skimming session with a few notes—terms to look up, questions you still have, and an overall summary. And recognize that you likely will return to that book or article for a more thorough reading if the material is useful.

Active Reading Strategies

Active reading differs significantly from skimming or reading for pleasure. You can think of active reading as a sort of conversation between you and the text (maybe between you and the author, but you don’t want to get the author’s personality too involved in this metaphor because that may skew your engagement with the text).

When you sit down to determine what your different classes expect you to read and you create a reading schedule to ensure you complete all the reading, think about when you should read the material strategically, not just how to get it all done . You should read textbook chapters and other reading assignments before you go into a lecture about that information. Don’t wait to see how the lecture goes before you read the material, or you may not understand the information in the lecture. Reading before class helps you put ideas together between your reading and the information you hear and discuss in class.

Different disciplines naturally have different types of texts, and you need to take this into account when you schedule your time for reading class material. For example, you may look at a poem for your world literature class and assume that it will not take you long to read because it is relatively short compared to the dense textbook you have for your economics class. But reading and understanding a poem can take a considerable amount of time when you realize you may need to stop numerous times to review the separate word meanings and how the words form images and connections throughout the poem.

The SQ3R Reading Strategy

You may have heard of the SQ3R method for active reading in your early education. This valuable technique is perfect for college reading. The title stands for S urvey, Q uestion, R ead, R ecite, R eview, and you can use the steps on virtually any assigned passage. Designed by Francis Pleasant Robinson in his 1961 book Effective Study, the active reading strategy gives readers a systematic way to work through any reading material.

Survey is similar to skimming. You look for clues to meaning by reading the titles, headings, introductions, summary, captions for graphics, and keywords. You can survey almost anything connected to the reading selection, including the copyright information, the date of the journal article, or the names and qualifications of the author(s). In this step, you decide what the general meaning is for the reading selection.

Question is your creation of questions to seek the main ideas, support, examples, and conclusions of the reading selection. Ask yourself these questions separately. Try to create valid questions about what you are about to read that have come into your mind as you engaged in the Survey step. Try turning the headings of the sections in the chapter into questions. Next, how does what you’re reading relate to you, your school, your community, and the world?

Read is when you actually read the passage. Try to find the answers to questions you developed in the previous step. Decide how much you are reading in chunks, either by paragraph for more complex readings or by section or even by an entire chapter. When you finish reading the selection, stop to make notes. Answer the questions by writing a note in the margin or other white space of the text.

You may also carefully underline or highlight text in addition to your notes. Use caution here that you don’t try to rush this step by haphazardly circling terms or the other extreme of underlining huge chunks of text. Don’t over-mark. You aren’t likely to remember what these cryptic marks mean later when you come back to use this active reading session to study. The text is the source of information—your marks and notes are just a way to organize and make sense of that information.

Recite means to speak out loud. By reciting, you are engaging other senses to remember the material—you read it (visual) and you said it (auditory). Stop reading momentarily in the step to answer your questions or clarify confusing sentences or paragraphs. You can recite a summary of what the text means to you. If you are not in a place where you can verbalize, such as a library or classroom, you can accomplish this step adequately by  saying  it in your head; however, to get the biggest bang for your buck, try to find a place where you can speak aloud. You may even want to try explaining the content to a friend.

Review is a recap. Go back over what you read and add more notes, ensuring you have captured the main points of the passage, identified the supporting evidence and examples, and understood the overall meaning. You may need to repeat some or all of the SQR3 steps during your review depending on the length and complexity of the material. Before you end your active reading session, write a short (no more than one page is optimal) summary of the text you read.

Reading Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary sources are original documents we study and from which we glean information; primary sources include letters, first editions of books, legal documents, and a variety of other texts. When scholars look at these documents to understand a period in history or a scientific challenge and then write about their findings, the scholar’s article is considered a secondary source. Readers have to keep several factors in mind when reading both primary and secondary sources.

Primary sources may contain dated material we now know is inaccurate. It may contain personal beliefs and biases the original writer didn’t intent to be openly published, and it may even present fanciful or creative ideas that do not support current knowledge. Readers can still gain great insight from primary sources, but readers need to understand the context from which the writer of the primary source wrote the text.

Likewise, secondary sources are inevitably another person’s perspective on the primary source, so a reader of secondary sources must also be aware of potential biases or preferences the secondary source writer inserts in the writing that may persuade an incautious reader to interpret the primary source in a particular manner.

For example, if you were to read a secondary source that is examining the U.S. Declaration of Independence (the primary source), you would have a much clearer idea of how the secondary source scholar presented the information from the primary source if you also read the Declaration for yourself instead of trusting the other writer’s interpretation. Most scholars are honest in writing secondary sources, but you as a reader of the source are trusting the writer to present a balanced perspective of the primary source. When possible, you should attempt to read a primary source in conjunction with the secondary source. The Internet helps immensely with this practice.

What Students Say

  • How engaging the material is or how much I enjoy reading it.
  • Whether or not the course is part of my major.
  • Whether or not the instructor assesses knowledge from the reading (through quizzes, for example), or requires assignments based on the reading.
  • Whether or not knowledge or information from the reading is required to participate in lecture.
  • I read all of the assigned material.
  • I read most of the assigned material.
  • I skim the text and read the captions, examples, or summaries.
  • I use a systematic method such as the Cornell method or something similar.
  • I highlight or underline all the important information.
  • I create outlines and/or note-cards.
  • I use an app or program.
  • I write notes in my text (print or digital).
  • I don’t have a style. I just write down what seems important.
  • I don't take many notes.

You can also take the anonymous What Students Say surveys to add your voice to this textbook. Your responses will be included in updates.

Students offered their views on these questions, and the results are displayed in the graphs below.

What is the most influential factor in how thoroughly you read the material for a given course?

An image shows the front and back cover page of a book titled “Talking Outsourcing” authored by Mark Kobayashi – Hillary.

What best describes your reading approach for required texts/materials for your classes?

A horizontal bar graph plots the percentage of students’ responses.

What best describes your note-taking style?

A horizontal bar graph plots the percentage of students’ responses on assigned materials.

Researching Topic and Author

During your preview stage, sometimes called pre-reading, you can easily pick up on information from various sources that may help you understand the material you’re reading more fully or place it in context with other important works in the discipline. If your selection is a book, flip it over or turn to the back pages and look for an author’s biography or note from the author. See if the book itself contains any other information about the author or the subject matter.

The main things you need to recall from your reading in college are the topics covered and how the information fits into the discipline. You can find these parts throughout the textbook chapter in the form of headings in larger and bold font, summary lists, and important quotations pulled out of the narrative. Use these features as you read to help you determine what the most important ideas are.

A horizontal bar graph plots the students’ responses regarding different application and program usage.

Remember, many books use quotations about the book or author as testimonials in a marketing approach to sell more books, so these may not be the most reliable sources of unbiased opinions, but it’s a start. Sometimes you can find a list of other books the author has written near the front of a book. Do you recognize any of the other titles? Can you do an Internet search for the name of the book or author? Go beyond the search results that want you to buy the book and see if you can glean any other relevant information about the author or the reading selection. Beyond a standard Internet search, try the library article database. These are more relevant to academic disciplines and contain resources you typically will not find in a standard search engine. If you are unfamiliar with how to use the library database, ask a reference librarian on campus. They are often underused resources that can point you in the right direction.

Understanding Your Own Preset Ideas on a Topic

Laura really enjoys learning about environmental issues. She has read many books and watched numerous televised documentaries on this topic and actively seeks out additional information on the environment. While Laura’s interest can help her understand a new reading encounter about the environment, Laura also has to be aware that with this interest, she also brings forward her preset ideas and biases about the topic. Sometimes these prejudices against other ideas relate to religion or nationality or even just tradition. Without evidence, thinking the way we always have is not a good enough reason; evidence can change, and at the very least it needs honest review and assessment to determine its validity. Ironically, we may not want to learn new ideas because that may mean we would have to give up old ideas we have already mastered, which can be a daunting prospect.

With every reading situation about the environment, Laura needs to remain open-minded about what she is about to read and pay careful attention if she begins to ignore certain parts of the text because of her preconceived notions. Learning new information can be very difficult if you balk at ideas that are different from what you’ve always thought. You may have to force yourself to listen to a different viewpoint multiple times to make sure you are not closing your mind to a viable solution your mindset does not currently allow.

Can you think of times you have struggled reading college content for a course? Which of these strategies might have helped you understand the content? Why do you think those strategies would work?

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18 Warm-Up Activities to Engage Students Before They Read Nonfiction Texts

Here is a collection of our favorite “bell ringers,” “do nows” and “hooks” to grab students’ attention, along with examples from dozens of our daily lessons.

reading on topic

By The Learning Network

How can you get your students interested in reading informational texts, whether the topic is Syria or sneakers , space exploration or statistics , surfing , superheroes or “ the souls of Black girls ”? How can you help them make connections between unfamiliar topics and their own lives? How can you scaffold complex ideas to make them accessible for a wide variety of learners?

We’ve had lots of practice answering these questions. Our editorial staff — all of us former teachers — comes up with a fresh before-reading activity, or “warm-up,” for every Lesson of the Day we publish. We now have over 700 of them, all based on Times articles chosen from across sections of the paper, and all free to students around the world.

Here we’ve combed through the collection, organized the strategies that we use most frequently and provided examples so that you can see how they work. Each is intended to be a brief activity — an appetizer before the main course. You can find them all listed here in this downloadable poster (PDF).

But we also hope to hear from you. Let us know in the comments section or by emailing us at [email protected] if you have other warm-up suggestions you think we should try. We’d love to lengthen this list!

1. Make it personal.

When have you faced a difficult journey or challenge? What role do video games play in your life? What do you know about your family history and ancestry? Do you read or write poetry? Have you ever believed in magic?

We all work hard to help students make connections between school content and their real lives, and sometimes all it takes is a simple question.

For instance, to introduce an article about Henry David Thoreau and his experience at Walden Pond , we ask students if they liked to spend time alone, and what the benefits and drawbacks of solitude have been for them. For a piece about the science of dog behavior , we ask about their experiences with dogs and their observations about the special bond these animals have with humans. And to ease them into an article about redefining the quinceañera , we invite students to write and think about their own experiences with coming-of-age rituals of all kinds.

Students can explore these personal connections through writing in a journal, using sentence starters , talking with a partner, taking a temperature check , or sketching a concept or identity map .

2. Start with an image …

Look at the picture above and answer these three questions about it, in as much detail as you can: What is going on in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can you find?

That’s how a lesson on an article about wild animals and the pandemic begins. We borrowed the three questions from our weekly “ What’s Going On in This Picture? ” protocol, because we know it invites students not only to speculate, but to provide evidence for their ideas — all of which help lead them seamlessly into the article.

In another example, we invite students to discuss the thoughts and feelings that come up when they view this illustration before reading an article about self-harm :

Sometimes we provide students with a group of images to explore, as we do in this lesson based on the multimedia feature “How Black Lives Matter Reached Every Corner of America ,” or in this lesson about Caribbean Carnival . In a physical classroom, these photos can be used in a gallery walk activity .

3. … or a video.

We begin many of our Lessons of the Day with short videos — some from the article itself, some from related pieces in The Times and some from a reliable outside source, like National Geographic or the BBC.

Can street dance be a fine art? Before reading about Lil Buck and his belief that Memphis jookin can be no less rigorous than classical ballet, students watch the four-minute video above, “Nobody Knows,” that showcases his breathtaking artistry and discipline.

We also use video to engage students emotionally with a news story that might feel distant or complicated. In our lesson plan about China’s detention of Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region, for instance, students watch a Times Opinion video featuring the voices and stories of young people whose parents have been imprisoned in the camps.

We often ask students to process what they view through journaling or in discussion with a partner, using prompts drawn from our Film Club feature : What moments in this film stood out for you? Was there anything that challenged what you know — or thought you knew? What messages, emotions or ideas will you take away from this film? What connections can you make between this film and your own life or experience?

4. Analyze a graph or map.

Thanks to the excellent graphs and maps The Times produces on subjects as varied as nutrition choices and music fandom , we often use this kind of multimedia to invite students to make observations and ask questions about a topic before they immerse themselves in it.

For example, before reading about how LeBron James is leading a generation of athletes into ownership , students look at the graph of racial disparities between players of color and head coaches of color in sports.

For a warm-up to introduce a Times article on past vaccine drives , including smallpox and polio, students look at maps of Covid-19 vaccination rates across the United States and in their own community.

And before learning about the connection between the decline in Chinese restaurants across America and the economic mobility of the second generation, students analyze a graph that uses data from the restaurant reviewing website Yelp.

Video player loading

What does the sun look like? You have probably drawn a picture of the sun at some point in your life: a simple yellow circle with lines or triangles surrounding it. Do you think it really looks like that? Based on what you know about the sun — its structure and makeup — what do you think its surface actually looks like? Is it perfectly round? Smooth? Rough? Uniform or varied? Is it the color of the yellow in a box of crayons? Or something more complex? Take a few minutes and make a sketch of the surface of the sun.

We recognize that most warm-ups take only a few minutes at the start of class, so there usually isn’t time to have students create an artistic masterpiece. But, as you can see in the activity above, used at the start of a lesson plan about newly released photos of the sun’s surface , sometimes it does make sense to have students make a quick sketch. By inviting students to draw, we’re really asking them to think — perhaps about something they’ve never thought about before.

Drawing can also be a fun way to get students to share their own unique perspectives. Before reading an article on sexist double standards facing women who run for political office , we prompt students to draw what they think an effective president looks like, adding words that describe the appearance, qualities and behaviors of a leader. A warm-up for an article on machine design asks students to sketch what they think of when they hear the word “robot.” For an article discussing possible life on Venus , we prompt students to draw what they imagine extraterrestrial life in the universe to look like.

Drawing a “mind map” also counts. In this lesson about a school for basketball careers , we invite students to visually brainstorm every job they can think of that is related to their favorite sport: management of players and teams, training, marketing, merchandising, keeping statistics and more.

The goal isn’t to test students’ illustration skills, of course, but to allow them to express their creativity and imagination, as well as to see the range of visual ideas in a single classroom.

6. Ask for predictions.

reading on topic

Is it possible to bounce a water balloon off a bed of nails? Do you think your N.F.L. team will make the playoffs this year? If I touched the moon, what would it feel like? Sometimes asking students to anticipate what they’re about to read by making guesses or advancing theories about the topic can give them a stake in finding answers. The three questions above, we hope, do just that.

Take the second question in the list above: Before exploring the math behind any N.F.L. team’s playoff chances , we invite students to make their own predictions and then compare them with The Times’s computer simulator.

Here’s another example: We ask students to make predictions before reading an article about how distracted walkers can affect pedestrian flow : What do you think would happen if several people were walking while looking at their phones in a crowded school hallway or on a busy sidewalk? How might these distracted walkers affect the way the crowd moved, if at all? After students make those predictions, they are more prepared to understand the results of a recent study — and to do our “going further” activities that take those results and use them for real purposes in their own communities.

Making predictions in advance of reading a text can help to give students a purpose for reading, providing a “need to know” as they look for answers to their conjectures. For example, in this lesson, about teenagers and their social ties during the pandemic, we invite students to begin by making a list of all the roles their friends play in their lives. Then, before reading what experts on adolescent development and mental health have to say in the article, they compare their lists and try to predict some of the reasons the experts would give for why pandemic isolation has been particularly hard on teenagers.

7. Take a stand on an issue.

How do you feel about the following claims? With which do you agree, or strongly agree? With which do you disagree, or even strongly disagree? Why?

Participating in sports builds valuable skills for young people. The risk of long-term brain damage for professional football players is very high. The risk of long-term brain damage for youth football is very low. If I were a parent, I would not let my 13-year-old play tackle football.

This is how we introduce students to an article exploring how a small Texas city is struggling over the question of whether to allow 13-year-olds to play tackle football .

Beginning a class with this kind of “ Four Corners ” debate, which prompts students to show their position on a specific statement (strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree) by standing in a particular corner of the room, is a great way to get students out of the seats and to take a stand — literally and figuratively. Another version? The “ Human Barometer ,” which asks students to line up along a continuum based on their position on an issue. We often use one of these two protocols when tackling a nonfiction text exploring a topic with disagreement or controversy surrounding it.

In a warm-up to an article on state cuts to food stamp programs , we ask students to take a stand on the statement: “The government has a responsibility to make sure no Americans go hungry.” And to introduce an article on the lucrative opportunities enjoyed by some college “cheerlebrities, ” we ask students to decide where they stand on the statement: “College cheerleaders should be able to make money through things like endorsement deals, brand partnerships and sponsored social media posts.”

The idea is not that there is one correct viewpoint or perspective, but to begin to understand the contours of a public debate and start to unpack the arguments in favor of contending stances.

After reading the featured article, students can return to the Barometer or Four Corners warm-up activities and revisit their stances to see if — and how — they and their classmates have revised their opinions.

8. Invite student-to-student discussion.

The think-pair-share . The turn-and-talk . Most teachers are familiar with these quick activities that invite students to talk with a partner — as tools to make sure every student in the class is involved. And when students use them to discuss ideas, reactions and experiences during a warm-up, they become active learners right from the start.

We generally ask students to do a little writing and thinking before conversing with a classmate so they’re ready to enter the discussion with something to say. For example, to introduce a lesson about the history of Black American Sign Language , we invite students to first quick-write and then turn and talk about how they use language in different settings.

Before reading an article on how to argue more productively , we first invite students to engage in some “joyful disagreements,” debating such thorny questions as “Does pineapple belong on pizza?” and “How does the roll of toilet paper go on the holder?”

Sometimes we employ slightly more structured or elaborate discussion strategies, like the “ speed dating ” exercise in this lesson plan about art appreciation . In a face-to-face setting, students pair up to answer a question or to discuss a topic for three to five minutes and then quickly form new pairings to discuss a different question or topic — and continue that way for several rounds.

9. Make something — or do something.

Warm-up activities don’t always have to focus on reading, writing or discussion. Often we try to make them literally hands-on.

In a lesson plan about the art of origami , for instance, it just makes sense to invite students to experiment with origami before they begin reading. Afterward, we ask them to reflect on the process and describe what was challenging, what was fun and what techniques they used.

Sometimes a warm-up is less hands-on than lips-, teeth-, tongue-, jaw- and throat-on, as in this lesson plan about beatboxers , which invites students to experiment with making different types of sounds and beats with their mouth and voice alone.

And for a lesson on the complexities of language’s origins , we ask them to choose one of the 26 letters in the alphabet and imagine they have to explain how to make the sound of that letter to a young child or someone who has never heard or spoken it before. To do so, they first have to experiment with saying the letter in different ways — at different speeds, for example, or by exaggerating the movement of their mouths and lips — while paying close attention to what their bodies are doing as they make the sound.

10. Try a mini-experiment.

Spinning water droplets that seemingly defy physics, chinese researchers have discovered a new way to make water droplets spin, creating a potential new kind of hydropower..

I bet you’ve never seen water do this: twist and turn like a dancer in flight. It happens when a droplet lands on a water-repellent surface with a special pattern. These acrobatic leaps were recorded by Chinese scientists investigating new ways to manipulate water. To understand what they did, let’s step back and see what Isaac Newton had to say about bouncing objects. According to Newton, when an object hits a solid surface, some of the energy of the impact is translated into a rebound. Think of a ball hitting concrete. If the ball travels straight down with no spin, it should bounce straight up again. And it’s the same with a water droplet on a water-repellent surface. Theoretically, the droplet should bounce straight up — no fancy stuff. But the researchers created a pattern of adhesive material on the surface that water sticks to. The water in contact with the sticky patches recoils more slowly than the water touching the repellent surface, and that makes the droplets spin. Change the pattern of the adhesive, and you change the shape of the dancing droplet. The researchers made swirls and half-moons and dotted circles, each of which caused the water to behave differently, sometimes even bouncing sideways. Scientists also showed how the energy of the droplets could be harvested. They set up a magnetically suspended surface. As the droplet landed on the surface and rebounded, it pushed down the plate and caused it to spin. It’s a new kind of hydropower. And at their peak, those droplets are spinning at a whopping 7,300 revolutions per minute. So apart from creating a water droplet ballet, scientists have also found a new way to harvest energy. And their work might help in designing self-cleaning airplane wings. For now, it’s enough to have the pleasure of watching the leaps and pirouettes of those dancing drops.

Video player loading

Try out a mini-experiment testing the way water reacts to different types of surfaces. First, gather a few surfaces with varying textures — rough, smooth, grainy, oily, soft, hard or bumpy. You might use a desktop, a sheet of textured paper, an aluminum can or pavement. Then, using a dropper, Pasteur pipette or straw, drip water on the different surfaces. Record your observations.

This is how we begin our lesson about dancing water droplets that reveals the startling ways water seems to dance. Students then watch the short video above and compare their observations with those of scientists.

For science-related nonfiction texts, you might try a mini-experiment that doesn’t require a lot of materials and is quick and easy to do. For example, before reading an article about how scientists use paper as a model to study other crumpling challenges — such as how DNA packs into a cell, or how best to cram a giant solar sail into a small satellite — we ask students to ball up pieces of paper and take notes about patterns they notice.

Some experiments might be too long for a “hook” activity, but a short hands-on activity can be a great, interactive way to get early buy-in from students.

11. Try a thought experiment.

Imagine a situation where all cars and public transportation suddenly disappeared — and all you had for travel was a bicycle: How would it affect you and your family?

Sometimes prompting students to imagine alternate realities can open their minds to a new way of seeing a problem or issue. For instance, the prompt above begins a lesson plan about the most bike-friendly city in the world , Copenhagen.

For a lesson about a library’s exhibition on 5,000 years of writing , we ask students to imagine if humans had never invented a written language. How would the world be different?

And before reading about why monkeys have tails while apes and humans don’t , we prompt students to imagine their lives if they had this curious appendage — whether short, long, bushy or striped. What are at least five cool things they could do with it?

12. Observe nature — or the human environment.

Take five minutes and simply look at the clouds in the sky.

This simple instruction begins our lesson on the Cloud Appreciation Society .

Sometimes the best way to engage students can be the easiest and mostly readily at hand: Look around you, pay close attention to something, watch and observe.

To introduce the complicated topic of the disrupted global supply chain , we ask students to look at the labels on their clothing, sneakers, electronics or anything else they own and find out where they’re made. What trends do they notice as they share their data across the class or in small groups?

In a warm-up to an article on a scientific experiment studying the blinking of birds , we ask students to take several minutes to study and observe their own blinking: Does the quality and the quantity of blinking change in different settings or lighting? When sitting versus standing? When looking at something nearby or far in the distance? When is your blinking voluntary and when is it involuntary?

Students can use their simple observations to form questions or a hypothesis, helping both to build engagement and to frame the reading.

13. Activate prior knowledge.

Students approach any new topic with varying degrees of prior knowledge, so inviting them to consider what they may have already read, heard or watched on that topic can serve multiple purposes.

For starters, it can help classmates share ideas and information at the start of a lesson. It can also help to surface any misinformation that students might have. And it can give students an opportunity to ask questions before they dive into the reading.

Many teachers are familiar with the classic K/W/L chart — a graphic organizer that organizes what students “ k now,” “ w ant to know,” and “have l earned” in three columns — and we use them often, too, in lesson plans on topics like the Harlem Renaissance , women’s suffrage movement and presidential election process .

Sometimes we simply ask students to share in their journals or in pairs: “What do you know — or think you know — about a particular subject?” Our lesson about the ways in which the British spy agency M15 promotes itself on social media asks this to help students brainstorm what they might already know on the broad topic of spies and spying — but also, we hope, to get them excited to learn some surprising things about how espionage agencies operate today.

And sometimes we just want to show students they know more than they think they know. For example, in a lesson about applying to college during a pandemic , we suggest that students brainstorm a list of all the steps, big and small, a high school student traditionally takes as part of the college application process. Then we ask them to go back through that list and put an X through each step that was somehow disrupted by the pandemic. This not only helps them see that they are coming to the Times article with a great deal of background knowledge already, but also helps them anticipate the issues they will be reading about.

14. Respond to a quote.

Video player loading

Consider the following statement: “History is never neutral.” What do you think that means? Do you agree with its premise? Why or why not? Can you think of any examples that support or contradict this statement?

A particularly provocative or juicy quote or statement can often be an effective way to get students thinking deeply about a subject even before they read an article. The example above introduces our lesson plan about state history textbooks .

Sometimes the most powerful warm-up quote comes right from the article. We begin a lesson about a California homeless camp with the following quote from Markaya Spikes, a woman who was living in the camp at the time:

Homeless people are treated worse than stray animals. When someone finds a stray animal they take it home and feed it. When someone sees a homeless person they call the police. Where is the compassion?

We ask students, What is your immediate reaction to reading the quotation? What words stand out to you? Does the quotation bring up an emotional response? Do you have any desire to respond to Ms. Spikes? What might you say to her?

Or quotes can come from famous adages, mottos or sayings. For a lesson profiling people who pursued deferred dreams later in their lives , we ask students to consider two sayings: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” and “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” Then, they reflect on which they find more accurate and true to life.

15. Take a quiz.

OK … pop quiz!

1. How many bacteria can fit on the head of a pin? a) 1,000 b) 1 million c) 1 billion d) 1 trillion 2. How many Earths could you fit inside our sun? a) 10 b) 100 c) 1,000 d) 1 million

This is how we start a lesson on the popularity of videos demonstrating relative size on YouTube. We don’t expect students to know the answers beforehand, but it is a quick way to introduce them to mind-boggling magnitudes in the universe.

Another example: For a lesson about race and biology , we start with a short true-or-false quiz. True or false? “Race is determined solely by biology.” In addition to piquing students’ curiosity, a quiz like this can surface common misconceptions quickly.

We also use premade quizzes from The Learning Network, The Times or other reliable sources. If a lesson plan features a specific country, like Myanmar or Cuba , we often start with a Country of the Week quiz . And we occasionally send students to a Times science or news quiz, like we did for this lesson about the danger of added sugars in our diets or this lesson on climate change solutions .

These quizzes are always intended as learning “hooks,” though, and never as graded assessments. We want them to get students thinking and to evoke their curiosity, not intimidate them.

16. Pro/con, cause/effect, problem/solution: Make a list.

Whether it’s generating pros and cons, causes and effects, arguments for and against, or problems and solutions, brainstorming a list can be an effective warm-up to get students’ minds active. They can make a list individually or with a partner, and they can share examples with the class before jumping into the text. Then, as they read the related piece, they will often find their own ideas reflected.

For example, in a lesson about Marvel’s first Asian superhero film, Shang-Chi , we ask students to take a few minutes to make a list of common superhero stereotypes they have read in comic books or seen in movies.

Before reading the article, “ Here Comes the Bride. And the Bride. And the Bride. Mass Weddings Boom in Lebanon ,” we invite students to make a list of the pros and cons for a young couple thinking about participating in a wedding ceremony that might include as many as dozens, hundreds or even thousands of couples.

To introduce an article on the discovery that bird populations in the United States and Canada had fallen by 29 percent since 1970, a loss of nearly three billion birds, we ask students to make two lists, one for possible causes of this loss and another for the possible effects. And for a lesson on theater programs in prison , we challenge students to consider the purpose of prison: punishment, rehabilitation and deterrence, making a list of arguments for each.

17. Preview a text.

Sometimes an effective warm-up activity can simply be to give students a taste of the article they’re about the read. If the opening lines or top images are engaging enough, then the article can serve as its own preview.

To preview an article on the popular video game Among Us, we ask students to respond to a quote from a teenager:

“A few weeks ago I went from not hearing anything about it to hearing everything about it everywhere,” said Judah Rice, 16, a high school student in Texas. “People are texting about it, I know people who are on dedicated Discord servers and Among Us group chats. I have friends who get together all the time and play it.”

Then we invite them to pretend they are a Times reporter who has been assigned to write an article for a mostly adult audience about the popularity of this game among teenagers. What are all of the things they would want and need to include? Why?

Previewing can also be done by having students read and react to a provocative first paragraph, like this one from a piece on the spread of misinformation :

There’s a decent chance you’ve had at least one of these rumors, all false, relayed to you as fact recently: that President Biden plans to force Americans to eat less meat ; that Virginia is eliminating advanced math in schools to advance racial equality; and that border officials are mass-purchasing copies of Vice President Kamala Harris’s book to hand out to refugee children.

Or it can mean inviting students to scroll through the images and text, enough to get them to notice and wonder about the article, and make predictions for what the rest of the article will be about. That’s how we start our lesson about the Tulsa Race Riots . It’s also what we do with a Twitter account “written” by Katharine the great white shark , who has a lot of teach about shark behavior.

Sometimes it might make sense for the teacher to read the article’s opening lines aloud and for students to react. Often it works best when students do this preview activity individually or in pairs.

18. Define key terms.

Students will often run into unfamiliar words and terms when reading nonfiction texts, perhaps words like decolonize, divestment or gender-nonconforming .

A warm-up activity can introduce students to this key vocabulary in advance, so they can better understand the text they’re about to read. One vocabulary-building strategy we sometimes use is a Frayer model , a graphic organizer that guides students to note the definition, characteristics, examples and nonexamples of the term.

For example, we invite students to define the word “decolonize” before reading the article “ Decolonizing the Hunt for Dinosaurs and Other Fossils ” and “divestment” before reading an article about fossil fuel divestment .

And in a lesson plan about remembering the lives of influential Latinos , we provide students with a list of 10 words from the article they may not know, such as ventriloquism and embargo, and encourage them to use this list of words and their definitions to learn what each means and to practice using the words.

We hope this collection helps to expand your teaching toolbox of warm-ups, bell ringers, “do nows” and hooks when you approach any informational text — from The Times or any other source.

But, we know, of course, that there are many more ways to introduce nonfiction texts. Let us know in the comments section or by emailing us at if you have other warm-up suggestions you think we should try. We’d love to expand our list!

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  • Topics, Main Ideas, and Support

Identifying Topics, Main Ideas, and Supporting Details

Understanding the topic , the gist , or the larger conceptual framework of a textbook chapter, an article, a paragraph, a sentence or a passage is a sophisticated reading task.  Being able to draw conclusions, evaluate, and critically interpret articles or chapters is important for overall comprehension in college reading.  Textbook chapters, articles, paragraphs, sentences, or passages all have topics and main ideas.  The topic is the broad, general theme or message.  It is what some call the subject.  The main idea is the "key concept" being expressed.  Details , major and minor, support the main idea by telling how, what, when, where, why, how much, or how many.  Locating the topic, main idea, and supporting details helps you understand the point(s) the writer is attempting to express.  Identifying the relationship between these will increase your comprehension.

The successful communication of any author's topic is only as good as the organization the author uses to build and define his/her subject matter.

Grasping the Main Idea:

A paragraph is a group of sentences related to a particular topic, or central theme.  Every paragraph has a key concept or main idea.  The main idea is the most important piece of information the author wants you to know about the concept of that paragraph.

When authors write they have an idea in mind that they are trying to get across.  This is especially true as authors compose paragraphs.  An author organizes each paragraph's main idea and supporting details in support of the topic or central theme, and each paragraph supports the paragraph preceding it.

A writer will state his/her main idea explicitly somewhere in the paragraph.  That main idea may be stated at the beginning of the paragraph, in the middle, or at the end.  The sentence in which the main idea is stated is the topic sentence of that paragraph.

The topic sentence announces the general theme ( or portion of the theme) to be dealt with in the paragraph.  Although the topic sentence may appear anywhere in the paragraph, it is usually first – and for a very good reason.  This sentence provides the focus for the writer while writing and for the reader while reading.  When you find the topic sentence, be sure to underline it so that it will stand out not only now, but also later when you review.

Identifying the Topic:

The first thing you must be able to do to get at the main idea of a paragraph is to identify the topic – the subject of the paragraph.  Think of the paragraph as a wheel with the topic being the hub – the central core around which the whole wheel (or paragraph) spins.  Your strategy for topic identification is simply to ask yourself the question, "What is this about?"  Keep asking yourself that question as you read a paragraph, until the answer to your question becomes clear.  Sometimes you can spot the topic by looking for a word or two that repeat.  Usually you can state the topic in a few words.

Let us try this topic-finding strategy.  Reread the first paragraph under the heading Grasping the Main Idea .  Ask yourself the question, "What is this paragraph about?"  To answer, say to yourself in your mind, "The author keeps talking about paragraphs and the way they are designed.  This must be the topic – paragraph organization."  Reread the second paragraph of the same section.  Ask yourself, "What is this paragraph about?"  Did you say to yourself, "This paragraph is about different ways to organize a paragraph"?  That is the topic.  Next, reread the third paragraph and see if you can find the topic of the paragraph.  How?  Write the topic in the margin next to this paragraph.  Remember, getting the main idea of a paragraph is crucial to reading.

The bulk of an expository paragraph is made up of supporting sentences (major and minor details), which help to explain or prove the main idea.  These sentences present facts, reasons, examples, definitions, comparison, contrasts, and other pertinent details.  They are most important because they sell the main idea.

The last sentence of a paragraph is likely to be a concluding sentence. It is used to sum up a discussion, to emphasize a point, or to restate all or part of the topic sentence so as to bring the paragraph to a close.  The last sentence may also be a transitional sentence leading to the next paragraph.

Of course, the paragraphs you'll be reading will be part of some longer piece of writing – a textbook chapter, a section of a chapter, or a newspaper or magazine article.  Besides expository paragraphs, in which new information is presented and discussed, these longer writings contain three types of paragraphs: introductory , transitional , and summarizing .

Introductory paragraphs tell you, in advance, such things as (1) the main ideas of the chapter or section; (2) the extent or limits of the coverage; (3) how the topic is developed; and (4) the writer's attitude toward the topic.  Transitional paragraphs are usually short; their sole function is to tie together what you have read so far and what is to come – to set the stage for succeeding ideas of the chapter or section.  Summarizing paragraphs are used to restate briefly the main ideas of the chapter or section.  The writer may also draw some conclusion from these ideas, or speculate on some conclusion based on the evidence he/she has presented.

All three types should alert you: the introductory paragraph of things to come; the transitional paragraph of a new topic; and the summarizing paragraph of main ideas that you should have gotten.

Read the following paragraph and underline the stated main idea.  Write down in your own words what you are able to conclude from the information.

The rules of conduct during an examination are clear.  No books, calculators or papers are allowed in the test room.  Proctors will not allow anyone with such items to take the test.  Anyone caught cheating will be asked to leave the room.  His or her test sheet will be taken.  The incident will be reported to the proper authority.  At the end of the test period, all materials will be returned to the proctor.  Failure to abide by these rules will result in a failing grade for this test.

You should have underlined the first sentence in the paragraph – this is the stated main idea.  What can be concluded from the information is: If you do not follow the rules, you will automatically fail the test.  This concluding information is found in the last sentence.

You can't comprehend the subject matter if you haven't identified the topic, the main idea, and the supporting details.

  • Uses of Critical Thinking
  • Critically Evaluating the Logic and Validity of Information
  • Recognizing Propaganda Techniques and Errors of Faulty Logic
  • Developing the Ability to Analyze Historical and Contemporary Information
  • Recognize and Value Various Viewpoints
  • Appreciating the Complexities Involved in Decision-Making and Problem-Solving
  • Being a Responsible Critical Thinker & Collaborating with Others
  • Suggestions
  • Read the Textbook
  • When to Take Notes
  • 10 Steps to Tests
  • Studying for Exams
  • Test-Taking Errors
  • Test Anxiety
  • Objective Tests
  • Essay Tests
  • The Reading Process
  • Levels of Comprehension
  • Strengthen Your Reading Comprehension
  • Reading Rate
  • How to Read a Textbook
  • Organizational Patterns of a Paragraph
  • Inferences and Conclusions
  • Interpreting What You Read
  • Concentrating and Remembering
  • Converting Words into Pictures
  • Spelling and the Dictionary
  • Eight Essential Spelling Rules
  • Exceptions to the Rules
  • Motivation and Goal Setting
  • Effective Studying
  • Time Management
  • Listening and Note-Taking
  • Memory and Learning Styles
  • Textbook Reading Strategies
  • Memory Tips
  • Test-Taking Strategies
  • The First Step
  • Study System
  • Maximize Comprehension
  • Different Reading Modes
  • Paragraph Patterns
  • An Effective Strategy
  • Finding the Main Idea
  • Read a Medical Text
  • Read in the Sciences
  • Read University Level
  • Textbook Study Strategies
  • The Origin of Words
  • Using a Dictionary
  • Interpreting a Dictionary Entry
  • Structure Analysis
  • Common Roots
  • Word Relationships
  • Using Word Relationships
  • Context Clues
  • The Importance of Reading
  • Vocabulary Analogies
  • Guide to Talking with Instructors
  • Writing Help

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reading on topic

Learn how to ask questions about a text before, during, and after reading to improve your understanding of the text. Topics covered include using questioning to examine your purpose, expectations, attitude, and understanding of the topic; writing guide questions; using questioning to monitor your understanding as you read; and using questioning to evaluate what you’ve read.

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OpenStax College,  Anatomy & Physiology . OpenStax College. 25 April 2013. < >.

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Reading and Writing for Understanding

  • Posted July 21, 2005
  • By Sarah O'Brien Mackey

children and teacher reading

Secondary school students can benefit enormously when teachers of all subjects integrate reading and writing strategies into their instruction, according to  Harvard Graduate School of Education Lecturer Vicki Jacobs . These strategies, typical of "reading and writing to learn" and "reading and writing across the curriculum," are problem-solving activities designed to help students move from simply knowing a fact to understanding a fact's significance. Helping students make that leap — from knowing to understanding — represents the very heart of the educational enterprise.

This summary is based on Jacobs' article, " Reading, Writing, and Understanding, " which appeared in the November 2002 edition of Educational Leadership .

Reading to Learn

Jacobs explains that students learn and practice beginning reading skills through about the third grade, building their knowledge about language and letter-sound relationships and developing fluency in their reading. Around fourth grade, students must begin to use these developing reading skills to learn — to make meaning, solve problems, and understanding something new. They need to comprehend what they read through a three-stage meaning-making process.

Stage One: Prereading

It's not uncommon for a struggling secondary reader to declare, "I read last night's homework, but I don't remember anything about it (let alone understand it)!" According to Jacobs, "How successfully students remember or understand the text depends, in part, on how explicitly teachers have prepared them to read it for clearly defined purposes."

During the prereading stage, teachers prepare students for their encounter with the text. They help students organize the background knowledge and experience they will use to solve the mystery of the text. To do so, they must understand the cultural and language-based contexts students bring to their reading, their previous successes or failures with the content, and general ability to read a particular kind of text. Based on this assessment, teachers can choose strategies that will serve as effective scaffolds between the students' "given" and the "new" of the text.

Asking such questions as, "What do I already know and what do I need to know before reading?" or "What do I think this passage will be about, given the headings, graphs, or pictures?" helps students anticipate the text, make personal connections with the text, and help to promote engagement and motivation. Brainstorming and graphic organizers also serve to strengthen students' vocabulary knowledge and study skills.

Stage Two: Guided Reading

Students move on to guided reading, during which they familiarize themselves with the surface meaning of the text and then probe it for deeper meaning. Effective guided-reading activities allow students to apply their background knowledge and experience to the "new." They provide students with means to revise predictions; search for tentative answers; gather, organize, analyze, and synthesize evidence; and begin to make assertions about their new understanding. Common guided-reading activities include response journals and collaborative work on open-ended problems. During guided reading, Jacobs recommends that teachers transform the factual questions that typically appear at the end of a chapter into questions that ask how or why the facts are important.

The ability to monitor one's own reading often distinguishes effective and struggling readers. Thus, guided-reading activities should provide students with the opportunity to reflect on the reading process itself — recording in a log how their background knowledge and experience influenced their understanding of text, identifying where they may have gotten lost during reading and why, and asking any questions they have about the text. As with prereading, guided-reading activities not only enhance comprehension but also promote vocabulary knowledge and study skills.

Stage Three: Postreading

During postreading, students test their understanding of the text by comparing it with that of their classmates. In doing so, they help one another revise and strengthen their arguments while reflecting and improving on their own.

Writing to Learn

Writing is often used as a means of evaluating students' understanding of a certain topic, but it is also a powerful tool for engaging students in the act of learning itself. Writing allows students to organize their thoughts and provides a means by which students can form and extend their thinking, thus deepening understanding. Like reading-to-learn, writing can be a meaning-making process.

Research suggests that the most effective way to improve students' writing is a process called inquiry. This process allows students to define and test what they would like to write before drafting. To help students prepare their arguments, teachers guide them through the three stages of writing-based inquiry:

  • Stating specific, relevant details from personal experience;
  • Proposing observations or interpretations of the text; and
  • Testing these assertions by predicting and countering potential opposing arguments. Through inquiry, students discover and refine something worth writing about.

Writing-to-learn activities can include freewriting (writing, without editing, what comes to mind), narrative writing (drawing on personal experience), response writing (writing thoughts on a specific issue); loop writing (writing on one idea from different perspectives) and dialogue writing (for example, with an author or a character.) "Not surprisingly," writes Jacobs, "writing-to learn activities are also known as 'writing-to-read' strategies — means by which students can engage with text in order to understand it."

Reading, writing, and understanding

The relationship among reading, writing, and understanding is clear. Students engaged in reading-to-learn will also be prepared to write well. In turn, students who are engaged in writing-to-learn will become more effective readers. Through both approaches, students will gain a better understanding of material and a greater ability to demonstrate that understanding.

Staff Development

Jacobs recommends that teachers who are considering whether to implement reading-to-learn and writing-to-learn strategies into their classroom first define their own instructional goals. If teachers decide that their goals for students' learning include "understanding," then they might ask themselves such questions as, "What strategies do I use to prepare my students to read a text?" or "How explicitly do I share with students the purpose of an assignment?" As Jacobs sees it, "Only after teachers have examined whether teaching for understanding suits their instructional goals and after they have defined their role in facilitating understanding can they consider how the principles and practices of reading-to-learn and writing-to-learn might support their instruction."

For those teachers who decide that teaching for understanding does indeed suit their instructional goals, the framework offered in Jacobs' article can help them skillfully integrate reading-to-learn and writing-to-learn strategies across their instruction.

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About Reading

About Reading: An Introduction

How do children learn to read.

Learning to read is complex. Children don’t learn one reading-related skill and then move on to the next in a step-by-step process. Instead, they must develop competency in four areas simultaneously: word identification, comprehension , fluency , and motivation.

They begin to develop these competencies by listening to books read aloud. That’s one reason why it’s so important for children to have experiences with books before they enter kindergarten. However, most children don’t learn to read independently until they receive formal instruction in school, which is why good reading instruction is so important.

What does good beginning reading instruction look like?

Good beginning reading instruction teaches children how to identify words, comprehend text, achieve fluency, and develop the motivation to read. Whole language approaches focus on comprehension and meaning, while phonics approaches focus on word identification and decoding – or sounding out – words.

Good reading programs balance or integrate both comprehension and decoding instruction in order to provide all children with the experiences they need to learn to read. Most importantly, good reading instruction is tailored to the individual needs of students.

Why is reading so difficult for some children and not others?

Researchers are studying this by looking at the influence of early literacy experiences, by comparing the effects of different approaches to instruction with different groups of children, and by mapping out brain development and behavior in beginning readers.

About fifty percent of children (see Lyon, 1997) seem to learn to read through meaningful experiences with engaging books – they are able to decode words without direct instruction in sounds and the letters that correspond to them, and they seem to use the strategies that good readers use to comprehend text without being taught these strategies.

The other fifty percent of children struggle to learn their sounds and the letters that represent them when they aren’t taught them explicitly, and they struggle to achieve fluency and comprehend what they are reading without guided practice (Lyon, 1997).

That’s why most research now calls for a balanced or integrated approach to instruction, and for teachers to tailor their instruction to the changing needs of their students.

What are some risk factors for reading problems?

Children may struggle to learn to read because of their experience, biology, or instruction.

Experiential risk factors include being raised in a high poverty environment, a second language home, or having limited exposure to oral or written language. This does not mean that these children come to school without literacy experiences – it means that their literacy experiences do not sufficiently correspond with the literacy experiences that are expected of them in school.

Children may also struggle to learn to read because of biological factors. Speech, language, or hearing impairments, cognitive difficulties, or related disabilities can all play a role in making reading difficult to learn. Finally, some children struggle with reading because they receive poor or inadequate reading instruction.

How can we prevent reading problems?

  • Parents can do a lot to prevent a child from experiencing reading problems. The single most important thing they can do is read to their child. Also, parents must watch their child’s development closely and share any questions or concerns with their pediatrician or their child’s school.
  • Teachers are in a position to identify reading problems before they develop. Teachers can become well-versed in reading development and assessment, so they can identify when a child’s development is slow or erratic. The best prevention for reading problems is comprehensive beginning reading instruction. In particular, children who learn how to manipulate the sounds in words – called phonemic awareness – are more likely to achieve success in reading.
  • Community members can get involved in preventing reading problems by working with at risk populations or donating books or materials to organizations that work with these children. In fact, many different community members may interact with a child on a given day – a pediatrician, a child care provider, an after school program coordinator, a volunteer tutor, etc. Each of these people is in a position to keep a watchful eye on a child’s development and make reading an important part of a child’s life.

How can we help struggling readers?

Parents should help their children choose books that are not too difficult and are about topics of interest, and they should continue to read aloud to their children, even into the upper elementary grades. Parents may also work with their children on fun activities to improve children’s reading skills. Finally, parents should communicate with their children’s teachers to establish a mutually supportive home/school relationship.

Teachers can seek professional development experiences to help them develop the skills they need to teach all children well. Finally, teachers should communicate with their students’ families to establish a mutually supportive home/school relationship.

  • Community members can contribute to the success of all children by volunteering their time, talent, or resources to kids who are struggling. A well-intentioned and trained tutor can make a world of difference to a child who is struggling.

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Lyon, G. R. (July 10, 1997). Report on Learning Disabilities Research, Congressional testimony.

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What Are the Five Main Topics in Reading Comprehension?

Basic reading skills.

Reading comprehension is a key factor in English and Language Arts curricula from elementary school to the university level. Reading comprehension, as a skill, is the reader's ability to understanding and make meaning of a text. The main comprehension topics needed for effective comprehension include:

  • Making meaning of the text - Understanding what is being read
  • Drawing connections - Making an inference or reading between the lines
  • Summarizing - Understanding the main point of the passage
  • Vocabulary - Understanding a variety of words and their meanings
  • Fluency - The ability to read with appropriate speed and without errors

Understanding Meaning

Understanding the meaning of a text means figuring out what the passage is trying to tell you. This includes determining what is important in a passage by identifying ideas, actions, themes or lessons that are more important than others.

Sometimes meaning is implied, rather than explicitly stated. To infer meaning, students must use textual clues and background knowledge to draw conclusions, make predictions and interpret meaning.

Strategies to increase students' comprehension of meaning include: reading actively, taking notes, asking questions and looking up unfamiliar words. They can also use the title, subheadings and background information to help in the overall comprehension of meaning.

Drawing Connections

Drawing connections in reading comprehension means identifying relationships between two or more things in order to deepen the student's comprehension of the material. This includes relating elements in the text to real life and to the reader's personal experiences and perspectives.

For example, readers can ask themselves whether the text reminds them of other texts or films. They can reflect on how their own background specifically contributes to their understanding of the content. Drawing correlations like these enhances the overall meaning of the text by illuminating shared or contrasting aspects.

Summarizing and Synthesizing

An important skill in reading comprehension is being able to retell a story, essay or article in just a few sentences without looking at the original text. Summarizing includes being able to distinguish between major and minor points in a text and determining which details are crucial to the overall meaning and which are supplementary.

Synthesizing, or pulling together parts to form a whole and coherent meaning is also a crucial aspect of reading comprehension. For example, with a short story, the reader can examine the characters, conflicts, symbols and figurative language to gather main idea or central theme.

Students can summarize by restating the main idea of a passage. This can be done by writing the main idea and including a few supporting details. Additionally, to help with comprehension, a student can retell the story by stating the main idea and supporting details.

Building Vocabulary

Building vocabulary is a critical reading topic for students at all levels. In reading comprehension, students use contextual analysis to understand new terms. In cases when the context does not clearly define the unknown word, students should list, define and practice using new vocabulary words.

Students can build vocabulary in a variety of ways. The best way to expand vocabulary is through exposure of new words. Reading new and more challenging material is a good way to gain exposure of new words. Being intentional with new words will also help. Make a habit to practice and utilize new words in your daily vocabulary.

Over time, familiarizing students with new words allows them to avoid getting stuck when they are confronted with those words again. Building vocabulary also gives students a more precise understanding of the material's meaning.

Increase Reading Rate

In order to increase reading rate, students must improve their attention and concentration while reading. A key strategy for improving reading rate is to practice reading with and without a time constraint. Reading rate will only increase once the student is fluent . Fluency measures the speed of a reader and whether or not any errors are made.

The more a student reads, the more their pace of reading will increase. Reading out loud and listening to others read will help improve fluency and rate. In some cases, if the student only needs to identify main ideas and does not necessarily need to read every word, they can skim texts to read the ideas rather than the words.

Skimming may be a good idea to get the overall picture of a passage, however, it's not a good idea to rely on skimming when you need to answer comprehension questions. For example, if you are taking a reading test or a standardized test such as the ACT or SAT, skimming is not a sound approach.

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Checklist for Reading & Comprehension of Literature

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Soheila Battaglia is a published and award-winning author and filmmaker. She holds an MA in literary cultures from New York University and a BA in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley. She is a college professor of literature and composition.

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Reading exercises for English learners interested in health

If you care about health issues but find it difficult to express your opinions and concerns in English, these pages will help you. These lessons include vocabulary, readings, quizzes, comprehension questions and discussion topics. Teachers can also use these lessons in the classroom.

Organic vs Non-Organic level: intermediate Do you think organic food is more nutritious than non-organic? Learn more about this debate in this lesson.

The Fitness Pill level: intermediate Did you know that scientists are developing an exercise pill? Find out how this could change the meaning of "working out".

Trans Fats level: upper-intermediate Do you know the dangers of trans fats? Find out why health professionals want people to eliminate this type of fat from their diet.

Mobile Phones level: advanced Do you think mobile phones are bad for your health? Find out why some health professionals are worried about mobile phone use in this lesson.

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Reading Topics on the Exam

The official ACT Compass website explains that reading topics on the exam will be taken from five broad academic areas:

(1) Natural Sciences - This area includes academic subjects such as biology, physics, and health and medicine.

(2) Social Sciences - Includes cultural studies, political science, sociology, and psychology.

(3) Humanities - Covers topics in the academic disciplines of history, education, law, and communications.

(4) Prose Fiction - For this type of passage, you will see an extract from a novel or short story.

(5) Practical Passage - These types of texts inform the reader about how to do something. In other words, they provide instructions by explaining the steps in a certain process.

List of Reading Topics in Our Materials

Here is a list of reading topics included in our Compass practice reading download, which has 20 tests.

You will see that our materials cover all of the subjects listed above, so they provide a comprehensive review of the types of topics assessed on the reading part of the examination.

1 - The Power of Tornadoes

2 - The Development of Professional Athletics

3 - Extract from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

4 - Television Networks and Broadcasting

5 - The Construction of Mount Rushmore

6 - The American Education System

7 - Gravity and the Mechanics of Motion

8 - The Psychological Theories of Jean Piaget

9 - Motion Picture Production

10 - The Automotive Industry and Buyer Preference

11 - Crime and Punishment

12 - Archeological Excavation and Investigation

13 - Agricultural Production and Processes

14 - Health and Medicine - Current Debates

15 - Communication in Interpersonal Relationships

16 - The Westward Expansion Movement

17 - Socioeconomic Inequalities - Recent Research

18 - Thanksgiving Day

19 - The State of the Union

20 - How to Create and Market a Music Download

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Reading Essay Topic Ideas & Titles

🏆 good reading essay topic ideas, 🥇 interesting reading topic ideas for college, 📍 essay topics to write about reading, 📝 list of topics about reading.

  • Pride and Prejudice and Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen: Moral Development of an Individual The responder's understanding of the context and these enduring values is deepened through the Fay Weldon's epistolary novel,Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen, whereby the private nature of Weldon's epistolary form in a post-feminist Contemporary England declares literature ...
  • My Favorite Hobby: Reading Essay Sample I appreciate how reading has broadened my life, and I want the younger children in town to reap that benefit as well. I am awestruck by the possiblility of having access to over a million titles in hundreds of disciplines.
  • Summer Reading Assignment This is shown in the form of two novels, "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens and "Nectar in a Sieve" by Kamala Markandaya. It is shown by the change in multiple characters in "A Tale of Two Cities" ...
  • "Reading, Heroes, And Me” Reflection Captain Majed was the main reason I chose soccer instead of any others sports to play. For the reason Captain Majed was my hero, I have always wanted to become a professional soccer player and make it as my only ...
  • Essay On A Reading Analysis Of Living at the Crossroads The authors' belief is that peopleare now at the crosswords of two opposing narratives, these being the biblical story of creation and the post-modern western story, and that now we live in a state of tension:"So we find ourselves at ...
  • Business Ethics and Reading Response For example, the managers and the supervisors should be in a position to cope with difficulties in management and the best way to address the recommendations to the employees. Even if the business is in operation within the law, it ...
  • Foucault: History of Sexuality/ A Reading The essays constitute the central theme of the history of sexual conduct and behaviour, and the analysis of philosophical and religious ideas on sexuality so as to reach an understanding of the formation and the development of the experience of ...
  • Still According to the reading, "Women in The objectivization of women contributes to gender inequality in other spheres of personal and social life, placing women in a worse position than men as a group. To conclude, the danger for a man can be the objectification of other ...
  • English Home Reading Project Dussander starts too do the same as Todd and buries his victims in his basement.towards the end of the story the guidance counselor meets Todd's real grandfather and starts too talk about the meeting they had and when the grandfather ...
  • Reading Strategies Worksheet I look at is as the tools to my trade and to not fully comprehend the text means that I cannot fully accomplish my goal of getting a degree. I could incorporate some of the suggestions given to me by ...
  • Empowering Students Through Critical Reading Strategies Education Essay In1998, Parviz Birjandi the celebrated Persian policy shaper and the writer of English text editions for high school and pre-university degrees, in his survey tried to look into the consequence of critical reading on the betterment of the reading comprehension ...
  • A Review on Reading Theories and It’s Implication to the Teaching of Reading Third, the metacognitive view, which is based on the control and manipulation that a reader can have on the act of comprehending a text, and thus, emphasizes the involvement of the reader's thinking about what he is doing while reading.1. ...
  • There An authentic reading experience can be Giving asimplified text is a way to ensure that the material is level appropriate andincreases the likelihood of authentic reading. There is much debatein the field of EFL reading instruction regarding the value of simplified andauthentic text and their ability ...
  • A Streetcar Named Desire Feminist Reading On the other hand, the text also conveys how the patriarchy can empower men, through the representation of the character of Stanley. In the play, Stella can be seen as the usual oppression of the feminine by the representation of ...
  • Reading The Vagina Monologues Book Review Sample The play, The Vagina Monologues, was written by Eve Ensler in 1996. Yet another tells the story of a woman who refers to her vagina as a "coochie snoorcher".
  • Reading Materials In Developing Vocabulary Skills Of First Year Education Students The comparative analysis resulted in the significant relationship between the exposure to the different reading materials and vocabulary skills development of the respondents.5. The results of the series of the tests revealed that silent reading is the preferred reading style ...
  • Reading are read to three to five The better the student understands theteacher and the lesson, the better the student will perform. Thefrustration of not being able to find the words to say what they want will nolonger be a struggle.
  • Hunger Games Summer Reading The tributes chosen to compete in the games are chosen at random from a drawing filled with each of the names of young adults in the different districts. This makes the underprivileged members of each district more likely to be ...
  • The Poisonwood Bible Critical Reading Portfolio Entry The Opposition Bible is a book about the reactions that can be made with the burden of collective guilt; to be specific, to our complicit guilt as citizens of the United States for the misconduct by our nation in the ...
  • Experiences Reading The Bible From Childhood Essay Although my knowledge of the previous experience of the religious and the bible may be a bit obscure, I can recall only to loud and interesting preaching cascading from the minister's heart upon my attendance in the church of Christianity. ...
  • Free Article Review About Reading Feedback She teaches her daughter to be perfect not out of her desire for the daughter to live a happy life but out of her disgust for her own present life. She wants to implement in her daughter the perfect woman ...
  • E-Reading devices E-Reading devices, such as the Kindle and the iPad are the future of the leisure reading market The essay topic tells me that e-Reading devices, such as the Kindle and the iPad are the future of the leisure reading market. ...
  • Free Essay On reading Strategies, reading Critically Sullivan takes a more philosophical approach to the problem, discussing the different theories that intend to explain different practices of body modification across cultures. Thus, the reader is constantly disoriented and does not finish the essay with a clear picture, ...
  • Reading And Analyzing Primary Historical Sources Essay Sample The source gives a very description and bleak description of the destruction the bubonic plague had on the world. The article presented for Review is entitled "The Impact of Islamic Civilization and Culture in Europe during the Crusades".
  • Example Of Essay On Much Ado About Nothing Reading Response Despite the dated setting of lords and ladies in the midst of a war, the relationships between the characters, specifically Beatrice and Benedick, are relatable to the reader because of their timeless humor. This is a theme within the play ...
  • Linguistic Reading Response Paper on "The Celtic Languages” Linguistic Response Paper on the "Creole Continuum"The so-called 'Creole continuum' evolve in situations in which a creole coexists with its lexical source language and there is socialmotivationfor creole speakers to acquire the standard so that the speech of individuals takes ...
  • Four Skills of Language Learning: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing Essay Sample The purpose of language learning is to improve the speakers' four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, with the base of large vocabulary and good grammar, but this is not the final purpose. In addition, most of the speakers ...
  • The importance of reading One of the effects that reading has on a person is the ability to understand more terms or words, over a period of time. Reflect upon the thoughts that come to your mind whenever you read a great book.
  • Reading Books Is Better Than Watching Tv Reading books is better than watching TV The appearance of book is thousands of years earlier than the invention of TV. Books are a form of the beauty of words.
  • Critical Thinking On Reading Response The reading also points out the chief signpost of political realism, which is the view of interest demand stated in conditions of control that refuses the coherent order into the area under discussion of politics. The strength of Melian dialogue ...
  • Example Of Reading Response Literature Review In his "Project for arriving at moral Perfection," Benjamin Franklin gives an example of ardent Puritanism, the aim of which is to reach an angelic purity, and this makes it similar to the introspection and mediation of Puritanism. In his ...
  • The Importance of Reading Narrative Essay Reading is a great hobby for various people and they are spending their time usefully by reading good books which helps them to gain knowledge. Reading books is always worth to our time and we never regret for reading a ...
  • Article Review On Reading Summary: Post Modernism Many scholars have believed that the dominant socio-political forces within society have played a vital role in the creation of institutions and perceptions that we have held as being reality. This means that the universal truths that we deeply cherish ...
  • Reading: English Language When we are in the grip of disappointment and despair, only reading of good books can give us peace of mind and a ray of hope for the future. The second and the most important reason, for English to be ...
  • My Passion for Reading and its Contribution to My Personal Growth But reading whatever caught my fancy soon gave way to a discriminatory reading habit, because against the moral sense of decency and progressiveness which I owe to my upbringing, I weighed and sifted every idea I came upon. I feel ...
  • Good Reading And Education Research Paper Example In Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility, Austen focuses on the lack of fortune for women as a significant economic problem. Austen defends the traditions and values of her social structure; she is not a revolutionary.
  • Reading Responses to a Poem If the tone of the poem is not appeasing to me while I am reading it aloud in my head, then I will NOT finish reading the poem. I both read the poem and listened to the audio of the ...
  • Reading as a Psycho-Social Process. The workings of businesses, industries, schools, governments, foundations and international agencies like the United nations would be stalled without reading as a human activity. Reading is also professioncal as it is a form of communication done in all the professions ...
  • How Reading Strategies Can Benefit Your Skills When teaching students to use reading strategies, it is important to make the processes explicit. The first step of explicit strategy instruction is explaining the strategy to the students.
  • The Importance Of Reading To Children Essay Sample Literacy is the ability to use available symbol systems that are fundamental to learning and teaching, for the purposes of comprehending and composing, for the purposes of making and communicating meaning and knowledge. Reading aloud to children is the easiest ...
  • Reading Philosophies Essay Sample The teacher's role is less of the sole authority of the topic and takes on a role as a guide in the education process. The teacher would jump-start the activity giving the students a basis to begin and then setback ...
  • Reading the River Twain, by becoming a steamboat captain, had to learn the ways of the river. By learning about the ways of being a steamboat captain, he was forced to see the river in a different view.
  • Reading Response: Much Ado About Nothing Article Review Sample The example of this that stands out the most to me is Margaret being mistaken for Hero, leading to Hero's own disgrace. This is not the only example, of course there is a masked ball in which Beatrice complains about ...
  • A Psychoanalytical Reading Of Gustave Flauberts A Simple Heart Essay The simplistic nature of Felicite's existence is enviable only to a person who is fundamentally unhappy as a direct result of their wealth and the extravagance of their life. In A Simple Heart, Flaubert presents the reader with a character ...
  • Free Close Reading Of Ode To Psyche Essay Sample John Keats' poem Ode to Psyche can only be understood in the context of its allusion to the Greek myth of Psyche. This poem is as much an ode to Psyche as it is an entreaty that Psyche forgive the ...
  • Course Work On Assessment Of Reading Using a variety of assessments in teaching is noteworthy because it gives the assessors a chance to determine the best assessment method. Assessment is changing; hence, different methods should be used for assessment in order to provide a clear picture ...
  • Book Reading Discussion Essay Sample On the contrary, it is a way of shutting the rest of the world out and focusing on what is important to a person. In the beginning,he was so determined to renounce the world to live as a Buddhist monk ...
  • Mind Reading Computers The ability to attribute mental states to others from their behavior and to use that knowledge to guide our own actions and predict those of others is known as theory of mind or mind-reading. With the increasing complexity of computer ...
  • English 10 Reading Journal: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee Atticus tells Scout not to call them a demeaning word because he cares for and supports racial equality and wants Scout to be raised with sympathy and empathy instead of prejudice and blind animosity like the rest of Maycomb County. ...
  • The Books Reading Books are also a great source in helping to measure and improve the literacy of any society; throughout the world, it can be observed that the more literate a nation is, the more its people write, publish and read books. ...
  • Zakaria Reading This study will also support the argument by facilitating a comparison between the declining economic position of the US, which is the implication of adverse administrative practices, and that of the political processes of another country. The declining position of ...
  • Air Pollution and Sample Academic Reading Assignment The impact of environmental extremes on city planning The first campaigns for environmental change Building cities in earthquake zones The effect Of global warming on cities Adapting areas surrounding cities to provide resources Removing the unwanted by-products of city life ...
  • The Perils Of Social Reading Summary Essay Sample The author of The Perils of Social Reading, Neil Richards, writes about the issues of updating an old privacy act that could interfere with the way we view the world through our reading and watching movies. The choice of updating ...
  • The Advantages To Reading Literature Review For many, the most obvious advantage to being a reader of literature is the increasing improvement of the individual's vocabulary and general understanding of the English language. It is vital, however, to impress the important of reading upon children and ...
  • Sample Essay On Reading Response To For Music Related Readings According to Vario, for the content of the music produced, the words that are used in the new music do not explain in clear terms the nature, peculiarity and the essence of the accented singing. This affects the music in ...
  • Free Critical Thinking About Reading Analysis Of Where Have All The Criminal Gone This paper will first summarize the major arguments; lines of thoughts, as well as the recommendations made by the authors of "Where have all the Criminals Gone?" during their analysis of the diminishing rates of crime in the United States. ...
  • A Psychological Reading of The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka Samsa's sister represents his id, his father represents his superego and his mother represents his ego. This suggests that Samsa's unconscious self is in a state of civil war, where his desire is fighting with his duty to the point ...
  • A Close Reading Of Bastard Out Of Carolina Critical Thinking Examples The author writes with bluntness and stark prose to paint a clear picture of the emotional and physical challenges experienced by the main character and the people around her. DICTIONIt is one of the author's important and emphatic style of ...
  • Example Of Essay On Close Reading Of Mrs Dalloway The conversation with Clarissa Dalloway is also a crucial part of the narrative since here we also find the intrusion of Peter walsh who seems to be creating an enigmatic situation for Clarissa. The sense of regret and sadness which ...
  • The Advantages and Disadvantages of Reading the Novel The advantages and disadvantages of reading the novel Novel writing a long reference and display a variety of modes of human life. A teenager should know how to evaluate and choose the kind of novel that suits their age.
  • The Secret Garden Close Reading Essay Themes of death, illness, recovery, and new life are shown in the text through description of travel, condition of the garden and the changing seasons. These themes of death, illness, recovery, and new life are communicated and heavily displayed through ...
  • Response paper of feminism in film reading Response Paper on Feminism in Film Reading Summary According to the psychoanalysis can help clear up the concept of feminism, especially in the film industry. I tend to think that the writers have overplayed the whole issue of feminism, particularly ...
  • Me Emotions From Reading Of Ready Player One Novel Before I interviewed my dad, I informed him that I just read a book called Ready Player One and that a lot of the information was based from the 1980s thus I needed him to be as specific as possible ...
  • Reading Response to Devil in a Blue Dress Theme: Race and Racism A major theme in the novel is that of race and racism, the setting of 1948 is obviously a time when the United States of America had very visible racial segregation lines and it was refreshing ...
  • Black Dog Of Fate Reading Log English Literature Essay In other words, though there were hundreds of independent news reports of the Armenian genocide, the will to know the truth is just as crucial to Armenia's recovery, and has been passed on through the influence of people like Balakian's ...
  • ‘A man more sinned against than sinning’. Is this your reading of Shakespeare’s King Lear? His hiring of Kent is a sign that Lear inspires loyalty, and his interaction with the Fool shows a more tolerant side to his nature. Lear needs to suffer to improve his understanding of himself and the society in which ...
  • Reading Response to the Maltese Falcon The Maltese Falcon turned out to be and interesting read for me, the direct style and the fact that it was not too lengthy made it a bit easy to finish it within a short time. There are several reasons ...
  • Reading And Observation Reflection To my understanding this article explains that there is a relationship between the youth and the location that they choose to hang out in.the research that was conducted shows how young groups of kids interact with their environment, but it ...
  • Sample Essay On Reading Reflection There is however the existence of the different types of emotions; one is bent more on the negative side and one on the more positive aspect of living. Overall, these readings provide a distinct presentation on how human emotions often ...
  • Reading/Reading Efficiency Since the most important four language arts are listening, speaking, writing and reading, all of them are interwoven and they must be able to work hand in hand before efficient reading can be accomplished. The Reading and Language Arts plan ...
  • Good Example Of Essay On Reading Reaction He moves on to analyze the different rules that are involved in the different levels of communication and how the parties involved play big roles in deciding the different levels of communication that they choose to operate in. These bonds ...
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Topic about reading

Topic about reading

Last updated Wednesday , 29-12-2021 on 02:35 pm

Topic about reading, with many interesting information about the importance of reading and how it develops the perception of the mind and the expansion of horizons. Reading also has a great role in promoting individuals and communities. All of this we will be here in a topic about reading.

Reading is the food of the soul and the key to the mind and good friend of the heart, who knew the value of reading will never tire of it. This is what you will learn here from the importance of reading in our lives through a topic about reading

The importance of reading 

When a person reads various books in various fields of knowledge, he is able to acquire science and skills in it. Reading is a means of learning ,and man does not learn without reading the words and sentences that contain the benefits and treasures.

So we see many of our early scientists have libraries containing hundreds of books in one or more fields of science.The reading passion controls the minds of many scientists and learners and takes a lot of their time because of the great benefit they gain from reading.

Many intellectuals like to read  newspapers, magazines, and miscellaneous books that provide them with information about everything.

Recognizing of civilizations

Reading is an ambassador between peoples and civilizations. When a person reads books about previous civilizations and ancient centuries, he recognizes them.

Reading books that talk about people’s cultures and traditions helps people to approach and benefit from them. Reading thus constitutes a means of exchanging ideas and information and is a key to the entry of different worlds and civilizations.

Development of the mind

Reading develops the mind and expands the perception, the mind of man without doubt if used to read,it will be expanded horizons.

While you see a person who does not read his mind is numb and limited to a certain point of view or false information which is incorrect.

Reading is therefore a way to revitalize and renew the mind constantly. A person must be careful to keep his mind open door always to read all the new information and ideas and then analyze the right information.

Self – Harmony

Reading is a comfort for the soul and an amusement. When a person read a useful book that contains interesting news and interesting stories, that will comfort him,  as well as the book is the best companion in the travel , souls and heart do not tire of it.

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Math test scores show some recovery from pandemic learning loss; reading scores stagnant

The scores offer among the most comprehensive national pictures of student learning, pointing to some progress but persistent challenges..

When it comes to how American students are recovering from the pandemic, it's a tale of two subjects. 

States across the country have made some progress in math over the past two years, while in English language arts some states made gains while others fell further behind.

“In math, almost every state looks pretty similar. There was a large decline between 2019 and 2021. And then everybody is kind of crawling it back,” said Emily Oster, an economist at Brown University. “In ELA, it’s all over the map.”

That’s according to recently released results from more than 20 state tests , encompassing millions of students, compiled by Oster and colleagues. The scores offer among the most comprehensive national snapshots of student learning, pointing to some progress but persistent challenges. With just a handful of exceptions, students in 2023 are less likely to be proficient than in 2019, the year before the pandemic jolted American schools and society.

“Schools are getting back to normal, but kids still have a ways to go,” said Scott Marion, executive director of the Center for Assessment, a nonprofit that works with states to develop tests. “We’re not getting out of this in two years.” 

Distracted students, stressed teachers: What an American school day looks like post-COVID

Oster’s analysis of test data tracks the share of students who were proficient on grades 3-8 math and reading exams before, during and after the pandemic. Every state showed a significant drop in proficiency from 2019 to 2021, a fact that has been documented on a variety of tests . (Testing was canceled in 2020.) 

Earlier studies from Oster and others have found that while schools of all stripes saw test scores decline during the pandemic, those that remained virtual for longer experienced deeper setbacks. 

The recent state test data offers some good news, though: 2021 was, for the most part, the bottom of the learning-loss hole. 

In math, all but a couple of states experienced improvements from 2021 to 2023. Only two − Iowa and Mississippi − were at or above 2019 levels, though. 

In reading, a majority of states have made some progress since 2021 and four have caught up to pre-pandemic levels. But numerous states experienced no improvement. A handful even continued to regress .

It’s not clear why state trends in math versus reading have differed. After the pandemic hit and closed down schools, math scores fell more quickly and sharply than reading scores but now appear to have been faster to recover.  

Testing experts say standardized tests may be better at measuring the discrete skills students are taught in math. Reading − especially the comprehension of texts − comes through the development of more cumulative knowledge and skills . “Is the test insensitive to what’s really going on in classrooms or are kids just not learning to read better?” Marion asked. “That’s the part I can’t quite figure out.”

Oster suspects the adoption of research-aligned reading practices, including phonics, may explain why some states have made a quicker comeback. Mississippi, well known for its early adoption of these practices , is one of four states to have fully recovered in ELA. But more research is needed to understand why some states appear to have bounced back more quickly than others.

“Some people are doing a good job. Some people are not doing as good a job,” Oster said. “Understanding that would tell us something about which kind of policies we might want to favor.”

For parents: How to know how your kid is doing in school, and what to do if they are falling behind

Some schools look to phonics to boost stagnant reading scores

In Indiana, which made gains in math but not reading , officials are hoping a suite of recent laws embracing the science of reading will boost scores. In Michigan, which also saw no progress in reading, lawmakers pointed to recent investments in early literacy and tutoring.

At Sherlock Elementary, part of the Cicero 99 school district in Illinois, just west of Chicago, Principal Joanna Lago saw how the pandemic set students back. Students are still climbing out of those holes, she said.

“Our scores are somewhat stagnant,” she said. 

But Lago hopes a series of new initiatives will lead to gains for her students. This year, her district is adding an extra 30 minutes to every school day so staff can zero in on reading and math skills. This is the second year teachers within the same grade level are working together more closely to plan lessons and review student performance data.

The district has also adopted a new reading curriculum aligned with the science of reading. Over the past two years, Lago, a former reading teacher herself, and her team received training on using decodable texts to emphasize phonics. Teachers visited one another’s classrooms to observe as they tried out new lessons. Pictures of mouths forming letter sounds now hang on classroom walls instead of pictures of words.

It's “a more strategic approach to help reach kids and fill some of the gaps of what they need,” Lago said. “How could this not lead to results? How could this not lead to more kids reading more fluently, having better reading comprehension?”

Educators are confronting persistent learning loss going into the last full school year to spend federal COVID-19 relief money, a chunk of which is set aside for learning recovery. Some school districts have already begun to wind down tutoring and other support as the money dwindles.

Marion, of the Center for Assessment, fears this extra programming will vanish too soon. “I’m pessimistic because I’m pessimistic about politicians,” he said. 

The state test scores offer a slightly different picture of learning loss than a recent analysis by the testing company NWEA. Though NWEA found little evidence of recovery last school year, most state tests showed gains in math proficiency last year.

There could be a number of reasons for the discrepancy, including the fact that some large states − including California and New York − have not released state test data yet, so the picture is still incomplete.

The new test score data comes with a few other caveats. Because states administer their own exams and create different benchmarks for proficiency, results from different states are not directly comparable with one another. Experts also warn that proficiency is an imprecise gauge of learning because it captures only whether a student meets a certain threshold, without considering how far above or below they are. 

Plus, each year’s scores are based on different groups of students because regular testing ends in eighth grade. That means students fall out of the data as they progress into high school and some may never have fully recovered academically, even if state average scores have returned to pre-pandemic levels. 

Said Oster, “There are kids who will forever be behind.”

See this article on the Chalkbeat website . Matt Barnum is interim national editor, overseeing and contributing to Chalkbeat’s coverage of national education issues. Contact him at [email protected].

Kalyn Belsha is a senior national education reporter based in Chicago. Contact her at [email protected] .

Read our research on: World Leaders | Internet & Technology | Family & Relationships

Regions & Countries

How americans see the state of gender and leadership in business.

Women now account for record shares of Fortune 500 chief executives and board members in the United States – 10.6% and 30.4%, respectively. Still, the share of women in top business leadership positions remains well below their share of the population.

Pew Research Center conducted this study to explore Americans’ views about the current state of gender and business leadership.

This analysis is based on a survey of 5,057 U.S. adults conducted July 17-23, 2023. Everyone who took part is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. Address-based sampling ensures that nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology .

Here are the questions used for this analysis , along with responses, and the survey methodology .

A bar chart showing that most women and Democrats say there are too few women in top leadership positions in business.

A majority of Americans (55%) say there are too few women in top executive business positions, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. This is down somewhat from 59% who said this in 2018 .

Among those who say there are too few women in top business positions, most (79%) say it would be ideal to have the same number of women and men in these roles. One-in-ten say having more women than men would be ideal. The same share (10%) say it would be ideal to have more women in these positions than there are now, but still not as many women as men.

Related: Women and Political Leadership Ahead of the 2024 Election

Why aren’t there more women in top executive business positions?

A bar chart showing that 58% of Americans say women having to do more to prove themselves is a major obstacle for those seeking top leadership positions in business.

Americans see many factors as major reasons why there aren’t more women in top executive business positions, such as:

  • Women having to do more to prove themselves than men (58% say this is a major reason)
  • Gender discrimination (50%)
  • Family responsibilities (48%)
  • Many businesses not being ready to hire women for these positions (43%)
  • Sexual harassment creating an environment that makes it harder for women to succeed (40%)

Will there ever be as many women as men in top executive business positions?

Americans are divided on this question. Half say that, even as more women move into management roles, men will continue to hold more of these top positions. A similar share (48%) say that as more women move into management roles, it’s only a matter of time before there are as many women as men in top executive positions in business. 

How views vary by gender

On nearly every question we asked, women and men express different views about the current state of gender and business leadership:  

A dot plot showing that views on the obstacles for women seeking top leadership positions in business vary widely by gender.

  • 65% of women say there are too few women in top executive business positions, compared with 45% of men. Men are more likely than women to say the number of women in these positions is about right (46% vs. 29%).
  • 55% of women say men will continue to hold more top executive business positions in the future. In turn, more than half of men (54%) say it’s only a matter of time before there are as many women as men in these roles.
  • By large margins, women are more likely than men to see nearly all of the potential obstacles we asked about as major reasons why there aren’t more women in top business leadership positions.

How views vary by party

There are also differences in the views of Democrats and Democratic leaners when compared with Republicans and those who lean to the GOP. Among these differences:

A dot plot showing that Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to see a variety of factors as major obstacles for women seeking top leadership positions in business.

  • 76% of Democrats say there are too few women in top business leadership positions, compared with 33% of Republicans. A majority of Republicans (56%) say the number of women in these positions is about right.
  • Most Democrats say women having to do more to prove themselves than men (73%) and gender discrimination (67%) are major reasons why there aren’t more women in top business leadership positions. This compares with 42% and 30% of Republicans, respectively.
  • Among Republicans, family responsibilities are cited more often than any other factor as a major reason why there aren’t more women in top leadership positions in business. Similar shares of Republicans (48%) and Democrats (49%) see this as a major reason.

Gender differences among Republicans and Democrats

On many questions, there are differences by gender within each party. Republican and Democratic women are more likely than their male counterparts to say there are too few women in top business leadership positions and to point to certain factors as major obstacles for women.

A dot plot that shows views of obstacles for women seeking top leadership positions in business vary between men and women across both parties.

Note: Here are the questions used for this analysis , along with responses, and the survey methodology .

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About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

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The new phone call etiquette: Text first and never leave a voice mail

When is it okay to leave voice mails, call multiple times in a row or take a call in public.

reading on topic

Phone calls have been around for 147 years, the iPhone 16 years and FaceTime video voice mails about a week.

Not surprisingly, how we make calls has changed drastically alongside advances in technology. Now people can have conversations in public on their smartwatches , see voice mails transcribed in real time and dial internationally midday without stressing about the cost.

The phone norms also change quickly, causing some people to feel left behind or confused. The unwritten rules of chatting on the phone differ wildly between generations, leading to misunderstandings and frustration on all sides.

We spoke to an etiquette expert and people of all ages about their own phone pet peeves to come up with the following guidance to help everyone navigate phone calls in 2023.

These will vary depending on your relationship, your age and the context of the call. The closer you are to someone, the less the rules apply. Go ahead, FaceTime your mom with no warning while brushing your teeth.

Don’t leave a voice mail

Voice mails are an artifact of the days before text messages. If you have information that needs to be communicated in an accurate, timely manner, you’re far better off putting it into writing as a text or email. Most phones transcribe voice mails now, so chances are people aren’t even listening to what you said but reading a (possibly incorrect) text version instead.

The exceptions for the no-voice-mail rule are calling people who would love to hear your voice no matter what you’re saying, or sharing some kind of audio experience. Think besties and immediate family members singing happy birthday, a dispatch from friends at a Taylor Swift concert or a simple “I love you.”

If you have a long juicy story you want to tell, consider sending it in a voice memo instead. It’s the best medium for a monologue.

Text before calling

Calling someone without warning can feel stressful to the recipient. Instead, text them ahead of time to ask if they’re free to talk now, if they can call you when they’re free, or if they can pick a time they’d like to chat. If it’s someone you call regularly, find out what their ideal times are, like after work or only on Sunday afternoons.

Wording and context are key for these pre-call texts. A simple “call me” text can feel urgent and make someone think there’s an emergency. Clarify if it’s urgent or just to catch up. If it’s about a specific topic, mention in the text what it is you’d like to talk about so they can be prepared.

These steps are especially necessary for video calls. Catching someone on video at an unexpected time can be embarrassing for all involved. You should almost never start a FaceTime or other video call without warning.

Worried about texting etiquette? We’ve got you covered there too.

You don’t need to answer the phone

The responsibility isn’t only on the person dialing. Just because someone is calling you out of the blue does not mean you have to pick up. If you’re in a restaurant, using the bathroom or in a meeting, mute the call and get back to them at a convenient time.

“We all have control of our phones and can decide if it’s the right time to answer it,” said Lizzie Post, etiquette expert and co-president at the Emily Post Institute. “If someone interrupts you and you’re ticked off about it, guess whose fault that is? You’re the one who answered the call when you shouldn’t.”

To be even more polite, send them a text. Smartphones will let you send an automated text response when you can’t answer, which is handy if you want to tell them you can text but not talk or will get back to them soon. Consider adding a custom reply in settings or typing something fresh each time. The default texts can sometimes feel a little brusque.

Emotions are for voice, facts are for text

Many things don’t need to be a phone call at all. When you’re trying to decide on the best method of communication, consider what it is you want to say.

Anything requiring nuance like opinions or emotional matters are best done over the phone, including arguments, catching up or connecting on a personal level. Factual updates, coordinating plans or anything that is more cut and dried often work best in writing. If something is complicated and will drag on too long as a text chain, go ahead and ask if they can talk.

“Nobody has a good fight via text message,” says Post. “I get that sometimes it feels better to fight via text because you’re not actually confronting the person, but you get through it a lot faster on the phone.”

Unless it’s an emergency, please hold

If someone doesn’t answer your call, do not hang up and immediately call them again. If they have not responded to your text about the call they missed, do not send them an email about it. If it is an emergency, clearly state that right away in a text message.

Use video voice mails judiciously

Voice mails are dead. Long live the video voice mail. Apple recently introduced a new feature in its iOS 17 update that lets you leave a video message when someone doesn’t answer your FaceTime call. It’s silly and fun and should be used that way, but keep in mind not everyone will find them delightful. Our own Shira Ovide is prepared to unfriend anyone who leaves her a FaceTime voice mail (FaceMail?).

Stay still for video calls

Video calls on FaceTime, Google Meet, Zoom or Skype should get your full attention. Prop your phone up someplace so that your full face fills the screen, not just your forehead and nose, and stay put until the call is over. When people, especially kids, move around during a video call, it can be disorienting for the person on the other end. If you want to wander around and do chores while talking, switch to a voice call.

Don’t use speakerphone in public

While many people (myself included) love eavesdropping on strangers’ gossip, it’s generally considered bad form to use speakerphone in public. Whether it’s a regular call, video call or smartwatch call, use headphones or save it for later. Headphones only solve half of the problem, however, as people still have to hear your side of the conversation. If you’re in a crowded area, like an office or store, be aware of other people’s personal space and your own volume.

Video calls in public are also a sensitive issue. There are strangers around you who did not consent to being on camera, and they might also see something they’re not supposed to on your screen. Frame your shots accordingly.

Start screening calls again

Apple also added a new call screening feature in iOS 17 that will transcribe a voice mail in real time, meaning you can decide while they’re talking to answer the phone. For anyone old enough to have owned an answering machine, this is a delightful throwback. Use this feature to avoid scam calls from unknown numbers instead of answering them all out of curiosity.

The feature is still new so we’ll have to see how people feel about being ignored unless they have something worthwhile to say.

Don’t stop talking on the phone

Phone calls aren’t dead! While hopping on the phone may be less common or involve more planning than it used to, it’s still a wonderful way to communicate. Talking to a person in real time can strengthen relationships, improve mental health and lessen loneliness.

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Bangkok: Two dead and 14-year-old held over Siam Paragon mall shooting

  • Published 3 hours ago

Suspect apprehended - police handout

A 14-year-old boy has been arrested after two people were killed in a shooting at a luxury shopping mall in the centre of Bangkok, police say.

The shooting happened at the Siam Paragon mall, the city's most famous mall and one of the most-visited places in Asia.

The victims were from China and Myanmar, Thailand's police chief said.

The suspect surrendered to officers and had been using a handgun, police said.

Five other people - one Lao national, one Chinese and three Thais - were injured.

One of the victims was Chinese and the other, who worked at the mall, was Burmese, national police chief Torsak Sukvimol told a news conference.

Footage showed shoppers inside the Siam Paragon mall running for the exits after they heard multiple shots being fired.

By the time police arrived on the scene at 17:10 local time (10:10 GMT) and were able to disarm the assailant, several people had been hit.

Ambulances had to battle with the notoriously busy rush hour traffic in this part of Bangkok to carry the victims to hospital.

The teenaged suspect has been transferred to Pathumwan police station.

He attended a school close to the mall and had a record of getting treatment for a mental health condition at Rajvithi hospital, but had recently stopped taking his medication, Mr Sukvimol said.

It is unclear what his motives were.

The headteacher of the private school, named The Essence, wrote to parents confirming the suspect was a pupil and said the school would cooperate with police.

  • Live updates: Three killed in Bangkok mall shooting

Eyewitnesses inside the mall said they hid inside shops and bathrooms.

Jakkraphan Nakharisi, 29, an ice cream seller who has worked at the mall for two years, told the BBC that he did not realise at first that the noises were gunshots.

"There were four to five of them. And then silence. Then there were probably another two shots. Then I heard someone in my shop shout, 'There's some shooting!'

"I ducked behind the ice cream tank immediately. I didn't know where to run. I thought I couldn't just go out recklessly."

He said he heard security guards escort people off the premises, before he left "no more than 10 minutes after the shooting".

Palmyra Kownack, a 61-year old UK resident currently in Bangkok who was at the Paragon when the shooting took place, told the BBC she had been left shaken.

"There was a lot of shouting and shots," she said. "It was difficult to know what was happening. We didn't know if it was one person or a gang."

"We could see military walking by. We stayed there for about an hour until we finally got the all clear to leave. We were escorted out by the back exit. It was chaos with so many people."

In a statement, a Siam Paragon spokesperson expressed condolences to the victims.

"As soon as the incident occurred, the police and Siam Paragon's security team immediately evacuated customers and employees from the building, prioritising the safety of all customers, employees, and tenants," the statement said.

Mass shootings in Thailand are rare, although gun ownership rates are relatively high for the region.

An ex-policeman killed at least 37 people, most of them children, in a gun and knife attack at a childcare centre in in Nong Bua Lamphu province in north-east Thailand in October last year.

In 2020, a soldier killed 29 people and injured dozens more in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima.

Map of the area

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More on this story.

Thailand country profile

  • Published 22 August

Map of Thailand


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