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Critical Reading Essay

I. Introduction “The original owner had highlighted the entire book? literally. Every line on every page had been drawn through with a bright green Magic Marker. It was a terrifying example of a mind that had lost all power of discrimination. ” -Florence King Being a student requires reading? and a lot of it. Some love it, some hate it. Nonetheless, we can’t escape it. Reading is part of a student’s life, and the length of time spent on it defines the kind of student one is. It is a challenge to even start going through the first page, all the more to finish it until the end.

And yet, to understand is completely a different story. Reading has been described as a gateway to explore new worlds, a key to unlock the treasure of infinite knowledge, or an escape door from reality. The way you describe it reflects your value for it. It needs to transcend the sense of sight in order to penetrate the brain. Words read with the eyes do not mean the same as to words read with the mind. And as a student steps higher in the ladder of education, reading comprehension matures with the increase in the level of critical thinking.

Students are exposed to different reading materials. At present, the internet has become the most popular source of information due to its availability and ease of use. With just a single click, one is exposed to a wide array of information. Scholarly journals are considered to be the most reliable source of research-based information because articles are editor and peer-reviewed by academics in their field (Trembay Jr. , 5). This is seldom used, however, very useful. Books, on the other hand, are the reading material that students are most exposed to.

Since every course or subject they enrol in has a reference textbook, it is not a surprise that after getting a college diploma, he/she has already come across at least 100 textbooks. This paper focuses on how a student could be a critical reader when studying textbooks. It recognizes the process students go through in line with their reading assignment? starting to read, reading the textbook per se, and evaluating the information delivered in order to translate the data read into meaningful bits of knowledge for the student. II. Strategies/ Skills A. Preparing to Study.

Before even beginning to start a reading assignment, a student should be ready or at least be aware of how he/she would effectively absorb what he/she would be reading. There are a number of ideas and tips to get the ball rolling on studying. Some might like to study alone in a quiet place; some do it while listening to music; while others study in front of the television. Although people have different ways of studying, it is important that they become perceptive to various techniques that are available for them to possibly improve their academic performance.

Knowing more about how you learn will help you understand more from your textbook reading (Rasool, 33). For what is effective for one might not be for another, it is important to discover for yourself your own formula for learning. First of all, we need to stimulate ourselves for the “information rush” in a manner that sufficient time has been allocated for studying and a conducive study place is achieved for all academic-related activities.

For everything that you read, be sure to have a purpose on it? whether it is simply to have a clue on what the pages are about, to memorize in preparation for a quiz, to criticize the points given in a text, or others. Definition of the purpose would help in your selection to where you should focus your attention and to those that you could get through without.

For students, this is a very notable advice. Often, reading assignments cover one chapter of a book or a more than 3-paged short story. In connection with that, here’s a surprise lesson in reading: Don’t always read everything? skim, scan, glance and skip (Johnson, 447). Yes, this is true. Believe it.

Now before teachers and professors begin to raise their eyebrow and before students get uncontrollably joyful, there is some advice of caution that follows. The four techniques mentioned undoubtedly reduces the length of time you spend on reading, but you’ve got to know when to use it and when not to. Skimming involves locating the main idea of a text. Once located, this main idea would give you an overview for the supporting statements that you would have to read afterwards. Remember that skimming is used only when your purpose for reading allows you to read for general concepts rather than specific information (McWhorter, 453).

If you already know the text that you are about to read, then apply scanning. Aside from going directly to what you need, other words that pass through your scanning fingertips would somehow flash to your brain. Thus, you are exposed to the other information of the text. Glancing may be used to detect organizational pattern of a text as you basically go over the text in no particular order. Lastly, you could skip some parts of a text because either you feel that it is not too relevant or you already know the details of what is being discussed.

There are two things that we need to possess to get things going: motivation and self-discipline. Motivation gives you the drive to pursue what is needed to be done. It eliminates negative thoughts that hinder the fulfilment of your goals. Self-discipline, on the other hand, is the controlling factor to your pursued objective. If motivation gives you the head start, self-discipline helps you continue what you have started. Remember, these two do not guarantee success in achieving high grades, but it is definitely one step closer to that goal in mind. B.

System for reading textbooks A reading-study system is a step-by-step method for identifying, reading, studying, retaining, and recalling the most important information in a textbook chapter (Johnson, 450). There are many reading-study systems and among those identified in the book Stirring up Thinking are the following: SQ3RSurvey ? Question ? Read ? Recite ? Review SQ4RSurvey ? Question ? Read ? Recite ? “Rite” ? Review POINTPurpose ? Overview ? Interpret ? Note ? Test OK4ROverview ? Key Ideas ? Read ? Recite ? Review ? Reflect OK5ROverview ? Key Ideas ?

Read ? Record ? Recite ? Review ? Reflect PQRSTPreview ? Question ? Read ? Summarize ? Test RSVPReview ? Study ? Verbalize ? Preview OARWETOverview ? Ask ? Read ? Write ? Evaluate ? Test PANORAMAPurpose ? Adaptability ? Need to question ? Overview ? Read ? Annotate ? Memorize ? Assess There is actually nothing theoretically better than the rest of the systems. It really depends on the person reading which study system would work well in her personality and behavior. These help you understand and pay more attention to important details. C. Assessing what you read

After reading a textbook, challenge the information that you’ve learned and evaluate the text more carefully. This activity would separate the critical readers from those who are simply reading for the sake of fulfilling requirements. As readers already in higher education, it is expected that we dig deeper than comprehending the words that appear before our eyes. Higher level of thinking suggests that we should not accept everything as it is. Remember, not everything that we see in print is true or is acceptable. Skills should be developed in order to cater to this kind of mental activity.

Recognizing fact from opinion Author of textbooks do not always present the facts point-blank. The writer also injects his own thoughts or opinions about the subject which he could use as support for a point that he/she wants to prove. Recognizing that the statement is an opinion gives you the idea that you may or may not agree with what is written before you. Bear in mind though that opinions reflect the individual’s personal responses to people, events, and ideas, so you cannot prove them true or false, accurate or inaccurate, right or wrong (Flemming, 203).

Being an opinion, be aware that you need to evaluate the text in order to agree with the opinion of the author or disagree and formulate your own. Opinions are statements that express feelings, attitudes or beliefs and are neither true nor false (McWhorter, 392). To locate opinion in a text, be guided by the following words that suggest that what is written is merely an opinion and not a fact: seems, appears, presumably, probably, arguably, in my view, this suggests, and others. Facts, on the other hand, are statements that can be verified? that is, proven to be true or false (McWhorter, 392).

Once they are verified by background or previous knowledge and if they are presented with a reliable source, then it could be regarded as true. Otherwise, there is again a need to verify what you’ve read through other means like further reading about the subject or asking your professors or people who have more knowledge about the topic. Understanding Tone and Purpose The tone contributes to the impact that the text would make to the reader. Similar to oral speech wherein you are very much aware of the speaker’s tone, textbooks also mirror tone that would appeal best to the author’s audience, purpose, or subject matter.

Recognizing the way that the writer presents statements in a book helps you to be more objective. For example, the text discusses drug addiction. If the author writes something like – Drug addiction has been a major problem in any given place and it is but right that police officials start to strengthen their campaign on illegal drugs to protect the community against crimes. Illegal drugs should be solved as soon as possible – and you realize that the writer uses an authoritative tone, it will be of help to you as a reader to know what the general feeling of the writer is.

In the end, you would be able to feel the sentiments of the writer and at the same time you could evaluate the text more for your own understanding. The purpose of the author reflects his/her intention for writing. There are many different reasons why authors write? to criticize, describe, explain, prove, celebrate, expose, and so on? most of those reasons or purposes fall under two general headings: writing meant to inform or explain, and writing meant to persuade or convince (Flemming, 237). The purpose of the author for writing is evidenced by the tone elicited by the text.

Identification of the purpose of the writer is important because this would guide you in adjusting how critical you have to be. For example, an author who writes to describe implies less critical thinking than an author who writes to persuade. It is important to know the level of critical thinking to be applied because this is your basis into by how far you have to look into the text as it is presented by the author. Recognizing and evaluating bias Readers are human, and hence subject to various prejudices? to say nothing of gullibility, ignorance and emotionalism (Kurland, 163).

Bias does not necessarily have to be bad. In fact, this serves as guide for the reader to point out which parts of the text are problematic or which needs to be further evaluated. Biases provide the reader a point of limit as to how far the author has gone with such bias, whether or not the bias is still justifiable or when it has already affected the writer’s perspective in as far as it becomes a hindrance for the writer to give accurate assessment over something. Textbooks are mainly informative, and writers in this type of book generally keep their biases among themselves.

Biases don’t appear as evident as it would be as in to that of persuasive text, but somehow authors write in away that reflect their bias. For instance, an author who does not like the president could describe the president in a way that the author would list many details regarding the problems that the administration faced during the president’s time, and would limit the information about the successful projects that were implemented. In here, the reader should be alert so as not just to ride along and simply absorb the given information of the author.

Using your background knowledge To know which information you should further dwell into, check if the statements provided in the textbook coincide with your previous or background knowledge. Background knowledge is the basis for the conclusions that you will make after reading the text. The notion of prior knowledge encompasses factual knowledge because prior knowledge includes understanding based on experiences as well as assumptions about society and cultural values (Kurland, 37). Therefore, any statement that clashes with what you previously know is worth the time to ponder upon.

It could be that what you previously know might be wrong or the statement given in the book is false. This kind of comparison would help you become more open-minded and more effective in making decisions that are connected with the information that you learn. III. Application/Case study (refer to Appendix for the complete case) After being motivated for your reading assignment, having a system for learning and being aware of the skills necessary in understanding a text, let’s take a look at the case of this school girl, Yamillet who does not perform well in one of her reading subjects.

Yamillet is a student who is not interested in reading. Her reading comprehension needs improvement because she finds it hard to remember the main ideas and details of a text that she has read. She also has trouble with regards to understanding texts read independently. However, when texts are read aloud, her comprehension improves. The first thing that I would recommend to Yamillet is regarding her attitude on reading. She needs to be able to be motivated on reading. I know that it is not easy to start liking reading, but having a positive attitude on it will surely help.

For a start, she should be asked to read texts that are of her interest. According to her, she constantly reads the sports section of the newspaper and action and scary books appeal to her. The use of reading materials of this kind to help her in her reading comprehension would be very useful. Using these materials, she could have exercises on identifying the main ideas and the details of a given text. Reading of the materials that interest her should soon be followed by integrating other reading materials that she is not too fond of.

Reading assignments are not always about topics that interest you, so Yamillet has to develop a positive attitude on reading. There would be more reading that she would encounter as she gets into the next level of her education. Since Yamillet finds it hard to comprehend texts read silently, she could develop a study system that would work for her. There are many reading-study systems already formulated, and she just needs to find the right method for her to improve in independent reading assignments. The reading-study system that I would recommend to her is OK4R (Overview ? Key Ideas ? Read ? Recite ? Review ? Reflect).

I believe that this system would work for her because first of all, she needs to develop her recognition of the main ideas and supporting details. She would do this in the overview and key ideas part of the OK4R. Next, of course is the actual reading itself. And since she finds it hard to comprehend during independent readings, she has to recite what she has learned. Subsequently, she has to review back what she has read and compare it to what she had recited. Finally, Yamillet needs to reflect on the lessons and information that she has gained and relate it to her life or to events that she is familiar of to retain the information she got.


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