Sponsored by Reading Progress in Teams.
This is a mistake I see so many teachers, speakers, and other presenters make, and it’s so easy to fix! Here’s the problem: We give our students something to read—it might be a handout, a syllabus, a brand-new assignment, a PowerPoint slide, a website—you get the idea. And ostensibly we want them to read the thing. But then we start talking. And some of us talk and talk and never stop, the whole time these poor kids are supposed to be reading the thing we just gave them. I don’t know about you, but my brain doesn’t work like that. I can’t read one thing with words and listen to something else with different words and actually process both.
And then—then!—when the allotted time for reading is up, some of us go ballistic when (a) a student shows lack of understanding of the material they were supposed to read, or (b) a student seems to have not been listening to the thing we just said. The truth is, we caused this problem.
So the next time you have something written that you want students to read, but you also have some stuff you need to say out loud, provide separate times for both.
- Maybe you need to explain something about the handout—great, do it before distributing it.
- Too late? That’s ok, just tell everyone to stop reading for a second and look up at you. Or turn off the slide you’re showing. Wait until you have their full attention. Then tell them what you need to tell them.
- When you do give them something that they must read to themselves, give them quiet to do it. Tell them ahead of time that you’re going to give them a few minutes of quiet, and ask everyone to respectfully give that to each other.
- Are students going to have questions about the thing that might cause some discussion-style interruptions? Fine. Instruct them to jot down their questions while reading and let them know there will be time for Q&A.
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