Strategies for Helping Readers
Setting a Purpose for Reading
Identifying the reason for reading. Purpose setting can be greatly enhanced by activating prior knowledge and by previewing and utilizing text structure. Although purpose setting is sometimes set by the teacher or assignment, skilled readers incorporate and internalize external purposes. Purposes can be for entertainment, to get information, or to learn how to perform a task.
Watch a Video About This Strategy
Suzanne Clewell and Joe Czarnecki
"The third strategy, setting a purpose for reading, is best done through modeling. So that we talk to students about why we read something and come up with real reasons for reading not just because you're going to get a test and a score on that paper for a grade. But to give them the reasons that we read the Washington Post and that we read CD manuals and that we read recipes so that they can come up with their own good reasons."
"We also know from reading research that it's very important for students to have purposes, very specific purposes when they read. We know that when you're reading without a purpose, and almost all of us have experienced some time in our life where we lost our purpose for reading and then we realized we didn't remember much of what we read."
"So purpose setting is really crucial. So there are many opportunities where the teacher can suggest a purpose or students are encouraged to set their own purpose."
When Can It Be Used?
Before and during reading.
What You Can Do to Support This Strategy:
Ask readers a key question: Why are you reading this text? Readers generally read for the literary experience or to acquire or and use information. Sometimes, readers keep both purposes in mind.
Brainstorm with your class about other reasons they might want to read something. Possible answers include to form an opinion, to evaluate the writer’s style, to form questions about things they need to explore further, etc.
Find Out More
Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) handbook for reading offers tips on helping students set a purpose for their reading.
This chapter, from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), concentrates on the purposes and processes of reading comprehension.
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