To help you better understand what you read, do this...
Reading Comprehension Tips: Level I
1) Think about your background knowledge. In other words, what do you already know about the topics or situations you are reading about? Link information that pops into your head before, during and after reading. Connect your thoughts to what you read. This will help you understand and connect with the reading.
2) Create mental images of what you are reading. Try to "play out" what you are reading in your head. If you try to create a mental movie, this will help you better understand what you read.
3 Ask yourself questions about what you are reading. Question yourself before, during and after reading to clarify events, help make predictions and focus your attention on what is most important. Asking yourself questions while reading will also help you realize what you understand and what you may need extra help with.
4) Make inferences while reading. In other words, make predictions, seek answers to questions, draw conclusions and create interpretations to understand more than what is written. Remember, an inference requires you to take what you already know, consider clues within the writing and make an educated guess about what you believe the author is trying to say. You make inferences/educated guesses all of the time. Make them while you read too!
5) Determine the importance. Identify key ideas and separate important and unimportant information. Ask yourself, what is the author's purpose for writing this?
6) Synthesize information while reading. Track your thinking during reading to get the overall meaning. See if you can recognize where you no longer understand what you are reading and figure out what is unclear.
7) Use fix-up strategies. Having trouble understanding words, phrases or longer passages? Skip ahead, reread, ask more questions, use a dictionary or read out loud. Stop, fix-up, check yourself and then continue reading!
Taking A Closer Look: Level II
1) Contrasts & Contradictions- When a character does something that contrasts with what you'd expect or contradicts his earlier statements or acts, STOP and ask, "Why is the character doing that?" The answer will help you make predictions and draw inferences about the plot and conflict.
2) Words of the Wiser- When a character (probably older and wiser) takes the main character aside and offers serious advice, STOP and ask, "What's the life lesson and how might it affect the character?" This lesson is probably the theme of the story.
3) Aha Moment- When a character realizes, understands, or finally figures out something, STOP and ask yourself, "How might this change things?" If it is a problem, it tells you something about the conflict; if it is a life lesson, it tells you something about the theme.
4) Again & Again- When you notice a word, phrase, or situation mentioned over and over, STOP and ask yourself, "Why does this keep happening again and again?" The answer will tell you about the theme and conflict, or will foreshadow what might happen later in the story.
5) Memory Moment- When the author interrupts the action to tell you about a memory, STOP and ask yourself, "Why might this memory be important?" The answer will tell you about the theme and conflict, or will foreshadow what might happen later in the story.
6) Tough Questions- When a character asks himself a very difficult question, STOP and ask yourself, "What does this question make me wonder about?" The answer will tell you about the conflict, and help you think about what might happen later in the story.
Remember: No matter what you are reading, it is important to pause and take a look at the structure. Pay attention to how the text is set up. This will often help you understand and analyze the writing.
To improve your writing, keep this in mind...
1) Think about possible IDEAS for what to write about. Think about the kind of information you would find/use to back up or explain your ideas. Would you be able to do a good job developing your ideas? If not, you may want to select another idea. Select an appropriate topic and information for the writing.
2) Organize your writing. Remember to place your information in logical order so readers will be able to clearly understand what you are trying to say.
3) Think about your voice as a writer. It's important to have a personal tone or flavor within your writing. Having tone helps writers get their message across.
4) Think about your word choice. Selecting the best vocabulary can help writers send their message, create voice and make writing pieces interesting for readers.
5) Think about your sentence fluency. Creating a variety of sentences can help create flow within your writing. For example, long sentences, short sentences, simple sentences, complex sentences, etc...
6) Consider your conventions. Make sure your spelling, capitalization, punctuation and word choice is all correct.
7) Take great care when presenting your information. Make sure your final work is well done and neat. Your completed work is a reflection of you. It creates an impression. This will hold true in middle school. high school, college, trade schools and especially in your place of employment.