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Nurturing the “Cognitive Enterprise” of Reading

Leigh Ann and Ella

Reading has been called a “cognitive enterprise” and it happens as a result of the connection between the reader and the text. – What do I visualize?  What connections can I make?  Does this make sense? – Successful readers monitor their reading, use strategies for understanding, and evaluate their efforts.  To comprehend a text, a reader has to be consciously aware of what strategies to use and how to effectively carry them out to make the reading meaningful.  As educators, we need to purposefully help students become aware of the skills they can use to improve their comprehension.  We need to nurture that “cognitive enterprise.”

Creating awareness of the metacognitive strategies – the way we think about our thinking – provides students with the tools for greater understanding.  Examining how successful readers think about their reading is time well spent in our classrooms.  The Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies Inventory (MARSI) lists tools readers use to gain meaning from a text.  This inventory was designed to help students analyze their thinking strategies, but it also provides us with a variety of sound tools that we can share with students as we help them build their reading toolboxes.

Here are some points to ponder from the inventory:

  • I have a purpose when I read.
  • I take notes while reading to help me understand what I read.
  • I think about what I know to help me understand what I read.
  • I preview the text to see what it’s about before reading it.
  • When a text becomes, difficult I read aloud to help me understand what I read.
  • I summarize what I read to reflect on important info in the text.
  • I think about whether the content of the text fits my reading purpose.
  • I read slowly and carefully to be sure I understand what I’m reading.
  • I discuss what I read with others to check my understanding.
  • I skim the text first by noting characteristics like length and organization.
  • I try to get back on track when I lose concentration.
  • I underline or circle information in the text to help me remember it.
  • I adjust my reading speed according to what I’m reading.
  • I decide what to read closely and what to ignore.
  • I use reference materials such as dictionaries to help me understand what I read.
  • When a text becomes difficult, I pay closer attention to what I’m reading.
  • I use tables, figures, and pictures in text to increase my understanding.
  • I stop from time to time and think about what I’m reading.
  • I paraphrase to better understand what I read.
  • I try to picture or visualize information to help remember what I read.
  • I use typographical aids like boldface and italics to identify key information.
  • I critically analyze and evaluate the information presented in a text.
  • I go back and forth in the text to find relationships among ideas.
  • I check my understanding when I come across conflicting information.
  • I try to guess what the material is about when I read.
  • When text becomes difficult, I reread to increase my understanding.
  • I ask myself questions I like to have answered in the text.
  • I check to see if my guesses about the text are right or wrong.
  • I try to guess the meaning of unknown words or phrases.

The use of metacognitive reading strategies creates a conscious path to better comprehension.  Helping our young readers develop these skills provides them with the tools to plan, monitor, and gather meaning from a text.  When we nurture the “cognitive enterprise” of reading we will truly help our students grow.

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