Reading and Understanding

Learning to Think Like the Teacher

Before Reading


  • Psych yourself up! Create interest; set goals; ask questions.
  • Use what you already know: Review old information. Make internal and external connections.
  • Intend to remember: Make the conscious decision to remember what you read, and monitor your performance.
  • Anticipate test questions: Select what you need to know, and begin to think like the teacher.
  • Read: Title, headings, subheadings, outline, summary, and end of chapter questions.
  • Look: At pictures, graphs, charts, diagrams, etc.
  • Think: About what you already know, what you will need to know, and what you will need to do to learn the material.
  • Begin to formulate questions: Ask "Do I have a clear idea of what this chapter is about?" Ask who, what, when, and where questions.
  • Set personal and textual goals: Personal: What do you personally want to know? Textual: What does the class/teacher require you to know?

During Reading

Read and Annotate

  • Be selective based on:

    • What you already know
    • The amount of material and the way it's presented
    • The kind of information the text and/or the teacher stresses
    • The types of quizzes, exams, papers, class discussion and other "performances" you have to give
  • Create meaningful organization: Put away your highlighters. Write, don't just underline. Remember that what you mark is for future reviewing.
  • Work on one "chunk" of the text at a time.
  • Put information into your own words whenever possible.

After Reading


  • Organize and REDUCE the information: Take notes on your notes.
  • Put ideas - main ideas and details: Into your own words and your own format.
  • Use Rehearsal Strategies: Mapping, concept/cue cards, matrix charts.
  • Monitor your learning: Ask yourself if you're getting your questions answered and if you understand the material.
  • Distribute your study time: Don't plan to study for more than two hours at a time.


Adapted from Developing Textbook Thinking, Nist & Diehl, D.C. Heath, 1990.