When your child reads, can he identify topics, main ideas, and supporting details? Can she summarize what is read in her own words? Does he use effective test-taking strategies for exams? Can she organize her thoughts into well-written paragraphs?
If you answered no to any of these questions, then, chances are, your child lacks effective reading comprehension, note-taking, test-taking, or organizational strategies - strategies that are critical to middle and high school success. This lack often leads to frustration, poor grades, weak motivation, and a dwindling self-esteem.
The following is a reading comprehension and study skills technique, one of the many strategies that are important for giving your child an edge in understanding material, studying for tests, attacking textbooks, and taking notes. It is a strategy that is used by some of the most successful middle school, high school, and college students.
The PPORA Method
The PPORA Method is a great tool for improving reading comprehension and study skills. The acronym stands for Preview, Post-it, Organize, Review, and Answer. Here's what it's all about:
Preview: Read all headings, sub-headings, picture captions, bold words, and questions to get an overall picture of what you're about to read. This will prepare you for what is to come.
Post-it: Read each paragraph. At the end of each paragraph, stop and describe in your own words what it was about. Then, using small-size Post-it notes, write two or three words that summarize that description. Place these Post-it notes on the margins next to the text.
Organize: After you have written Post-it notes for the entire section, create a graphic organizer using the information on the Post-its. There are many types of graphic organizers; choose one that best suits your learning modality. A visual learner, for example, would probably benefit from a spider-like organizer. To create this type of organizer, write the main idea of the section in a circle in the center of the page. Next, create "legs" containing the text from each Post-it note. Underneath those legs, list bullet points of the important details, in your own words, from the text.
Review: Review the information on the graphic organizer, including the main points and supporting details.
Answer: Answer the questions that are given at the end of the section. By this point, the answers should be a piece of cake!
Students' comprehension abilities improve many-fold using this technique, in just a short time period. It is one of the many structured and systematic techniques that are crucial components of academic success.
DR. EMILY LEVY is the director of EBL Coaching, which offers one-on-one tutoring and three-week intensive summer programs. For more information, call 212-249-0147 or visit www.eblcoaching.com.