Active Critical Reading Process 1

Course Learning Objective: Active Reading, Critical Reading, & Informal Reading Response – 15%

Active, critical readers mark their texts by underlining, highlighting, or otherwise identifying key passages in a reading. They treat margins as places to ask questions, to sketch connections, and to express their ideas or thoughts about a text. And they work to follow a writer’s line of argument, to locate and evaluate the claims, and to imagine possible challenges. They aim to grasp key concepts and examples, while also locating moments where they might disagree with a writer. An active reader uses informal writing in response to specific moments in a text to discover one’s thoughts, to improve one’s understanding, and to explore connections between readings. A student engaged in these practices is moving in the direction of mastery.

Some markers of active, critical reading include:

  • Marginal (or similar) note-taking that shows a reader asking questions, understanding key concepts or examples, drawing relationships between parts of a text or across multiple texts, challenging claims in a text
  • Focused informal writing that shows a reader extending ideas, challenging ideas, exploring connections between texts, and/or considering implications of specific passages for an idea
  • Presenting specific passages and ideas about those passages in small-group work, in an informal presentation to the class, in a blog post, or elsewhere


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