This semester, the ITI is focusing on IDEAs. IDEAs are intentionally designed educational activities featured in the book Teaching for Learning by Major, Harris, and Zakrajsek. These IDEAs are designed to respond to what the research reported says about readings:

  1. Guided reading helps learning.
  2. Summarizing/annotating information improves learning. 
  3. Question-answer tasks improve learning.
  4. Tying to the reader experience improves learning, according to students. 

Try out some of these IDEAs this semester!

1. Anticipation Guide

What it is: Students are asked to respond to a series of questions and to make predictions prior to reading in order to activate prior knowledge and increase curiosity.

How to do it: 1) Write up 8-10 questions that will challenge students to think about the concept. 2) Share the guide with the class. 3) Ask students to respond to each question and to share their thoughts. 4) Then ask students to read the assigned text. 5) Have students reevaluate their answers in light of what they learned from the text. 

2. Experience-Text-Relationship

What it is: The activity begins by asking students about their Experiences with a topic, then asking questions from the Text, and concludes by asking Relationship questions that help students bridge their own experience and the knowledge from the text.

How to do it: 1) Ask questions about the students’ background and prior knowledge of the topic. 2) Next, have students read a particular passage or section of the reading. Resume the discussion by asking students to identify themes in the text, important points, or confusing areas that can be clarified. 3) Ask questions that invite the students to draw connections between the themes and concepts from the text and their own experiences.

3. SQ3R

How to do it: Explain the following framework to students:
S: Survey helps students gather the basic structure of the topic presented in the reading, including reading the title, headings, graphics, and any text called out such as definitions or objectives. 
Q: Turn headings and other main ideas identified in the survey stage into questions
3R: Students read the text to capture the main ideas as identified in the survey and question stages, writing answers to any questions. Students recite material. Students review each of the questions and answers.

4. Problematic Situation

What it is: This activity prompts students to think critically in order to determine solutions to a presented problem based on course material.

How to do it: 1) Divide students into groups of ideally three to five students, and share the problem with the class. 2) Ask each group to identify a solution or set of solutions using evidence from the text or additional class readings. 3) Ask students to come together as a class and discuss their solutions. 4) Finally, ask students to identify the solution with the most evidence from the reading.

5. Text Coding

What it is: By coding the text while reading, students remained focused on the meaning of what they are reading beyond simply attempting to complete an assignment for class. Examples include a check mark for ideas that confirm prior thinking, an X for ideas that contradict, a question mark (?) for text that is confusing, an exclamation point (!) for new ideas, and a star or asterisk (*) for important ideas.

How to do it: 1) Develop and share a coding list for students. 2) Demonstrate coding on small section of text. 3) Ask students to complete the reading using the coding list. 4) Have students work in small groups to review.

6. Question-Answer Relationship

What it is: Using the Question– Answer Relationship, students learn to break questions into one of four categories while in groups: 

1) Right There (answer is in the text), 
2) Think and Search (answer is in the text but you might have to combine it across sections), 
3) Author and You (answer is not in the text but, in combination with your own knowledge, you can figure it out), and 
4) On My Own (answer is not in the text, and you do not even need to read the text to answer it).

7. Three-Level Reading Guide

What it is: This process is achieved by having students think about the three levels of comprehension of a text: literal, interpretive, and applied.

How to do it: 1) Explain the levels of comprehension of a text: literal, interpretive, and applied. 2) Have the students individually or in groups identify 8 ideas that are literally in the text. 2) Ask the students to note 4 ideas that are interpreted for what the author might mean. 3) Have the students write down 3 ideas that combine with other course materials to make generalizations or hypotheses about the topic. 4) Debrief with the class about what points they identified.  

8. What Would You Ask?

What it is: What Would You Ask? requires students to think about the course objectives, identify key points, and draw conclusions about the most salient aspects of a reading.

How to do it: 1) Explain the activity by asking students to play the role of instructor and to write questions based on a reading or set of readings. 2) Working individually or in small groups, ask students to write down questions from the reading that they believe the instructor should ask. 3) Time permitting, the students can trade and answer the questions raised by others in class. 

9. Select a Sentence

What it is: The instructor asks each student or groups of students to identify one sentence that they believe contains a significant idea for the class topic.

How to do it: 1) Ask students individually or in groups (depending on the size of the class) to identify a sentence that contains a significant idea or concept. 2) Ask students to share their sentence. Write down key phrases or ideas on the board. Group the phrases by theme. 3) Discuss major themes identified.