The technique of skim reading
By Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin
As part of our daily routines, we often have dozens of documents we have to read. And we're challenged to do so quickly.
Whether it is a book, newspaper, or as writers, dozens of blogs and articles, we have to read all of them and do so well.
One of the speed reading techniques many would be interested in is skim reading.
What is this extremely useful technique? How exactly do we skim read and pass this much needed skill to our children?
What is skim reading?
For those who are less familiar with the concept,skim reading is a speed reading technique that bloggers and writers will welcome. Those of us who write know what it's like to be overwhelmed by volumes of text.
Skim reading involves a reader visually searching a passage for clues to the message, or salient points, the author is trying to convey.
For some, this is an innate skill. Others may struggle a little more with reading quickly. Adults, who've obviously many more years of experience reading, will have more practice with this reading skill.
Benefits of skim reading
Skim reading can be useful when you are previewing material to be read in more detail later. It's useful when we just want to grasp the gist of a text.
When doing research, skimming usually tells us when an article will be useful to us for further reading.
If you are in a profession that involves a lot of writing, you'll likely have to do a lot of reading as well. Skimming is a skill that can help us to cope with rushed time.
How to skim read
Disadvantages of skim reading
Skim reading must NEVER take the place of actual reading. The little details within a text will be left out if you merely skim without spending time gleaning details from each line.
It's not a useful skill to employ for exams, which will usually test you on smaller, lesser known details.
If the text you're reading involves a lot of statistics, it isn't advisable to merely skim.
Reading fiction or poetry usually requires an intimate knowledge of detail. Some non fiction texts, too, require a lot more attention than a mere skim. Skimming will leave minor but important details out.
How to skim read
- Take note of the title and subtitle of each paragraph.
- Look at headings or subheadings.
- Look for the topic sentence of each paragraph.
- Think like the author of the article.
- Skip examples.
How to skim read effectively
Still, it is a useful skill to employ when the need really arises. So what are the steps to take to skim read effectively?
Take note of the title and subtitle of each paragraph.
This will give us an idea of what the article is about.
Look at headings or subheadings.
These will tell you a little more about the details in each section of the text. .
Look for the topic sentence of each paragraph.
A topic sentence is usually the main idea of each paragraph, and is usually its first sentence. Occasionally, it may be the last sentence of the paragraph, if the writer is attempting to draw readers to its main point for better emphasis.
The topic sentence usually gives us the main ideas of each paragraph.
Think like the author of the article.
Further put yourself in the author's place.This helps us to anticipate the message the writer is trying to convey in his article. Look at how the author is laying out his material, It better helps you to understand his arguments and line of thinking.
Examples, on a skim read, can be left aside for when you're ready to explore the article in further depth.
Skim Reading Activities
Which of these would you like to try with your child?
Teaching children to skim read
Skim reading is a skill that can be brought to children in engaging ways. Remind them that these must never take the place of actual reading and should only be used before reading the text in detail.
I Spy Skimming
In a modified version of I Spy, children can be taught to locate words that are related to the text quickly.Have a stopwatch ready and preselect words that are related to the passage.
The fun lies in seeing how many words the child can pick out within a given time frame.
Follow this up by asking the child general questions about what the text could be about. Ensure that the text is not something he could have read earlier.
This technique is good for introducing children to new vocabulary as well.
As an early introduction to mind mapping, children can be taught to create story webs. These help them to determine the main ideas of texts and their supporting details.
Have the child locate the main idea of the text, then the supporting ideas that have to do with it. Write the main idea in the center of a blank sheet of paper, then, as a spider does, 'grow' the web with extensions of collocating ideas that have to do with it.
WIth the help of pictures, illustrate what the text is about. Use stick drawings if necessary, The idea is not to be an artist.
Lay these like a montage on hard bored or, in this digital age, use photo editing software like Adobe or Fotor to create a story board board montage. Remember lay them out in the same order as the circumstances of the text.
Show the story board to the child before letting him read the text. Let him relate what happens.
Then follow up with actual reading for detail.
Use this to stretch the budding artists out there. Children can draw or create their own storyboards.
Again, preselect words that you want the child to find.These words lead to a "treasure", the main idea of what the text is.
Ask the child to "hunt" for these words within the text within a given time frame. If there are two or more children, this can be turned into a fun challenge.
While it should never take the place of reading for detail, skim reading is also a necessary skill that assists greatly in the understanding of a text.
Original work by Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin All Rights Reserved
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