One of the most important skills students can learn is critical thinking and, by extension, critical reading. Critical reading helps students form their own opinions about texts and teaches them to think for themselves. If students come from an educational background where this skill has not been prioritized, they may have trouble with the concept. Here are some questions that students can ask as they learn how to read critically.
The Big Question
The big question students should ask themselves when they read any text is: "Am I thinking about what I'm reading?" That's an easy question to answer with a simple "yes" or "no," but the most successful students will break the question down further by asking the following sub-questions.
- What sources did the author use?
- What is the author's background?
- Who is the intended audience of the text?
- What was the author's purpose in writing this piece?
- What information does the author assume is true?
- Does understanding the information depend on knowing the context?
- Does the author show any biases?
- Is the author stating facts or opinions?
- What is the author's final conclusion? Do you agree with it?
Let's try it!
These questions can be applied to any text. Assign your students a short article and have them answer the questions. Then put them in groups to discuss their answers. For bonus points, see if your students can think of other critical reading questions. There will be as many interpretations of the text as there are students, so encourage healthy debate.
Developing these skills will turn your students into free-thinking individuals, which will help them not only throughout their academic careers, but also throughout their lives.