The processing controls of attention help readers manage information as they read. Every passage contains chunks of information that must be taken in, analyzed for meaning, and finally, combined with prior knowledge. Good readers process each chunk of information in terms of its relevancy or irrelevancy to the construction of the meaning of the text, carefully retaining information that is central to comprehension.
Here are some strategies for enhancing reading comprehension by focusing on processing during reading.
- Provide students with outlines to help focus their attention on important information in a passage.
- Provide students with text in which some words or ideas have been highlighted or underlined, as a model for them to follow.
- Provide “jump-starts” by reading the first part of a text to students, or by reading it with them. Point out the important information in the text you’ve read together.
- Prioritize information that students should be aware of (or attend to) in a certain passage. For example, suggest that they first read for facts [names, dates], second, read for important themes, etc.
- Have students read guiding questions before reading the text, and encourage them to refer to these questions while reading, as well.
- Introduce new vocabulary words, important concepts, names, dates, etc. before students read a new text or passage.
- Help students develop their use of reading comprehension strategies, such as summarizing after reading and paraphrasing during reading.
- Provide opportunities for students to pull out key points from readings related to their affinity areas, or areas of interest.