- Key Words: Reading, Student-centered learning
- Learner English Level: Intermediate to Advanced
- Learner Maturity Level: Junior high school to adult
- Preparation Time: About an hour
- Activity Time: 10-15 minutes
I developed the reading activities evaluation sheet as a means to make my intermediate level English students more aware of their learning. After using the evaluation sheet for half a term, my students were able to identify for themselves what reading skills they needed to work on. This was advantageous when it came to mid-term counseling: If the instructor identifies a student's weak point and informs the student, the student will put less weight on the instructor's advice than if the student first identifies the weak point.
The layout of the evaluation sheet evolved over the course of a term and a half with two different classes. The vocabulary used in the sheet may be difficult for low intermediate readers, however, I choose to use this vocabulary since it replicates the sort of vocabulary which would appear in a questionnaire for native speakers of English, and it can be explained without too much difficulty.
Since comprehension is usually the most important initial outcome of reading the first subjective question asks the students to tell what information they have learnt about the topic of their reading. I put the next strongest weight on reading skills which will lead to greater comprehension and language learning. Each of the skills listed is something which I will attempt to teach the students to do at some point in the term.
The third section moves from reading learning/comprehension strategies, to what language the students think they have actually learnt during their reading. This section taps the students conscious awareness of new vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation items they have learnt; this is only the tip of the iceberg since it only elicits items that they can consciously remember and produce out of context. The division into words and phrases, and new vocabulary and new meanings for vocabulary heightens the students' awareness of chunking and contextual variation of meaning.
The final section provides the instructor with some affective feedback to help him or her in the selection of subsequent readings.
I usually give the evaluation sheet to the students after completing each chapter in the reading textbook and any supplementary reading on the same theme. Anything on a different theme or read more than a week before the evaluation is generally too hard to remember.
I instruct the students to fill out the sheet from memory, i.e., not looking back at the readings, and to work by themselves to see what they can remember. I stress that the important thing is thinking about what and how they have learnt since this will help them with their future learning. I also stress that this is not a test.
Filling out the sheet the first time will take about 30 minutes since it is new and they don't know what to do. I have the students work in small groups for reading so I go around to each group and explain what to do and help with misunderstandings as they fill out the sheet. After the students have done this two or three times, they know what they're doing and understand the purpose of the exercise so 10-15 minutes should be long enough.
I collect the sheets, look through them, and write questions and advice where needed on each student's sheet. Sometimes I ask students to write more about the topic next time, or I question the ticking of a skill I haven't taught. I make a note of how each student did in filling out the sheet, noting any specific problem. I also make a note whenever a student indicates that the readings were boring, difficult, or easy.
I return the evaluation sheet to the students the next day and ask them to file them in their portfolios - another device that can be used to help the students become more aware of their own learning.
Before my students come for counseling, I give them a counseling preparation sheet. Part of this sheet asks them to read through the reading evaluation sheets they have completed up to that point in the term. On the counseling preparation sheet I list the same skills as appear on the reading evaluation sheet in the same format except that instead of ticking a box, they have to write a number between 1 and 5 indicating how well they think they can do these skills. The students therefore identify the skill areas where they think they are weak. On another part of the counseling preparation form I ask the students to write what they plan to do to improve their writing in the future. They often include things which will help them improve on their previously identified reading weaknesses.
Using this reading evaluation sheet makes students more aware of their own learning and more able to take control of it. The instructor does not have to spend so much time persuading students that they have a reading weakness in a particular area and need to work on it; instead, the students identify their own reading weaknesses, formulate their own solutions, and come to the instructor for advice.
Sample Evaluation Sheet
Reading Activities Evaluation
- What have you learnt from the most recent set of reading activities?
- (If you need more space, please write on the back of this sheet.)
- Titles of reading passages:
- What new things have you learnt about the topic of the passages?
- What skills have you learnt or improved in?
- Reading quickly for the main idea of the passage
- Predicting what the passage will be about from clues in the title, pictures, charts, etc.
- Predicting what the rest of the passage will be about from the first and last paragraph
- Predicting what each paragraph will be about from the first sentence of each paragraph
- Searching quickly for specific information in the passage
- Understanding the meaning of a sentence without knowing the exact meaning of each word
- Working out the meaning of new words from their context in the passage
- Learning how to use words from their context in the passage
- What new words have you learnt?
- What new phrases have you learnt?
- What words or phrases have you learnt new meanings for?
- What grammar, punctuation, etc. have you learnt?
These readings were:
- neither interesting nor boring
These readings were:
- just right