We all have students that consider reading the process of lightly scanning the pages and letting their mind wander into dreamland. Five pages later, they have no idea what they read. SQ3R is a reading strategy that solves this problem by arming students with the skills necessary for active reading. It teaches students how to engage with the text and make reading a functional learning process. Simply put, SQ3R teaches students to think about what they are reading while they are reading. The method is composed of five steps that, with practice, will develop students into stronger independent readers.
Step One: Survey
Before reading, students survey the text. Have them notice the tile, subtitles, illustrations, and graphics. Students can also read the first paragraph, last paragraph, and the text summary (if provided). The purpose of surveying the text is to trigger background information and focus the mind on the task of reading.
Step Two: Question
Next, students formulate questions about the text in order to engage, concentrate, and build a general awareness of the text topic. Generating questions before reading will create a sense of purpose and help students remain focused on the text.
Step Three: Read
Students actively read the text with their self-generated questions in mind. Ideally, they will find answers to the questions that arose during step two of the strategy. It is critical to stress to students the importance of re-reading portions of the text that are unclear. When students have a purpose for reading, reading becomes intentional, making active reading an easier and more natural experience.
Step Four: Recite
After reading the text, students think about the information in their own words. Summarizing the text will help students conceptualize the material. Also, students are more likely to remember the information from the text if they can clearly describe it.
Step Five: Review
The last step in the SQ3R method requires students to review the text in a more detailed manner. At this point, students should be able to answer the questions they formulated before reading the text. Taken a step further, students can answer comprehension questions, complete a graphic organizer, or participate in a group discussion about the text.
The SQ3R method promotes concentration while reading. If done correctly, it is a valuable skill that empowers students to be able to extract as much information as possible from a text. As with any reading comprehension strategy, modeling and scaffolding the process is required until students are able to naturally integrate each step when reading independently. Utilizing the graphic organizer below is a great way to introduce and familiarize students with the SQ3R strategy.