How to use a Reading To Learn Strategy in a Blended Classroom

Below is a video showing the wonderful Bridget Williams modelling our Reading To Learn Strategy, augmented for my Blended Classroom. I have not been trained in this strategy, so Bridget is modelling it for me.

My class seems to have acquired this skill to scan, highlight, summarize and re-write, as they have been able to employ it independently. They are working through a series of text-heavy article as part of a written assignment, so I plan on using this strategy for their next article so that I can develop my skills with Reading To Learn. After that, I might experiment with incorporating some other Detailed Reading strategies (outlined below the video).

For example, I would like my students to be able to refine this process with the ability to easily identify what needs to be highlighted, without my modelling as a Que. Perhaps the GIST method can be incorporated? Another sticking point for students was the re-write. My aim is always to release responsibility so that students can use new skills and knowledge independently; so I might incorporate some of these other strategies and see which ones students are able to confidently reproduce.

Keep a lookout for my next blog about reading.

Detailed or Close Reading in a Blended Classroom
Detailed Reading techniques encourage an active engagement with text as well as providing students with a useful record of their reading. Passively reading large amounts of text is not effective, while active note taking techniques increase levels of concentration and understanding.
Detailed Reading involves:

  • underlining and highlighting to pick out what seem the most central or important words and phrases.
  • keywords to record the main headings as you read; using one or two keywords for each main point.
  • questions to encourage an active approach to reading. Recording questions as you read can also be used as prompts for follow up work;
  • summaries to check you have understood what you have read. Pause after a section of text and put what you have read in your own words. Skim over the text to check the accuracy of your summary, filling in any significant gaps.

Why Detailed Reading?

  • Stimulates critical thinking skills.
  • Helps students remember what is said in class.
  • Helps students work on assignments and prepare for tests outside of the classroom.
  • Allow students to help each other problem solve.
  • Help students organize and process data and information.
  • Helps student recall by getting them to process their notes 3 times (if SQ4R and Cornell is used)
  • Reading and Writing is a great tool for learning!

Three Strategies:

  • SQ4R Strategy Combined with Cornell Note Taking
  • GIST
  • Sum It Up

1. SQ4R Strategy Combined with Cornell Note Taking
Before you start reading:
Survey to get an overview of what you will be studying
Why Survey?
1) To give a purpose to your reading
2) To find out how difficult the material is going to be for you
3) To estimate how much time you will need to read the assignment

How to survey
1) Read the text title.
ASK: “What does it mean?”
2) Read the Introduction.
              ASK: “What will be covered in this chapter?”
3) Read the main headings and subheadings.
              ASK: “How are the main ideas going to be covered?”
4) Read the summary at the end of the text or chapter.
              ASK: “What are the chapter’s major points?”
5) Note any study aids such as pictures, charts, etc.
              ASK: “Why are these included in this chapter?”
6) Note any important and/or unfamiliar terms.
              ASK: “What might these words mean?”

How to Question?

  • Read each title or heading.
  • Turn each title or heading into a question.

Title = “How the Aztecs Adapted”
Questions = “What did the Aztecs adapt to?”
“Why did the Aztecs have to adapt?”


  • Start reading while thinking about the questions that you wrote earlier.
  • Do not move onto the next section until you have answered your questions.

Cornell Notes!
Remember, Cornell notes are not just a way to set up your paper
Cornell notes require:
– adding or deleting notes
– highlighting or underlining
– questions in the left margin
– a summary at the bottom



Class Title

Class Notes

3 to 4 sentence summary across the bottom of the day’s notes


  • Questions should elicit critical thinking skills
  • Questions should reflect:
  • Info you don’t understand or want to discuss with your teacher/tutor.
  • Info you think would go good on an essay test.
  • Gaps in your notes

Computerized Notes
These are the same but without the left hand side column. Just use underlined headings instead

Tips on Taking Text Notes
Be an Active Reader:

  • Consider how the parts relate to the whole; how the text relates to previous ideas
  • Create questions about new words/ terms, why emphasized points are important

Be Aware of Textbook Organization:

  • Look for the pattern in elements like chapter /subsection  headings, summary points, graphics

Use the text style to identify important points:

  • Become familiar with the font, symbols, borders, graphics, colors, and layout that highlight main ideas or terms
  • Be alert to the writer’s goal: highlight ideas/ references /opinions that seem significant to their                                         point of view

Take notes while reading:

  • Include headings, key terms, & graphics
  • Take down only the important ideas: brief, but clear
  • Summarize in your own words
  • Use symbols to highlight for review
  • Use textbook review questions to develop study questions


  • Summarize out loud
  • If you cannot find the right words, you probably do not have as good as a grasp of the material as you think you do.

To help you remember the key points in the chapter
Cover up your notes and quiz yourself using your Cornell note questions.


  • Immediately after completing the entire reading assignment
  • Periodically to keep the material fresh in your mind

How to Use This Strategy in a Blended Classroom?
There will be many times when students will be independently reading moderate amounts of text in learning resources. You may well have some accompanying comprehension questions or you may not. In the case where you do provide comprehension questions, this strategy is still an effective way to have students actively read and learn, so it certainly is complementary as well.
In a Personalized classroom, students may seek out their own answers in an inquiry and encounter a variety of texts that they need to read, understand and use to create their own learning and understandings.
Use Learning Logs
This technique to help students focus on what you are learning in class. Writing in a learning log is a great way to use reading and writing as a process of discovery and for clarification of ideas.
Every time a student is exposed to a moderate to large body of text, have them create a journal entry in your Virtual Classroom. This is a great formative assessment tool as you can clearly see what a student has actively read and understood. You can also adapt this so that it is collaborative by having students blog and share their notes as well.
This is a good approach to take as part of the Discover phase of Project Based Learning.
Lead-in Activities
If this is the first time your class has been exposed to this kind of strategy, then use the Gradual Release of Responsibility strategy to train them in these skills. If you have a younger grade, you may like to explore Group Reciprocal Reading strategies as a foundation.

SQ4R Worksheet
Text Title: ____________
Author (s) _____________
What major topics are included in this text?
Scan and list any major vocabulary words
Q -Question
Turn the first heading into a question. Use who, what, where, why, and how.
R-Read Actively (annotate: write in the margins, highlight, underline…)
Read the material following the first heading looking for the answer to your question.
R- wRite
Reread the heading and recall the question you asked. Use the Cornell note taking system to briefly answer this question in your own words without looking at the section. Check to see if you are correct.
Continue using the question, read and wRite steps until you have finished each part of the text. Then complete the review step. You may want to include definitions in your notes.
After completing your notes, review them by covering up the right side of your Cornell notes and trying to answer the questions on the left side. Then check to see if your answers are correct.
Take a few minutes to reflect about what you have read/ studied.
Compare new ideas to What you already know.
Ask yourself
‘ How can I use this?”


1. Scan the page and try to predict what the information is about and what comes next as you scan each paragraph
2. Read the page or section of the textbook
3. Fill in the 5Ws and 1H you found out from your reading
4. Using these facts, Write a 20-word or less GIST summary

3. Sum It Up
1. Read the page or section of the textbook
2. While you are reading, list key words or phrases in the blank space provided below. The words must convey the main idea of the passage.
3. Circle all the keywords above that are the most important in the text.
4. Use the main idea words listed above to write a 20 word summary


An Easy Way to Track Learning in a Contemporary Classroom

“The three forms” by Christopher Michel is licensed under CC BY 2.0


1.Define Learning Goals in answer to the question: “What do we want students to learn?”

For this I create a Proficiency Scale, for a topic,  so that students and I can track learning within the topic’s learning sequence. This also provides both the cognitions and qualities required for success at each stage of mastery. In practice, it looks like this:

WALT/ WILF Scale Standard 4 Standard 3.5 Standard 3 Standard 2 Standard 1
Implementation and evaluation The student work has the following characteristics:

Use of a variety of complex technical skills and resources to present an efficient and effective solution:

  • Import files
  • Strokes, fills and vectors
  • Text
  • Shape tweens
  • Symbols
  • Motion tweens
  • Publishing
The student work has the following characteristics:

Use of a variety of technical skills and resources to present an efficient solution:

  • Import files
  • Strokes, fills and vectors
  • Text
  • Shape tweens
  • Symbols
The student work has the following characteristics:

Use of technical skills and resources to present a solution:

  • Import files
  • Strokes, fills and vectors
  • Text
The student work has the following characteristics:

Use of basic technical skills and resources to present a partial solution:

The student work has the following characteristics:

Use of isolated technical skills to produce an output:

The easy part is that this is lifted straight out of the syllabus and I have just added lists of content as a way of adding a quantity dimension to the descriptors. The P-10 equivalent of this are the Standards Elaborations provided by the QCAA. So, now my scale has cognition, quality and quantity. Instead of A-E, I use a 4-point scale, with a B being roughly 3.5. The reason for this is that I want to use this for formative assessment and not as a final summative grade.

2. Design Instructional Strategies in answer to the question: “How can we design learning to support student engagement and progression?”

Both engagement and progression can be achieved with Personalized Learning strategies. At the beginning of the topic I introduce students to the WALTS and WILFs and have them set goals (feedup) in their online Learning Journals (Blackboard). They do this by copying the scale and highlighting where they wish to end up. Then, as they master the skills at each level, they highlight in a different colour (feedback/feedforward), until they reach their goal. This is mostly a self-assessment, but I facilitate by conferencing with students about how they are going and give them feedback as well.

3. Assess Learning

This is the really easy part, because students have managed this for me.  Remember, differentiation is something a teacher does (monitor learning and re-design for different learner needs), while personalization is something a student does. Technology has also enabled this process of personalized formative assessment. Then, in a PLC meeting, it is easy to flip through student journals and collaboratively evaluate the effectiveness of instructional strategies and the progress of students.

Additional Strategies

The Single Point Rubric

These are useful for students to use in order to understand and demonstrate the level of mastery they have achieved and to decide if they have achieved their goal. This could also be incorporated into a portfolio reflection and could be annotated in student learning journals in the same post as their learning goal tracking process.

Single Point rubrics work by having students create three columns, with the goal in the middle and, the evidence that they have met the goal on the left and any concerns they have on the right. Remember, this is more a self-evaluation, rather than a reflection and students need to “argue their case” for mastery based on evidence from their work.



Basic 3D Printing in Your Class

“3D Printing” by CSM Library is licensed under CC BY 2.0


This guide is intended for situations where you want to value-add to your lessons or provide inspiration to students about your content or topic. If you want to use 3D printing as part of a project where students design and make something new (create), then you also need to seek out a curriculum guide for designing and developing products that solve a problem. This guide ranges from finding a suitable 3D object and printing it, to finding a nearly suitable object and making small modifications, to customize it before printing it out. Students could extend on this themselves by making something from scratch, without the guidance of a formalized design process.

Step 1 – Find your thing

There are two resources that can be employed:

  1. – this even has a customizer
  2. – search engine for 3D Models

Whichever way you go, you can download the .STL file you need. This can be either loaded straight into a 3D printer or customized somewhere else. Much of the 3D models in thingiverse can be customized.

Step 2 – Re-mix your thing

Go no further than . Here, students can upload the .STL file they found and modify it. It’s a good idea for them to try the basic tutorials to get a feel for the tinkercad environment. There may even be a tutorial or project that is exactly what students want to make anyway.

Step 3 – Print your thing

To do this, your students just need to have the .STL file of their thing. For WHS reasons, someone else will print out their thing. If this is a regular activity for your class, then it’s a good idea to train several print monitors or technicians and then students can see this happening in your class. Either way, you will probably need to make arrangements for the manufacturing process.

Instructional Strategies

  1. Grouping – I highly recommend that students have a ‘buddy’ to work with when learning how to use tynkercad
  2. Discovery Learning – You will probably not have many of the skills needed for 3D creation and printing. Even if you do, I’m sure there will be some rare skills that you do not have. Therefore, guide students to the thingiverse site and have them explore it together and share what they have discovered. This may mean some movement around the room. Use the stategy, “ask 3 before you ask me”. Even when a student asks you a question that you can’t answer, call out and ask the class if they have a solution. Nine times out of ten, someone will. When students go to tinkercad, direct them to complete the basics tutorials first before attempting any modifications. These can also be reviewed as a reference point later. Again, have students collaborate and help each other.


From here, students may well want to delve deeper into 3D design or you may want to pursue Project-based Learning in another unit. Therefore, your next steps could be:

  1. – this has entire curricular K-8, but needs a subscription.
  2. – free design, engineering, animation, and architecture courses
  3. – very easy 3D Design software that is free for Education. It is also very well supported and has an extensive 3D Warehouse.
  4. Creo –Next level up from sketchup. Moderately easy to use 3D design app that is well supported.
  5. – look for the app
  6. – lots of projects