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Speed Reading Activity for a Whole Class

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by Jana Moore & Dan Ferreira | 23 Jan 2014
Resource Description: Have you ever wanted to get your students to do some speed reading as a group activity?  If you have ever tried to do that with a timer and a paper-based text, you would quickly realize that some students have different reading speeds than others.  The challenge for teachers is figure out a way to train the "slower" students to work on the skill of reading text in chunks and to push forward until the end of the text in a particular time frame.  Here is an activity that uses some freely available tools on the Internet where we can easily prepare materials to teach speed reading to any level of class.
Audience: Elementary
Audience Language Proficiency: Beginner
Duration: 10 minutes
Materials and Technology: Overhead projection, drop screen, PC/Tablet, Internet connection, and slide presentation software.
Objective(s): We have used this as speed reading activity with our first-year university students at a women's college in Yokohama, Japan. After activating schema on particular topic, in this case animals, we present a text of 300 words from an overhead projector onto a drop-screen from a computer that uses a free online software called Eyercize (http://www.eyercize.com/). We follow up on reading comprehension by asking multiple choice and/or true or false questions.
Outcome(s):
  • Students will be challenged to read a simple text at particular speed.
  • Student will feel a sense of accomplishment from having read a text of about 300 words. 
  • Students will appreciate the need to develop their reading speed based on understanding text in chunks.
Activity Description: Prep before class (20 minutes…selecting reading materials from the Internet to use on Eyercize and creating five reading comprehension questions)

  1. Prepare some schema activity questions on animals in the United States. 
  2. For low level students in EFL for example, National Geographic Kids (http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/) has reading materials on animals. The facts about Bald Eagles page is a good example to use for speed reading.  
  3. After pasting the "Facts about Bald Eagles" text into the Eyercize template (http://www.eyercize.com/practice/paste_read), set the "Words per minute"; "Word per Fixations"; "Fixations Points"; "Font Size"; "Space in between lines" and "Lines showing" according desired specifications. 
  4. After the "playing" the text for the students to read. Project the five questions from slide presentation like "Google Presentation" in Google Drive. 
  5. Review the answers with the class referring to the text when necessary. 

Changes: 

The teacher can adjust Eyercize parameters to either increase or decrease the speed and amount of chunking depending on the needs of the class in subsequent lessons.
TESOL Interest Section: Computer-Assisted Language Learning, English as a Foreign Language