UNRAVEL Reading Strategy
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UNRAVEL Reading Strategy Introduction: Good readers interact with a text as they read. This means that they pause to think about the significance of the text features, unfamiliar words, key conflicts, matter-of-fact statements, definitions, etc. Good readers also stay constantly inquisitive, meaning that they question the circumstances, make predictions, and draw conclusions based off of evidence (otherwise known as making inferences). In short, good readers realize that the information that is passing through their minds will likely need to be retrieved in order to answer questions or perform key tasks at a later time. One way to make this information easier to retrieve is to use an acronym to help provide an easy-to-remember, step-by-step method of analyzing a text. One such method is commonly known as UNRAVEL, and this strategy will help you unravel the important parts of whatever you choose to read.
Underline the title. Make notes around the title. What do you already know about the topics featured in the title? What do you predict will likely be in the text? What is most likely the purpose of what you’re about to read? Texts with simple titles such as “Icebergs” and “Tidal Waves” are likely informative, simply providing information about that particular topic. However, texts with titles such as “Do Aliens Exist?” or Bill Cosby’s “Going to the Dentist” might be persuasive or entertaining.
Number the paragraphs (or lines, whichever makes more sense). As a prereading strategy, numbering paragraphs (or lines if not already numbered) makes it easier later whenever you want to go back and find specific information, especially when answering test questions. This can also help you with parenthetical citations if page numbers are not available.
Read the questions first. If questions follow whatever you’re reading, then another good prereading strategy is to read the questions first. This will help provide a focus for you whenever you begin reading. Note: If questions do not follow the text, then a good postreading strategy is to create leveled questions for what you’ve read. This strategy forces you to go back and consider the text from different perspectives.
Are you circling the important words? Circle the important words within the questions and be sure that you fully understand each question. Make notes as needed. Then, scan the text for significant words. Look for text features: headings and subheadings, graphs, maps, emphasized words (often in bold print or underlined), pictures and captions, etc. Just as you did with the title, use these words to make inferences and to provide a better focus as you read.
Venture through the text. Read the text, but be sure to interact with it. Mark it up. Place question marks by things you don’t understand or want to know more about, and place exclamation marks by things that surprised you or by predictions that have been validated. Underline or highlight answers to questions, important words, dates, matter-of-fact phrases, etc.
Eliminate choices that make no sense. Multiple-choice tests are usually designed with one or two choices that are considered distracters, meaning that they will distract you from the correct answer if you did not read carefully. Mark out these distracters and then consider carefully the choices that are left.
Let yourself answer the question, but only do so after you have carefully considered all questions, have eliminated the distracters, and then have gone back into the text to find evidence that supports the choice that you believe is the best. Occasionally, you might encounter questions for which there does not seem to be a correct choice available. On such occasions, remember that the creator of the test is not necessarily challenging you to find the one accurate answer. Instead, the challenge is to find the best answer among the available choices.
Example PEEC for “Area 51” The government might not acknowledge or deny an area that it uses because it does not want to leak important national secrets to enemy nations or terrorist organizations. In a time of satellites, Google Maps, and ever-diminishing privacy, any government naturally craves restricted and hidden land in order to conduct military operations and experiments designed to produce the latest technology. Area 51, a secretive military base on a remote patch of Nevada land, is a good example of this much-needed real estate: “Lockheed Corporation, a leading aerospace company, had been developing many secret aircraft since World War II, some of which has been tested at this military base” (“Area 51” para. 1). Although the government is willing to cooperate with the Lockheed corporation, it can’t afford to disclose the details of this base to the public: “The base is not visible because it is surrounded by mountains[,] does not appear on public government maps[, and is] permanently offlimits to all traffic and heavily guarded” (para. 2). This evidence suggests that the operations at the base are important to national security. Therefore, the reason that the government will not acknowledge or deny its existence is that it needs to look out for the safety of its citizens. If too many people are savvy concerning the details of this base, then (in an age where information travels at the speed of fingers on a computer keyboard) other nations or terrorist organizations might obtain the particulars of the technology that is likely being developed within such bases. The consequence could be that the government is no longer one step ahead of its enemies, thus making its citizens subject to attacks.