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The SINELG method: how to encourage active reading in children

26 July, 2022

SINELG is a very useful tool as it allows the learner to monitor their comprehension level as they read a particular text. 

It can happen to every reader that he or she can go through a whole page and not remember anything of its content, especially if the attention was disturbed while reading.  

The SINELG method is a method of monitoring reading comprehension (Vaughan and Estes, 1986) and is an active reading strategy that aims to keep students engaged while reading a text.

Students often approach reading superficially, without much engagement, and even more so with topics that are of little interest to them. Understanding the phenomenon is an important step in the learning process, but learning opportunities are lost if the reader is not actively engaged in understanding the text. This is where the SINELG method comes in, a technique of interrogative/analytical reading of a text.

How to apply SINELG method

This method promotes active involvement and monitoring of one's understanding and involves the following steps: 

1. Before starting to read the text, ask the student to write down everything they know about the topic/issue, whether it is correct or not. 

The I know/ I want to know/ I have learned method can be used here. Each pupil can create their table with the 3 sentences and write down the key elements of the topic under discussion.

I know I want to know I learned

2. Start reading! Ask students to read the text carefully and write down in the margin (or in a table) signs with the following meanings:

"√" - for known information, for passages that confirm what they already know; 

 "+" - for new, unknown, and acceptable information they have learned; 

"-" - for information that contradicts what they knew; 

"?" - for information that needs to be documented, because the passages in question are unclear, confusing, or raise questions. 






3. Build teams and prompt reflection based on what has been read and noted. This step supports collaboration and communication between students and may even help resolve any misunderstandings identified in the reading.

4. If team-level misunderstandings arise, try to find solutions together. 

5. Make an inventory of ideas and encourage students to present them to all their colleagues.

For example, from the simple sentence "The student is reading" you can stagger all the question marks: What? How much? How? What for? etc. How the pupil reads seems to have a particular impact on the formation of personality, especially if it is a question of reading scientific text.

The pencil in hand and a system of signs, applied to the text for understanding/remembering information, must be examined with the personality of the reader and the formation of intellectual work skills, inseparable from instruction. In this sense, SINELG is a basic, easily assimilated technique with variants for different disciplines and ages. 

The Interactive Scoring System for Effective Reading and Thinking (SINELG) is a strategy that has proven effective in helping students maintain attention while reading text. 

SINELG advantages

We can speak of a wide range of advantages of the SINELG method, such as:

  • active involvement of pupils in the act of learning;
  • updating knowledge that pupils have already learned;
  • the achievement of deep, conscious reading;
  • training and development of reflective capacity;
  • developing the ability to transfer and reorganize knowledge;
  • understanding the text read;
  • monitoring the level of comprehension during the reading of the text;
  • stimulating communication and collaboration in the whole group.

Limitations of the SINELG method

Of course, any learning method has its limitations, and in the case of the SINELG method we can identify:

  • Lack of concentration on the part of learners can lead to failure of the method;
  • the emergence of ambiguities, and confusion.
  • Regardless of the method used in the classroom, it is very important to train and motivate the children to take the initiative to actively engage in the tasks, both during the school year and during the holidays. Education never goes on holiday! 

Active reading - a neurological perspective

Data from recent years show that many students struggle with reading. They mistakenly believe that they read effectively. They engage in what researchers call involuntary reading or mindless reading (Schooler, Reichle, & Halpern, 2004) because they are staring blankly at the printed page of the book. The opposite of involuntary reading activity is the processing of text using various cognitive active reading strategies, such as the SINELG method. 

These strategies are described in a fascinating qualitative study that asked expert readers to think aloud about what was going on in their minds as they read. Long-winded scripts that record these spoken thoughts (e.g., think-aloud) are called verbal protocols (Pressley & Afflerbach, 1995). These protocols have been categorized and analyzed by researchers to answer specific questions, such as: what is the influence of prior knowledge on readers' strategies when focusing on the main idea of a text (Afflerbach, 1990) Researchers have concluded that reading is "constructively receptive-that is, readers are always changing their strategies in response to the text they read" (Pressley & Afflerbach, 1995, p. 2). 

Other active reading techniques and strategies 

Over time, there has been a real gulf between "knowing how to read" and "knowing how to explore what you read"/"understanding what you read". . Thus, among very many children there is an inability to deepen their reading of the written text, poor skills in using rational and effective reading techniques. 

Active reading means, in short, reading something with the determination to understand and deepen the text.  It is also the ability to assess the relevance of the content to one's own needs and interests.

Several attention-focusing aids are used in the learning process, such as underlining main ideas in different colors, marking keywords in the margin of the text, etc. Although their usefulness has been demonstrated, supporting aids need sound strategies for active reading. 

Here are some other strategies for active reading:

SQ3R technique

SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Recall, Review) Is good for both reviewing and reading something for the first time. "SQ3R" stands for the five steps involved.

  • Survey. Before you begin a new chapter, skim the material and get a feel for the main topics and ideas in the text.
  • Question. Use questions to guide your reading. Ask yourself questions; Depending on your goal (for example, to solve a task), ask yourself how it helps you. Also ask questions: who? What? Where? When? How?
  • Read the text again, in a focused and fairly quick way.
  • Remember; test your memory - don't worry if you can't remember too many details.
  • Review; Read the text taking notes. Use your own words.

Question cube

Question cubes create a game-like atmosphere and will increase the attention and engagement of all learners, especially those with predominantly tactile or visual learning styles.

How to make a question cube:

  • A cube is made from milk cartons
  • Cut the tops off both cartons and insert one, bottom side up, into the other, creating a closed cube.
  • Cover the cube with plain or colored paper.
  • On each side, write a question: What? When? Where? Who? Why? How?

Suggestions for application:

  • Invite students to ask questions related to whatever content they are currently studying.
  • Students will practice formulating questions to understand different concepts, with different levels of complexity.
  • You can invite students to work in teams while reading different new content.

Blazon technique

Using the Blazon technique, the pupil writes down during the reading information about the author, title, publisher, year of publication, place of publication, number of pages, reading notes (quotations, important/preferred excerpts), and own comments at the end of the reading, questions that have arisen about the book read, a short presentation of favorite characters (physical/moral portrait), critical references about the book/work (indicating authors), a free page to record the opinions of peers or the teacher about the book.

PRES method

The PRES method helps students to express their opinion on the issue addressed in a reading text and develops their ability to argue and understand the con

in content. The procedure involves the following four steps, which are explained beforehand and written down on the board or poster:

P - Expressing the point of view;

R - Presenting reasoning (judgment) for the point of view;

E - Presenting an example to clarify the point of view;

S - Summarise your point of view.

"Reading is like skiing, and when done well, both reading and skiing are graceful, harmonious."
Adler, 2014

Here's a series of articles where the Kinderpedia team recommends books for different ages and needs. You can get inspired and select readings that you can even practice the SINELG method on:

If you're curious find out  How do we encourage reading - 5 ideas for parents


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