Skimming and Scanning

Skimming and scanning are 
Skimming and scanning are two specific speed-reading techniques, which enable you to cover a vast amount of material very rapidly. These techniques are similar in process but different in purpose. 
Skimming and Scanning are two key skills identified in the Programmes of Study for KS2 Reading in the National Curriculum.

Why these skills are important for educators to teach is because they help children to read quickly in a short amount of time. They are not skills that should be used all the time, they are not skills to replace reading for understanding but they are skills that can be useful for finding a specific word or idea. 

What is Skimming?  Skimming tends to be used to read only what is important. You pick up on main ideas but meaning can sometimes be lost due to only reading for the general or main ideas.
What Is Scanning?  When scanning, you look for a word, specific fact or piece of information without reading everything. This tends to be used when you are looking for something specific.

These skills can be taught in the classroom through a variety of ways. They are great skills to have for life, not just for tests in school.

1. Give children a text and a short amount of time. Ask them to skim the text then report back to what it is about.

2. Similarly to above, explain to the children that a word, phrase or punctuation mark is used throughout the text. The child to find out how many times it is used in the quickest amount of time is the winner.
3. Ask children to find a specific word in a wordsearch. Explain how they could scan for the first letter of that word then look around the letter to see if the second letter connects etc

4. Using images such as the one below to spot words can help children scan and pick up on lines etc that are unusual compared to the rest of the picture. This encourages children to look carefully for a specific thing whilst ‘reading’ the picture. As the children get quicker at doing this a timer could be introduced. (Have a go at the one below. How long does it take you to find all 6 words?).

5. Similar to the idea above would be using books such as ‘Where’s Wally?’ This will really encourage children to scan quickly as it is all about training the eye to spot something the mind wants to find! Let your eyes work for you when searching for information and encourage children to use their finger to help focus their gaze.

By teaching children how to skim and scan in fun ways (and by helping them to do so in timed conditions) will ensure that they are are able to retrieve information quickly and have the skills needed to answer questions such as ‘find the word that means….’ or ‘What does the text say so we know that…is feeling…’
For more information on testing, assessment and on how to make English lessons more engaging for children please follow Literacy Consultant @jo_c_gray on Twitter 


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