Reading Comprehension Questions

Yesterday I wrote that my students have trouble reading their textbooks.  Today I started wondering how my screencasts fit into this.  My screencasts so far are often a retelling of some part of the textbook.  If I could say “read Ch. 13-4 for tomorrow and write down your questions,” screencasts would not be necessary.  Are my screencasts a lost opportunity for reading practice?

Another thing: can text-comprehension strategies also help with math comprehension?  What would happen if I taught students to read math the same way they read a sentence?  Could I help them stop assuming that “y = 2x” means “2x causes y”?   I mean, obviously, lots of times when they see this, x does cause y.  But that’s not what the equal sign means, and they end up imputing an incorrect meaning to the left/right positions (in fact, their misconception is closer to the programming language meaning of the assignment operator).  This misconception makes them see algebraic manipulation as nonsensical.  After all, if x causes y, how can it possibly also be true that y causes x? (x = y/2)


  1. The ideal situation for me is to have my students read the text and watch the screencasts. I’ve recognized that they will tend to only do the latter, especially if it seems I’m just animating the book for them. What I’ve taken to doing is to say things like “the book is very clear here, you should definitely check that you can follow it from equation X to equation X+Y”. I’ll also just skip doing a screencast on a whole section if I feel the book is clear. The next day in class I try to remember to point out to them that they’re still responsible for that material. Of course I use my question submission system in a similar way. If they don’t ask about it, I don’t cover it again in class.

    • Hi Andy, good point about integrating ideas from the book and screencasts, and including a reminder in the next lecture. Are you still using Google Moderator for question submissions? Are you satisfied with it?

  2. I’ve always wanted to use google moderator but I’ve never actually done it. What I’ve used is a home built web-based summary and question submission system and most recently a texting version of a listserv (

    • Interesting. Hadn’t heard of groupme. Moderator looks quite good; I’ll put it on the experiment list. I’m using a home-grown system too at the moment — made of paper!

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