Being actively engaged with the required texts enables the reader to read, relate, understand and reflect on the content. The benefits of acquiring and using engagement strategies run across all levels of education, ranging from elementary, middle, high school, and college to even adult readers. There are six engagement strategies covered in this chapter: making connections, text coding, double-entry journals, 3-2-1, teachers as readers, and alpha boxes. These strategies, when used appropriately, increase engagement levels, which in turn stimulate a higher understanding of the texts.
When using strategy-making connections, the reader uses past experiences or knowledge to connect to the current reading. For instance, prior knowledge of computer-related vocabulary makes it easier for a student to understand instructions about a new piece of software. This strategy allows the reader to make three types of associations: text-to-self, text-to-self, and text-to-world connection. The text coding strategy entails having the reader highlight texts, take notes, and underline key phrases. This strategy enables readers to remember, think, question, and reflect as they read.
For the double-entry journal strategy, the reader links writing to the reading process by selecting words or phrases they find confusing or most important and writing them down. They write a reflection of the information in the form of their reactions, connections, and inferences. The other strategy is the 3-2-1, where the reader summarizes three main points, finds two interesting parts, and questions one aspect of the text. Teachers as readers (TAR) is another strategy where teachers participate in book clubs. They read a text, reflect on it and discuss it with the other group members. They understand the text from different perspectives and build beneficial relationships with their peers.
The final strategy is the alpha boxes, in which the reader is required to identify a concept or an idea that relates to each letter of the alphabet. Readers, therefore, are challenged to think more profoundly than they normally would if they did not actively engage with the texts they are reading. Each of these strategies is different, but they all create a deeper connection and understanding by encouraging the reader to think deeply beyond what they find on the surface.