Active Reading in Biology
Today, you will be working with one other person. You can choose your partner. The other option is to work on your own. Each person should turn this in at the end of the class period.
Some of you may be finding that reading in Biology is not an easy task. The purpose of today’s activity is to provide you with strategies to make your reading more effective. You may already use some of these strategies. You need to try each of these today and reflect on which seems to help you the most.

Step 1:
Turn to page 201 in your text, Section 7.4 Cellular Transport. (Using the book online is okay, but please hide all other open applications.)
Step 2:
Please follow the instructions for each of these strategies. I’ve outline sections in the reading that you should use for each strategy.
  1. Before you start, ask yourself pre-reading questions. For instance: What is the topic, and what do you already know about it? Write your question here.
  2. Read the text on page 201. Summarize those paragraphs on Diffusion in two sentences or less below.
  3. Read the first two paragraphs on pg 202. First, define any unfamiliar terms from these paragraphs in your own words.
  4. Read the next two paragraphs on pg 202, “Diffusion across the plasma membrane.” Write your own exam question based on the reading in those paragraphs.
  5. Read about Osmosis on pg 203. What is the main idea of the section?
  6. Have you noticed any ways your textbook is trying help you with understanding in the reading so far? What are those? Are you using them?
  7. Read the mini-Lab 7.2 on pg 203. Ask yourself, what does this remind you of that we did in class? Did we observe osmosis in our Cell Lab?
  8. Read about isotonic, hypotonic and hypertonic solutions on page 204-205. Make a flow chart, diagram, or graphic organizer that helps you visually to map and understand those ideas.
  9. Read about Active Transport on page 205. Draw or write an analogy that helps you with this idea.
  10. Read about Na+/K+ ATPase pump and watch the animation online (link from Cellular Transport page on wiki). This is probably the hardest idea to understand so far. Write 2 questions you have about this section. Answer the questions using the animation and other resources.
  11. Read about Transport of Large Particles on pg 207. Teach what you have learned to someone else! This is one of the most effective ways to learn. If you try to explain aloud what you have been studying: 1) you’ll transfer the information from short-term to long-term memory and 2) you’ll really know what you understand and what you don’t.
  12. Read the Section summary on pg 207. Are there concepts there that you need to review? If so, go back to the reading to find them and re-read.
  13. Reflect back to these strategies on Active Reading. Which did you think was most effective for you? Which would you use most often in the future?
I’m attaching a list of strategies for you here. Some apply better to reading in science than others. These came from Princeton’s Resources for Learning1.
Active Reading Strategies
Choose the strategies that work best for you or that best suit your purpose. You do not need to use them all every time you read.
  • Ask yourself pre-reading questions.
    • For instance: What is the topic, and what do you already know about it?
  • Define any unfamiliar terms.
  • Bracket the main idea of the reading, and put an asterisk next to it.
    • You will read the introduction or first paragraph carefully to find this information.
  • Put down your highlighter. Make margin notes or comments.
    • Every time you feel the urge to highlight something, write instead. You can summarize the text, ask questions, give assent, protest vehemently. Have a dialogue with the author. You can also write down key words to help you recall where important points are discussed.
  • Write questions in the margins. Answer the questions in a reading journal or on a separate piece of paper.
    • If it is a textbook, try changing all the titles, subtitles, sections and paragraph headings into questions. For example, the section heading “The Gas Laws of Boyle, Charles, and Avogadro” might become “What are the gas laws of Boyle, Charles, and Avogadro?
  • Make outlines, flow charts, or diagrams that help you visually to map and understand ideas.
  • Read each paragraph carefully and then determine “what it says” and “what it does.” Write your comments in the margin.
    • Answer “what it says” in only one sentence. Represent the main idea of the paragraph in your own words. To answer “what it does,” describe the paragraph’s purpose within the text: for example, “provides evidence for the author’s first main reason” or “summarizes an opposing view.”
  • Write your own exam question based on the reading.
  • Teach what you have learned to someone else!
    • This is one of the most effective ways to learn. If you try to explain aloud what you have been studying: 1) you’ll transfer the information from short-term to long-term memory and 2) you’ll really know what you understand and what you don’t.
1 (http://web.princeton.edu/sites/mcgraw/active_reading_strategies.html)