I love what people write. I subscribe to newspapers, magazines and even research sites. I’ve enjoyed 3 books in the last month already. But like many boys, I don’t like reading. I find reading a primitive, energy-zapping activity. Having to fix my eyes for long periods of time at the same distance, having to process the shapes of words and spelling into concepts and ideas.
I am thankful for the progress we have made beyond this primitive state and use text-to-speech on laptop, iPad, and phone. I download audiobooks, and in the case the audiobook is not available, I have Siri (quality voice downloaded) “Read the screen” to me in the Kindle app, where she very kindly turns the pages and reads the whole book to me. This way my eyes and brain can relax and I can truely imagine the ideas, imagery and concepts that were written. I can also make notes much more easily as I’n not shifting my eyes from one page to another.
3 become 1
In school, being told 5 times a day that I had to “read through these 3 pages” (standard quantity for an average lesson) was enough to put me off the whole lesson plan. 3 pages sounds like too much information to a busy student with 4 other lessons that day. For this reason, as a teacher I have spent the last few years always presenting about 3 pages of info on a single page. The psychological impact of being able to say to students “today, we only have one page to look at” makes a big difference in the immediate engagement by all the non-readers in the room.
Where do people like to read?
It’s not just a matter of page numbers. There are other psychological tricks teachers can use to make the same amount of reading seem approachable. To do this we have to consider where the general public do most of their reading. Facebook, newspapers, and magazines. These 3 popular reading realms utilise 4 tricks to help us approach masses of info:
- Columns (it feels good to finish a line quickly)
- Chunks (Facebook breaks the screen into blocks)
- Reverse contrast (It is easier on the eye to not look at white)
- Keep article to one page if possible.
In this short video (below) I demo the transformation of something I would not like to read into a more approachable classroom resource and if kept digital, something that can be tailored to suit the individual. If teachers do a bit more work with presentation, the students will pick up on this and improve their own work’s presentation too.