Reading across texts: perceptions and performance of early adolescent readers
Learning Media have introduced an anthology series that draws on writing previously published in the School Journals with the addition, lately, of commissioned work. The series is designed to meet the new curriculum objectives for English, social studies and science with less practised readers. A title in the series will typically contain narratives as well as personal accounts by experts, loosely related to a theme in the social studies or science curriculum. A survey of how the titles were being used indicated that teachers were treating the contents of the anthologies as single texts and that the advantages of reading across texts related to a theme were not being realised. A study was therefore conducted with an intermediate school class in order to establish an activity cycle that would exploit the potential of anthologies as a resource for reading-to-write from multiple sources. The experience gained from the study suggests that the cycle should contain instruction on transforming sources and this skill needs to be practised within the framework of a discourse synthesis task. In the study, the task appeared to be the driving force that determined what was read, what information was selected, the student's stance towards the information, and what guided the monitoring process. Reading proficiency did not appear to make a substantial difference to the way the task was interpreted nor in the way the task was accomplished tactically, suggesting that discourse synthesis is an issue of experience with the component skills.