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Ohio Partnership for Excellence in Paraprofessional Preparation

Content: Helping a Child Learn from a Textbook


The purpose of this activity is to learn how to help students get the most out of their interactions with their math textbooks. This activity is most effective when you complete it after you have reviewed everything else in the unit.


  1. Interview a students on how they currently read math textbooks. Ask questions like the following:
  2. Do you like your math textbook? Why or why not?
  3. Are there any differences between how you read your math textbook and how you read other books? If so, what are they?
  4. About how much time, on average, do you spend reading a single section in your math textbook?
  5. Do you focus equally on all parts of the book? If not, which parts do you focus on more?
  6. What do you do while you’re reading the math textbook (for example, take notes, work out problems, write down questions, just read)?
  7. How much of the math that you learn comes from reading the textbook?
  8. How do you feel when reading the math textbook?

If these questions seem too complicated for the student, perhaps choose just one or two of the simplest (e.g., question 1 or 7).

After getting an idea about how the student currently reads the math textbook, use the information you’ve learned in this unit to suggest strategies that the student might find helpful.  


  1. If the student claims to read the math texbook just like any other book,you might suggest that the student try working out problems and writing down  notes as he goes.
  2. Have the student read a paragraph to you and check in on their understanding.
  3. Find out your students’ reading level and ensure they have content they can read at their level.
Reflect on the activity. TAKE NOTES
  1. Did the student’s way of reading a math textbook differ from your own approach? If so, how?
  2. Based on your short interaction with the student, would you say that he or she is an active reader of the math textbook? If not, what specific things would help the student become a more active reader?
  3. Did you learn any helpful strategies from the student? (By talking with several students, you can often pick up a handful of creative and useful strategies!)

Module: Helping Students Do Math

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