Skimming is sometimes called ‘speed reading’. It is a reading technique that is useful when you want to look at a text to get a general idea of what it is about, but since you will be reading at a speed which is three or four times faster than close reading, it is not a technique that will allow you to understand the text and is therefore not appropriate to all situations.
Skimming can help you to read more quickly, and decide if the text is interesting or useful and whether you should read it in more detail.
How to skim read.
When you use the skimming technique you don’t read the whole text word for word. You do use as many clues as possible to give you some background information. This might include pictures or images related to the topic, or an eye-catching title. Let your eyes skim over the surface of the text and look out for key words while thinking about any clues you’ve found about the subject. Sometimes the writer introduces the paragraph in the first line and you can skim just the first line of each paragraph to get an idea of what the text is about as a whole.
• Read the title, subtitles and subheadings to find out what the text is about.
• Look at the illustrations to give you more information about the topic.
• Read the first and last sentence of each paragraph.
• Don’t read every word or every sentence. Let your eyes skim over the text and look out for key words.
• Continue to think about the meaning of the text.
How skimming is different to scanning.
The term skimming is often confused with scanning.
• You skim a text to obtain the gist - the overall sense - of a piece of writing. This can help you decide whether to read it more slowly and in more detail.
• You scan a text to obtain specific information. For example, to find a particular number in a telephone directory.
Sometimes you can use both reading methods. For example your teacher might ask you to skim a piece of text and tell him/her what today’s lesson is going to be about. After you’ve skimmed a piece of text to decide what your lesson might be about, you might then use scanning techniques to find more specific information such as key words (which are often written
in bold type in text books).
Earn house points for skimming this fortnight. Simply write your name, house and lesson (subject and teacher) in which you used the skimming technique on a slip of paper and drop it in the literacy/numeracy post box in reception.