Using anticipatory questions before a student reads helps students to think about issues, themes, or ideas that they will come upon in the reading. The questions are not based upon the actual reading but may relate to modern day. Summarizing aloud after reading a difficult part of a story is also helpful to check for student understanding. Lastly, SQ3R is helpful for reading textbooks. It stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review.
I believe that active reading is the most important aspect of reading. Readers who engage in the text and become a part of the text tend to gain more insight into the piece. Readers who are actively engage gain a deeper understanding of the themes, motifs, and morals of a text than those who simply read to complete an assignment.
When I was in grade school, we used a system called SRI or SRA (can't remember which, although I think it was the former). Passages to read were in little boxes and were color-coded. I can't remember much about the experience but that it was self-paced and HIGHLY enjoyable. It is an aspect of my education that I remember with great pleasure, even though I can't recall the details. I wonder if this system is still being used widely today. Other people who have used it have spoken to me about it with an enthusiasm that matches my own.
I must agree with the above points. The more you mark things up, the better you get to know a text. I almost never read something without marking it up. Annotating a text is an excellent strategy. Part of the reason for this is that readers are now active. Second, reading aloud helps at time as well. To use another sense (hearing) gets the words into a person's mind better. Moreover, if a person learns better by hearing, then this would be great.
I also am a fan of annotation, as well as actually taking notes on a separate sheet of paper while I read. One caveat: I often see students simply going through texts underlining things without actually thinking about what they mean. I find myself doing the same thing every once in a while. In any case, though, I think annotation is key to effective reading.
Our school started using what we call a "Reading with a Pen Palette". There are twenty activities that students use to take notes in the margins when reading an article. With each symbol or icon that they can draw next to a sentence, they also have to explain why they chose that icon. For example, a smiley face is placed next to a phrase that made them laugh and a question mark is placed next to one that they didn't understand. Through this activity, teachers can assess what interested students as well as what seemed difficult to them. It's also a good way to start discussions about topics with the class as a whole or in small groups. They can compare and contrast where they put the icons or debate about what they chose and defend why.
I am a big fan of annotating a text. I work in a school where students buy their own novels and I teach students to write in their novels as they read. I will give them suggestions (or requirements) as what kinds of things to take note of, but I usually direct them underline and make a note about characterizations, theme statements, symbolism or other literary devices, vocabulary and definitions, and anything else that may be especially relevant to the particular work.
reading with the intention to understand and not for entertainment & to learn vocab etc