What Are Zinc Skills? 

To be a good reader, you need to think about what you read. Zinc Skills are the essential skills every strong reader uses. Master them, and there’ll be no stopping your students.

  • Inferences: Sometimes authors don’t tell you everything directly– they expect you to infer, which means to draw smart conclusions based on evidence in the text as you read. Infer as you go to get the whole picture.
  • Details: Details are all the facts, pieces of evidence, and descriptions that you come across as you read. Read closely to understand what’s going on, and go back to hunt for details to answer questions.
  • Big Picture: Big picture  is what the article, or a large section of it, is all about. It’s the main point, or author’s overall point of view. It’s also the big ideas you need to know to understand the text.
  • Developing Ideas and Relationships: Over the course of an article, story, or poem, different ideas can develop. A character may change their belief about something, or a theme might emerge based on a few connected events. Relationships between characters can also develop. 
  • Sequence: Sequence is the order of events in an article, story, or poem. 
  • Words in Context: As you read, you’ll need to figure out what specific words or phrases mean in the context of a paragraph or larger chunk of text. Just looking at the words in the dictionary won’t work. You’ll need to use context clues to see what the words mean in that particular situation. 
  • Structure: Structure refers to how different sentences and paragraphs function within a text. 
  • Tone: Tone is the attitude or emotion in writing: sassy, exuberant, cold, confused, or dejected. Be on the lookout for irony, in particular. Irony is about opposites: you say, “What a beautiful day!” on a gross one. 
  • Point of View: An author can express his or her point of view in an article by stating an opinion, making an argument, or showing a certain attitude toward a subject. When readers understand the author’s point of view, they gain a deeper insight into a text. 
  • Data Analysis and Multimedia: Data Analysis and Multimedia is when you read charts, graphs, and illustrations, and even watch videos to understand an author’s argument and draw conclusions.
  • Arguments: An argument is a set of reasons given to persuade others that a particular idea is right. Arguments have a claim, supporting evidence, and an underlying assumption. You’ll also see counter-arguments and attacks. Master argument structure, and see how easy reading becomes. 
  • Comparing Texts: When two or three texts are paired together, readers look for what those texts have in common (e.g., a similar subject matter, genre, or audience) and what makes them different from each other (e.g., point of view, argument, time period). 
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