How to Read MATHEWS Way

IMG_3081How to Read MATHEWS Way

  1. Move finger across lines while reading
  2. Activate attention span for understanding
  3. Think relatable personal experience
  4. Harness reasoning with “W” questions
  5. Expand vocabulary through defining words
  6. Withdraw reading to reflect on meaning
  7. Simplify reading one chapter at a time–daily.

Curriculum and Instruction: Reading Mathews Way.

According to United States Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, approximately 32 million adults in the United State cannot read, and those that can read on an eight-grade level.

In schools, research reports 3.54 percent of all students do not get enough of daily reading practice, reading a mere 30 minutes per day; to improve in reading comprehension, a student needs to read overall two hour a day for practice fluency.

Additionally, struggling readers need high quality instruction and intensive support in order to learn important reading skills. School data suggest a student needs to practice applying reading skills. To help a student practice, Dr. Cynthia Mathews generated a reading strategy based on the acronym M.A.T.H.E.W.S. The student can test his understanding of reading by following Mathews’s reading strategy. See below:

Move finger across lines while reading. Until the student becomes a proficient reader, the teacher should instruct the student to point his finger on the lines of reading so that he will remain with the text without inadvertently jumping from one line to another. Encourage student to read aloud words and to repeat words that he stumbles upon until he pronounces the words correctly. If student struggles with pronunciation, instruct him to access to listen to how words are pronounced and for him to say aloud the word-sounds. Instruct student to continue reading, pointing his finger under the reading lines; ask him to be patient with himself, explaining to him that good reading takes time and that using his finger across the words will help him connect to the passage and will help him understand it better.

Activate attention span when reading about new ideas. While reading may be easy to understand when a student is familiar with the topic, reading becomes challenging for the student when he is not familiar with the topic. In this case, the student must pay complete attention to his reading style. He must force himself to focus on every line, pointing his finger, articulating as best he can. If the student realizes that his mind is wandering, instruct him to force himself into paying attention by saying to himself, “Stop! Now, refocus.” He should continue in this manner for as long as he can concentrate. The student making himself focus can be a difficult skill to learn. Therefore, continue to motivate the student to read by applying the MATHEWS reading technique of activating one’s attention to focus.

Think relatable, personal experiences. As the student reads, ask him to think of times that he remembers a similar situation. If he has no personal experience, ask the student if he knows of someone else who may have experienced the journey of the character he is reading about. If the student cannot relate on any level about what he is reading, ask him to think about the reading’s scenario and to reread the passage to help himself remember and to understand better.

Harness reasoning with “W” and “H” questions. Another method to help a student read reliably or understandably is to instruct him to ask questions about the passage: “Why did the boy follow the fox”? “What kind of person would obey a fox?” “What are traits of a fox?” “How may I learn more about foxes?” “Am I as brave as the boy in the story?” Questions bring about other questions, and more questions answered bring about understanding. Instruct the student to seek ways to locate information to answer questions he may have. The students may use a dictionary or Google for answers. The idea is to motivate the student to ask the right questions that will lead him to the right answers for enhanced reading comprehension.

Expand vocabulary. Vocabulary should be taught in isolation and in context. For maximum understanding, the teacher should instruct the student to preview the text before reading to spot unfamiliar terms and to define the terms. Or, the teacher, herself, may peruse the reading passage to extract vocabulary for student-learning. The teacher should provide a list of the words for the student to define. The student should study the meaning and spelling and pronunciation of each word. He should use or any other word source that would allow him to hear the word, to define the word, and to make sense of the word. After the student has met sufficient time to study the words, he should begin the process of reading as instructed. Learning vocabulary is critical to a student’s comprehension and should be instructed of the student in various ways, allowing him to practice learning of words directly or learning of words through context clues. Yet, a struggling reader may find reading difficult by applying context clues. Therefore, the student’s recognizing, defining, articulating, and spelling of words might be a better learning approach for him until he becomes a fluent reader and is able to understand how to apply the skill of context clues.

Withdraw reading to reflect on meaning. With all good works, a break in work must accompany it. After a student reads a full paragraph, he should withdraw from the passage to think about what he has read. He should withdraw to focus metacognition (thinking about his thinking) and to ask himself questions about what he has read; pointedly, he must withdraw (look away) from the passage until he can feel the learning taking place in the schema of his comprehension. After the student withdraws a few minutes from the passage, he should proceed with the reading, generating understanding of what he is learning.

Simplify reading one chapter daily. If a book has more than 200 pages, instruct the student to read one chapter a day. If the chapters are long in pages, instruct the student to divide the chapter’s pages by three. He should read a certain number of pages in the morning, again in the afternoon, and again in the evening. Yet, as instructor, aim to motivate the student to read one chapter daily regardless of the length of pages, reminding him to follow the MATHEWS reading strategy. The student should be able to finish reading a novella (book under 150 pages) within two weeks and a novel (book with 150 pages or more) within a month if he continues the practice of simplifying his reading by reading only one chapter daily.

Research argues that reading can be difficult for a student because of semantics: sentence structure, vocabulary, and the student’s prior knowledge of events. Yet, one of the best ways to help a student learn is to apply the MATHEWS technique. The teacher or coach or knowledgeable parent should be present with the student when he attempts to read. With continuous dedication to reading, the student will begin reading fluently before he can ask himself, “How did I learn to read so quickly?” It was easy. He followed the MATHEWS-method. 

Cynthia Mathews, Ed.D.

Curriculum and Instruction Consultant

Educational Leadership Consultant

Professional Development Presenter


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Published by cynthiamathews

I'm an innovative spirit, one who seeks new and practical ways to learn about life. I enjoy exploring innovative styles to motivate people to persevere in a challenging world. Having a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Curriculum & Instruction, I am inspired to maintain a life long learning experience that will allow me to share my knowledge with others. My expertise includes detecting apathy in individuals and prescribing ways to motivate them to be their best. To initiate this endeavor, I create and conduct personal and professional development programs. I write briefs and pamphlets and instructional guides to inspire, and I speak--upon request--to those who need a reminder of their inner excellence. My blog's main focus is to document my research on motivation and curriculum instruction and to share with subscribers the understanding, the ideas, and the strategies that result from my research. I am a native of Alabama, a teacher, and an author. I look forward to learning with you.

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