In the Advanced Exposition course I'm teaching this term, I give quick reading quizzes on most days. Like quick freewrites, quizzes can jump-start discussions, especially if one or more of the quiz questions provides an intriguing place to begin the conversation. Mostly, I want the quizzes to foster the habits of active reading that I always talk about in classes: commenting in the margins, summing up the gist right after reading, talking back to the text, re-reading tough passages, and even developing "talking points" when you know you're prepping for a class discussion.
Yesterday, a creative, intellectually curious student who I've had in other courses asked me for further tips on how to retain details. She's a language arts education major and wants not only to ace my quizzes but also to know more about close reading for herself and her students. We had a good discussion about our own practices/habits, but I realized afterward that I wish I had a more sophisticated understanding of the teaching of reading. Despite the literacy and education courses I took in graduate school and despite the years I spent teaching "developmental" writing courses (not to mention developmental writing being one of my exam areas back in grad school) which often involves extra attention to reading, I need to learn a lot more.