As we all move toward Common Core, there is more emphasis, in all content areas, on informational text and non-fiction reading.
The problem is, many students are not experienced with this type of reading, and struggle with strategies to use to help them pull meaning from the text. Students are better at reading fiction, but need a different skill set to pull out key facts from non-fiction, or even science or social studies texts.
In the ELA Common Core Standards are many references in to reading and writing informational text, writing and following procedures, drawing conclusions, supporting with evidence, etc. One area that I think we struggle as teachers, and may not reach our full common core potential is in terms of reading strategies. (CCCS on reading informational text (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI). We expect kids to be able to read, or we find alternative ways around it, such as notes, hands-on, demos, videos. We do need to teach reading strategies, even though we are not reading teachers.
This is something that I work on a lot in my classroom because the district I work in historically has students with very low reading levels. Along with this, I have always taught courses ending in a state exam, where the reading level is at or slightly above grade level. This is not a good combination. Reading level is the biggest predictor of how they do on the exam. (a topic for another day).
Anyway, one strategy I use for reading out of a textbook is this freebie available at my store. It is really a scaffold to teach a good strategy for reading a textbook. It includes what to do before reading the chapter (previewing), what to do during (vocabulary, looking at text features, recording new information and connecting it to what is already known) and after (questions you still have and reflection on what you learned).
It is in a format that kids can readily fill in and understand. This has been very popular with our ELL and SPED teachers and students, and used for students in grades 7-10 with very good results. If you use it, let me know what you think in the comments. If you have suggestions or other strategies you use, let me know that too!