As the Grade 11 students are reading books of choice for the most part this year, I’ve been working to incorporate types of texts outside of novels into our reading. This has taken the form of long form journalism pieces, op-eds, short stories or anything else. Part of what we’re working toward is endurance in reading. Part of what we’re working toward is reading as a social experience.
I’ve known about the Think Aloud as a reading strategy for a few years. I’ve tried to stay away from it for the sheer boredom of it. It doesn’t ask much of my strongest readers and can feel as though I’m patronizing those students reading at lower levels.
I decided to take my voice out of it. Here’s how it worked:
- I posted the link to this article on moodle along with four questions:
- What is the purpose of this article?
- What is the evidence the author uses to support his claims?
- What do you think the future of paper as a medium for transmitting writing is?
- How does this article shape your understanding of the world?
- Students had time in class to begin reading and thinking. What they didn’t finish became homework.
- When they entered class the next day, I handed them printed copies of the piece with the notes that came to mind as I was reading.
- The students had approximately 7 minutes to mark up the text with any thinking they had and wanted to add to my notes.
- We gathered in a circle where I set ground rules such as, “If we get off topic, ask a question,” “Tie it to the text,” and “Challenge thoughts you don’t understand or agree with.”
- Conversation began with each speaker calling on the next.
What happened was a great reminder of the kind of conversation our students are capable of. It’s what they were hoping for when we went to the Town Hall Meeting. At one point, it occurred to me we could benefit from adding our school librarian’s voice to the mix. I called and invited him.
Matt, a grad student completing some observations in our class, commented afterward on how the students had kept the conversation moving even when I was on the phone. I’m hoping it’s because they owned the conversation and I didn’t. In fact, the rules within discussion are that I too must raise my hand and wait to be called on when I want to contribute.
That was classy. What do you think?