Teaching Kids How to Think AS They Read
Teach students how to ask questions in a manner that leads to the answer, and you will be teaching them the answer. Anonymous
One of the greatest things we can do for kids is to teach them how to ask questions of themselves as they are reading. The trick is to use the power of modeling. No program or set of materials can do this for you. It is the teacher who models strategies, behaviors, and skills. It is the teacher who demonstrates how to do something, not the program that is sitting on the shelf. Just as effective ski instructors use the power of demonstration to teach their students, teachers and parents must also do the same.
What does this sort of modeling look like? It starts with a willingness to verbalize and share ourown thinking with the kids. For example, we might start them out by saying, “Today, we’re going to think through this book together, and I will be telling you what I’m thinking about as well.” This introduction sets up the thinking and establishes a purpose for the lesson. As the adult reads the text aloud, he or she stops at certain places to think out loud. Here are a few key phrases that might be used to model the process of thinking and questioning a text as it is read:
It is important that the tone of the voice be considered whenever we are modeling our questions aloud for kids. Little puppies and kids are especially gifted in picking up on what we mean simply by the tone in our voice. We can sound genuinely curious or ridiculously bored depending on how we ask the question. Teaching kids to think while reading is a monumental task because it requires that we share our personal thoughts, ideas, confusions, and strategies.
The ultimate goal is to problem solve comprehension skills aloud so that kids will begin to take risks, ask questions inside their heads and in their writing, and justify their answers with evidence from the text. A whole-group 15-minute lesson works well for this type of activity. Watch the results blossom as your kids begin to think when they read and write. Kids, after all, are naturally curious. Let’s hope that we are building on that natural ability so that we can encourage the act of thinking. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if people actually got paid just to think?