Teaching online with elementary students has been tricky to get used to. It is easy to slip into a tell and not teach mode. That would lead right back into the worksheet mentality we have worked hard to avoid over the last decade because of research findings.
I do think we can take advantage of these times to really hone our skills when it comes to creating our focus lessons at the beginning of our Readers and Writers workshops. What a golden opportunity to work on think aloud’s. You are recording the lesson to send to students so, why not take time to reflect on it for yourself as well. What a superb opportunities for coaches to work with teachers.
I think we must use this time to learn more about technology but also about our teaching skills. So I implore you to take a moment to watch and reflect on the videos you are posting for your students after they have been posted and students have responded to them. Are you teaching or just telling? Watch the recording with and without sound and see what you notice. Do a quick transcription of the video and reflect on what your spoken words are asking and saying and what you intended. Jim Knight has a neat coaching cycle that would work great for this. It is called “The Impact Cycle.” I encourage you to check it out.
When thinking about the idea for this post I started exploring the think aloud. I have been reading about meditation and listening to podcast on it as well. Some of the techniques used in meditation I feel lend themselves to teaching reading comprehension and thinking aloud for our students. When you meditate you are asked to pay attention to your thoughts, notice them and make mental notes of them and think about the feelings those thoughts brought on. Consider how you wanted to react to those thoughts or did react to them.
I want to use those ideas and transfer them into my reading instruction, specifically do a think-alouds. While we read we have to notice and pay attention to our thoughts before they disappear. We have to consider the tone of the thought and what our initial reaction to the thought was. How do I feel about what I just read? Was my reaction positive or negative? How does it impact my understanding? These thoughts and many others need to be considered. We have to make a mental note of our thoughts and embrace them enough to be able to retrieve them later. We have to keep it in the background as we continue to read. Do not take for granted some of this thinking we do naturally, that our students may not be experiencing. Or they may not be noticing these thoughts enough to be able to retrieve later.
We often skip over the thinking we expect our students to have already processed through. They may have not been noticing their thoughts as they read enough to embrace them and discuss them when we ask them to. We will have to show readers how to do this by thinking aloud. They may be focused on the visual aspect of reading and have not yet become fully aware of how this inner thinking that readers are asked to do works. I think we have to keep it simple. Start by thinking aloud of noticing simple thoughts. I am thinking………. maybe this will be important later, so I need to remember it as I read on.
I know others in the literacy world have been considering aspects of this type of thinking already, but thinking about it in relation to meditation may help us as teachers be able to embrace it more effectively and put it into action.
I often use this blog to record my thoughts and am thinking about this as I write, and creating, revising etcetera as I go. I am just touching the surface and will explore this topic further, but needed to get it put to paper so to speak. Maybe you will want to take this journey with me as I dive into it. If so let me know and leave a comment. Then continue to comment as I read research and reread research so I do not subconsciously say the words of others without acknowledging them as such.
Troy F NBCT
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