For years now, I’ve heard the saying that, “reading is thinking.” I’ve even used this saying in class. Today though, I really started to think about what this means.
In class, I just started reading a new book to the students: Tunnels of Treachery. My plan was to read Chapter 2 in class today, but on the way to school, I had an idea. I thought about reading the book on the radio. When I got to school, I messaged Andy Forgrave (@aforgrave), and he thankfully agreed to give me some air time on 105 the Hive. Below is a recording of the read aloud. A special thank you to Alley, who agreed to use the Livescribe Pen to capture our discussion.
While I was reading aloud, I asked the students to share their thinking in a Today’sMeet Room or on Twitter. You can see a transcript of the conversation here.
Looking back at what was shared, I can’t help but think about the connection between reading and thinking. In the past when I read aloud, students were passive listeners. I might have asked them a question or two, and maybe I even gave them an opportunity to reflect afterwards, but basically I was doing all of the work. With the use of the radio and the backchannels, students are really getting a chance to show that, “reading is thinking.” They are making their thinking visible in what they share and how they reply to others. I can push this thinking forward by reading their comments and asking them questions. I can also stop periodically during my read aloud to get students to share their contributions orally: creating a scaffold for those students that need to hear what others are thinking, what the information means, or what points are important. I can also provide more small group support as I read the comments in the backchannel: seeing what students are choosing to share and asking questions to those that I think need to expand on their ideas. Modelled reading is now becoming more than just a full class activity, but instead, another opportunity for small group support.
How do you use backchanneling in your classroom? What impact do you think it has on students? I would love to hear your thoughts!