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.
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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!
I love the idea of having students reflect and share thoughts during a read aloud. It is great to see students making observations and posing questions. I also wonder if this might be an opportunity to model effective questioning, commenting, back-channeling, tweeting, etc. Maybe the next level of “thinking” is to have students begin to filter which thoughts, comments and questions are the best ones to move everyone’s thinking forward. Just a thought.
Paul, thanks for the comment! I LOVED your idea! I actually pulled up your comment and showed it to my students today. You inspired our next read aloud activity where we re-looked at what people wrote, discussed the good types of reflections to share, and then shared ideas based on what we thought would help move other people’s thinking forward. We’ll continue to work on this in class, and also start looking at good questions to ask to really help others reflect.
Thank you for continuing to help push my thinking (and teaching) forward! I really appreciate it.