Reading is a process that involves setbacks, challenges, breakthroughs, and for many of us moments of joy. As we read our understanding of the text grows and changes. It’s easy for me, and I suspect others, to forget that comprehension forms in this way, and to treat it more as a target that students more or less miss.
Inviting students to reflect on the reading process is a memorable way to consider how we have interacted with the text in an unfolding drama.
To set this up, I had students keep their “ThinkBooks” (reading journals) open as we read the text. We paused often to note any questions, predictions, contradictions, surprises, or moments of interest. I modeled this as we started out, wondering aloud about why a character might be motivated to act in a certain way, or why a particular word is used, or to describe what I pictured as we were reading.
After reading the text, I asked students to go back through their ThinkBooks and create a story about their reading process. I encouraged them to especially include the bits where they were confused, and how that was resolved, or where the text upended their expectations, and why.
What emerged were some thoughtful, interesting reflections on students’ adventures in reading. They weren’t polished pieces of writing, but they represented some real wrestling with the subject. I noticed that students seemed a bit more emboldened about reading after doing this, which I suspect was because we had spent a lot of time embracing the messiness of the process. In effect, this exercise seemed to affirm for students that it’s okay to wonder about what they’re reading; in fact, it’s part of the point of reading.
A final thought for my fellow Ontario teachers: this alternative gets at that tricky metacognition expectation that many of us are searching for ways to evaluate.
Image by tosaytheleast