Putting our Thinking on Display

I'm reading through a book called Teaching With Intention by Debbie Miller, recommended again by the fabulous Scott at Brick by Brick.

Teaching with intention : defining beliefs, aligning practice, taking action, K-5In her section on creating classroom culture, she makes the point that, "when we want to cultivate dispositions for thinking in our students, we want to show them what good thinking sounds like, why it's important, and where it can lead us. Yes, we can tell them the importance of being curious or reflective, or even explicitly teach lessons focusing on attributes like these, but unless we also share our literate lives with children and think aloud to make our dispositions for thinking visible in authentic ways across the day and over time, it's unlikely to make a real difference." (pg 51).

I've been consciously using phrases like "good thinking!" or "I never thought of this in that way, that's an interesting choice!" when interacting with kids making projects or answering my questions in storytimes, but I'm reflecting now on how to take that a step further.

In the mixed-ages environment that we often see in storytimes, is is possible to incorporate authentic moments of transparent thinking without losing the group?

Here's where the librarian in me started jumping up and down while reading this chapter. When learning about comprehension strategies of proficient readers, Ms. Miller had an "ah!" moment. As she reports, Pearson, Roehler, Dole, and Duffy (1992) learned that active, thoughtful readers use just a handful of comprehension strategies, like:
  • activating their prior knowledge and making connections between what they know and new information they encounter in the texts they read
  • drawing inferences from the texts they read to form conclusions, make critical judgements, and create unique interpretations
  • asking questions of themselves, the authors they encounter, and the texts they read
  • determining the most important ideas and themes in texts they read
  • summerizing and synthesizing information within and across texts
  • monitoring the adequacy of their understanding
  • creating visual and other sensory images during and after reading (pgs 52-53)
Sound familiar to anyone? Librarians who are familiar with Every Child Ready to Read and Every Child Ready to Read 2 skills and activities are likely already incorporating practices in their storytimes building skills that address these strategies, albeit in a developmentally appropriate way.

But have we transferred those skills into our other programming? STEAM programs are easy to put your thinking on display, since those types of programs are naturally curious, questioning,  and problem solving based. But a Ninjago program? Star Wars Reads Day? Gingerbread houses? I'm challenging myself to work at engaging the learners in my programs by putting my thinking on display. We're a WiFi library; why not take a moment in a program to say, "you know what, I don't know what a fox sounds like, but I would like to. I wonder if it sounds like a dog or more like a wolf? I bet I could find a video of a fox on YouTube. Let me get an iPad and we can look it up and listen together." How would that change the culture of the program, or the relationship I have with the kids in the program?

Do you put your thinking on display? What challenges do you find in finding places for authentic thinking with multi-aged groups? Why do you keep doing it?



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