Wednesday, March 20, 2013

#Slice2013: Day 20 of 31 - Verbal Processors Make Thinking Visible

Did you know there were six different time periods?
Curiously is such a cool word!
I never knew Cherokee Indians lived in Texas!
I’d like to do that! (Pretending to shoot a bow and arrow)
Is this word archeologist?
They had cooking pots back then? They even had ovens. How strange!
That’s more like me and my sister, not me and my mom.
J is a stupid choice because it doesn’t even make sense. 

Questions, comments, and connections bounced off the classroom walls. As he read the STAAR-like passages during an individually administered benchmark, all the random, jumbled thoughts coursing through his brain spewed out of his mouth like lava from a volcano. This brilliant young man engaged in close reading, articulating his thinking process out-loud the entire time. After reading each selection he would answer the questions, explaining his thinking and looking back in the story for text evidence. Upon discovering proof, his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree, and he repeatedly reassured himself of his rightness.

Observing David’s visible thinking evoked interesting insights and thoughtful ruminations. As I watched him interact with the text, I noticed how his mind shifted from one idea to another like a pinball machine. Reading is a rigorous mental exercise, and it requires intense intellectual discipline. Maintaining meaning and organizing ideas is a challenging task for any reader.

So how do we get all of our kiddos to engage with text like David did? He was an active, involved reader, and his verbal processing clearly displayed his intellect. By thinking aloud, he made his mental gymnastics visible, and as a casual spectator, I found the experience quite delightful. I wish I had captured the testing scene on video, so other educators and I could find a way to replicate the exquisite thinking. David knows how to notice and note. He is a critical thinker, and although he missed a few of the test questions, I feel confident he is an above average reader. He is one of the lucky few who has acquired an extensive vocabulary, and by talking through his thoughts, he was able to reason, infer, and evaluate at high levels.

As a verbal processor myself, I appreciate others who need to articulate their thoughts in order to make sense of their world. I often interrupt my husband to reason through the ideas I encounter while reading a book or perusing online blogs or articles. Reading is a social act, and I believe rigorous reading task require creative solutions. Perhaps if we expected more of our students to talk about their thinking, they might get more from the text. Even boring STAAR passages can become entertaining when they become engaged consumers of the selections.

1 comment:

  1. I, too, wonder if using a video clip of David thinking through just 3 minutes of the text/questions would push other students in that active engaged direction. You've got me thinking of a partner share/video/reflect idea for review before our April test. Thanks!