Once we get the routines of the workshop down, I introduce my students to metacognition using a lesson from Tanny McGregor's first book, Comprehension Connections. I LOVE this book! If you don't have a copy, it's an absolute must for every elementary reading teacher! Tanny shares several ways to teach abstract thinking strategies in concrete ways- it's fantastic and applicable to all grade levels!
Basically she uses the mixed salad metaphor to demonstrate how "real" reading is a mix of the text and the reader's thoughts. In her book, Tanny explains that you can use cut up squares of green and red paper to make the salad; the red squares represent nuggets of text and the green squares represent the reader's thoughts, questions, connections, etc.
I decided to use connecting cubes because they can literally connect, and I can show students that real reading follows a pattern including both reading/decoding text AND one's thoughts. I labeled a couple plastic cereal bowls with "text" and "thinking", and then I used a clear container for "real reading salad" so that the kids could see the mix of colors inside. We discuss that if you are only reading, and not thinking at the same time, that it is not real reading. I also explain that "real reading salad" is like food for their brains!
When doing this lesson, you want to choose a book that has a "meaty" or interesting topic. I chose Miss Little's Gift by Douglas Wood.
It's a challenging and thought-provoking text for first grade, but that's exactly one of the reasons why I chose it. It's a wonderful story about a young boy (the author) who struggles to learn how to read and his teacher who refuses to give up on him.
First, I model my real reading salad by dropping in a red cube each time I read some text, and then follow it up with a green cube when I share my thinking. After reading about half the book, I invite students to help. I pass out a green cube to each child and then we finish the book. This can be a long lesson, so you need to use your judgement when deciding how much to read. You can certainly split the lesson in half, modeling on the first day and asking students to share in the practice the following day. Here are some of my friends sharing their thinking.
Be sure to stop by the Workshop Wednesday linky to see how others have gotten their workshops started!
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