I ran across this recent story by NPR. In the story they highlight the fact that helping kids identify where letters and words are over just reading to them has a significant impact because you are teaching the child to find and follow words on the page, not just listen. My summary does not do the story any bit of justice so just listen already!
I think it is critical that we give students opportunities to discuss what they are thinking. When I was teaching in the classroom, discussion was a huge part of how I guided students to higher order thinking. Along with book club and small group discussion I also used frequent mini discussion times such as a “pair and share”.
The over dramatic (I had to preface the viewing of this video with some warning) teacher in the video presents the idea of “Thinking Partners”. I like that term. What I really liked is how she modeled to students the appropriate way to interact with your “thinking partner”. These first few weeks are crucial moments in setting up procedures for the year. How do you model “pair and shares”, “buzzing” (Fountas and Pinnell), or “thinking partners” with your students?
Research has proven that students can dramatically improve comprehension through the teaching of explicit reading strategies; i.e. connecting, inferring, questioning, visualizing, determining importance, synthesizing, and summarizing. I have been teaching my students these strategies for years and have seen the benefits for years now. Every year I make thinking helpers (bookmarks) that the students can keep in their books to help them code their thoughts and text as they record their thinking on thinkmarks or sticky notes.