07 April 2006

All Hail The Workshop Model (unless you're a sixth grader)

Last year, my lead Literacy ReBot was HUGE on "think-alouds", which is the part of the lesson where you read or write and "think out loud" so that the kids can "see" your thought process. I found myself working it into my lessons this year, and while it felt odd at first, I caught on. I also read more on my own about the rationale for doing it. The idea is that when you do it regularly, it helps the kids to catch on, and ideally do it themselves and become better readers.

So now it's sort of second nature. Of course, the fact that I've incorporated it fairly easily into my teaching should mean that my students have worked it into their reading.

But maybe not. Today, when I opened a copy of Leonardo's Horse by Jean Fritz and got ready to do my thing, one of my students raised her hand and asked, "Are you going to do that thing where you stop and talk about what you've read? Because that's really annoying!"

"Really?" I asked. "You don't find that it helps you?" About half of them shook their heads. "Does anyone else find it annoying?" More than half of them were happy to say yes.

I wonder what the ReBots would say about that. And if the kids find it "annoying" is it benefiting them at all?


Chris Barton said...

"Are you going to do that thing where you stop and talk about what you've read? Because that's really annoying!"

I get that a lot, too, from my 7-year-old, especially when we're reading nonfiction. I try to give a little historical background in mid-story when I hear:

"Just read."

So, it's not just you. Or me. It's them.

Anonymous said...

My students don't mind when I pause to discuss a passage, but I think they'd balk at a "think-aloud." I don't think like a think-aloud, so a think-aloud would be forced in my case. Kids in my experience don't respond well to what's forced. Modeling works when it's real. (That doesn't mean think-alouds are forced for everyone; they would be forced for me.)

Of course, modeling involves some contrivance: we have to slow down our process and organize it in a certain way in order to make it clear. We rarely model an activity in the way we actually do it on our own, because real-life processes are more idiosyncratic and complex. Nonetheless, some types of modeling are more genuine than others, and will likely have a greater effect on the students.

That's separate from the overall issue of interrupting a reading. Some kids want you to "get on with it" no matter why you've stopped. Yet when we're dealing with a complex text, the students eventually see the rewards in the pauses.