Thursday, August 13, 2015

Book Study: Interactive Think-Aloud Lessons

Welcome friends!  Today's book study is a personal FAVORITE of mine because I have been stalking following this author for many years now.  Insert Lori Ozckus.
I know, right!  She is a doll.  But more than just good looks she has a magical presence that she brings to the classroom that I just can't get enough of.  From the very first conference I attended on her Reciprocal Teaching, I was HOOKED. 
After feeling that MAGIC, I created my special Critter Cafe using beanie babies as a tool for keeping strategy learning fun and engaging.  She definitely was part of that inspiration!
Beanie Baby Comprehension Strategies Poster Set
Last spring I read another LORI fave that helped me debunk and clarify many aspects of Close Reading in the Classroom.
And this month, I am again mystified by her "stage presence" 
with "Interactive Think-Aloud Lessons!"
This is book is OFF-THE-HOOK Awesome!  I have already cleared room off on my teaching counter because this baby will have special place there all-year-long!
Chapter 1 is rightfully titled, "Ready, Set, GO! Engaging your students with interactive think-alouds and lessons.  Current best practices in comprehension strategy instruction should include:
*Comprehension strategies that can be taught to improve reading comprehension.  
*Comprehension strategies include connecting, predicting/inferring, questioning, monitoring/clarifying, 
summarizing, synthesizing, and evaluating.
*Think-alouds are an effective teaching technique for making thinking public and improving comprehension.
*Students should work collaboratively to discuss texts.
*Genre matters.  Students need instruction in using comprehension strategies with both fiction and non-fiction texts.
*We need to teach comprehension to all grade-levels, including primary.
*Multiple strategy instruction is most effective since readers use more than one strategy at a time to comprehend a text.

Lori goes on to introduce THE SUPER SIX of comprehension strategies-
1. Connect (Making connections, thinking deeply, and enjoying reading more)
2. Predict/Infer (Making Sophisticated Guesses and Mastering the Strategy that separates the good and poor readers)

3. Questioning (Deepening comprehension and providing motivation to read)

4. Monitor/Clarify (Staying on track, Problem Solving, and Engaging with the Text)

5. Summarize/Synthesize (Determining Importance and Order of Ideas while strengthening responses to literature)

6.  Evaluate (Judging the Author, Text Ideas, and Our Own Reading Performance)

Lori teaches the SUPER SIX using a gradual release of responsibility model that makes her lessons extremely engaging.  Her interactive comprehension strategy lesson framework  looks like this:
A. Introduce the Strategy (Briefly tell what the strategy is, when to use it, and why the strategy is useful to readers.)
  1. Ask the students what they already know about the strategy. (It is important to tap into and build on students' prior knowledge about the strategy).
  2. Define and explain the strategy.
  3. Engage Students. (hand motion/gesture/music/drama)

B. Model the Strategy through Interactive Think-aloud 
  1. Teacher is reading and thinking aloud using strategy talk.
  2. Students are using hand motions and gestures to share their   

C. Support Interactive Guided Practice
  1. Teacher circulates, coaching 
  2. Students are doing THINK PAIR SHARE with partners or small groups on the same text or different text to locate and discuss new strategy.

D. Provide Independent Practice
  1. Students will practice using the strategy and may record their responses.

E. Wrap Up the Lesson
  1. Students will reflect on how the strategy helped them with their reading today.
  2. "The strategy......helped us......because..........

On page 38, Figure 1.3 is a rubric that Lori created for Evaluating strategy use.  Oh.My.Word.  I absolutely LOVE this rubric, so much so, that I created one to use with my first graders this year!

Chapter 2 begins with something really fun to try on the first week of school.  Lori calls it a "strategy dump."  Since our students use multiple cueing strategies to solve unknowns, This is the perfect opportunity to introduce each strategy, (and prop) to get kids thinking about which ones they already use when reading and which strategies might be new.  The trick is selecting just the right read aloud book that affords you the perfect venue for modeling these strategies together.
Lori provides TONS of read-alouds and matches them with each of the 8 strategies to take the guesswork out of the equation for us!

Chapter 3 is my favorite because this is where Lori weaves in the POWER of Metaphors!  When we use metaphors in our teaching, we help students learn by linking a new idea to a more familiar one.  Metaphors help anchor the abstract thinking that goes into reading. Metaphors help us make reading comprehension, an otherwise invisible process, more concrete for our students.(Insert the Props and critters!)  Lori provides a menu on page 56 of each comprehension strategy paired with a "character" and a "prop".
For example, Paula the Predictor, is a fortune teller that makes powerful predictions when she reads.  She has a crystal ball that she rubs when making predictions so the kids are making this gesture as they make predictions before reading.
Here's my Paula the Predictor anchor poster!
Lori has done the work for me and provided a lesson plan template to follow on pages 63-64 that help me introduce a new comprehension character for each of the 8 strategies.
Then she really went and outdid herself by creating a two-page "cheat-sheet" of all 8 characters/strategies/what to say/when to say it!  Needless to say, I already have this cheat sheet laminated and ready to go!

Chapter 4 moves into SHOW IT, SAY IT and using hand motions and strategy starters to scaffold the language of comprehension.
Lori shares her knowledge of how using gestures throughout lessons can build meta-cognition and independence.
Pages 74-78 contain detailed photos and demonstrations of how the kids "do" the gestures and hand motions for all 8 of the strategies.
Lori then created 8 AMAZING anchor charts for each strategy that have the "lingo" for students to use when discussing each strategy as their using their gestures.
My ALL TIME FAVORITE page in this book?
Page 82.
HELLO Comprehension Strategy Bookmarks!
These are the best bookmarks I have ever seen for teaching these comprehension strategies with thinking stems included!
My heart is fluttering!

Chapter 5 shouts out LIVE ACTION as students use drama and music to support the strategies!
Who knew learning could be so fun!
 This entire chapter is dedicated to helping teachers get dramatic results with drama and engaging students throughout comprehension lessons using drama.
On page 85, Lori gives a great example of how to incorporate drama throughout an interactive comprehension lesson.  Some of these dramatic props include funny faces, nifty noises, "bewitched scenes", Turn and interview, charades, lights-camera-action!, mannequin, puppet charade, and an overhead projector shadow show.  On top of that, Lori references Musical references for each of the comprehension strategies and uses them as "theme songs" during lessons!

PART II of this book is a Handy Reference Guide with AMAZING lesson plans to use for each of the 8 comprehension strategies.  These lessons are so incredible that I made this handy little reference page to keep as a reminder when I get ready to do my lesson plans this year.  
My Reflections:
Lori Oczkus is an exceptional teacher, author and mentor.
I feel like she is on "my page" and I am totally on "her page!"

This book is recommended with TWO THUMBS UP and your students will THANK YOU for it..... I promise!
If you really enjoyed this book study,
I have more comprehension goodness coming next week with this fabulous treasure-
Time for your feedback!  I would love to hear your comments on this book study and any fun tips or suggestions you may have for future readings!
Happy Learning!


  1. I enjoyed reading your post, Julie. I also love Lori's work; isn't she amazing?!

  2. I was thinking--I should get this book. But really, I don't need to--You did such a great job covering it!!! Thanks, so much food for thought! Happy Friday.


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