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How do you model the Distracting Voice?

november 3, 2020

Many teachers have been making the reading process more visible for students by introducing the Reading Voice and Thinking Voice during whole-class mini-lessons. When teachers use anchor text to model these two voices, it crystallizes the reality that students need to be thinking before, during, and after they are reading.

To solidify this point even further, it’s important to acknowledge the fact that readers also wrestle with a Distracting Voice. Introduce this voice and then equip students with strategies to overcome it.

Distracting Voice SignBEFORE THE LESSON

  • Plan a visual trigger to make the idea more memorable. Our comprehension signs include the red Distracting Voice. Attach it to a paint stick to represent which thoughts are on point—versus those that are off topic. (You can make your own or purchase a set.)


  • Hold the Reading Voice sign back to back with the Distracting Voice sign.
  • Project an authentic text for all students to see.
  • Begin to read aloud while holding up the Reading Voice sign.
  • After a few words or sentences, slowly rotate the signs and model how your Distracting Voice begins to think about something off topic.
  • Repeat this process several times modeling a variety of common and age-appropriate distractions (e.g., tattling, environment noticings, boredom, etc.).
  • With each distraction, flip to reveal the Distracting Voice sign to illustrate that although those are thoughts—they are not about the text.

The point of these illustrations is to show students how the Reading Voice can be doing its job while we are thinking about something totally unrelated.

In our professional development for teachers, we emphasize that this whole-class lesson is NOT just about naming the types of Distracting Voice thoughts. We also must provide students with strategies to self-monitor, overcome, and mute them.

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Super Saturday Reading Conference
Introduce Reading Voice and Thinking Voice


Introduce Reading Voice and Thinking Voice

Self-Monitor to Mute the Distracting Voice


Self-Monitor to Mute the Distracting Voice