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Introduce Reading Voice and Thinking Voice

May 17, 2022

In many respects, reading is harder to teach than writing— mainly because it’s invisible. Writing has a product. After a student writes, the teacher has something to look at, point out, and talk about with the student.

Because reading does not include any visible product, and students drop their heads and look at the text, there is no way to know what’s going on inside their heads until they look up and share their thinking. Consequently, teachers must work diligently to make the reading process and their comprehension instruction concrete and visible.

Make reading visible

An effective way to make reading visible is to use graphic icons to explain that readers listen to multiple “voices.” These include the Reading Voice and the Thinking Voice.

Introduce the Reading Voice as a green “speech” bubble. Explain that it says and pronounces the words in the text.

However, if a student only utilizes the Reading Voice, he will NOT understand what was just read. That’s because, in order to make meaning, a reader has to use his yellow Thinking Voice as well.

You read a little (Reading Voice), and you have a thought (Thinking Voice). You read a little more, and you have another thought. It’s the invisible conversation between the Reading Voice and Thinking Voice that produces comprehension.

Examples of the Thinking Voice in action:

Model a reader’s voices

After introducing the graphic icon that represents the “voices,” plan to model it with a Think Aloud so that students can see and hear the teacher’s voices in action. Using a short text/excerpt, explain that when your finger moves under each word and you read it aloud, this will represent your Reading Voice. And, whenever your finger pauses, and you physically lean to the side and whisper aloud, that represents the thoughts of your Thinking Voice.

Model the Reading Voice and Thinking Voice with several different texts – for days! Model the voices in literature, informational text, content-area texts. Model the voices when reading pictures, videos and audio texts, too.

Below is a sample of such a Think Aloud:

READING VOICE: [Point at each word while reading the text aloud.]

Thinking Voice: [Pen pauses on word as you lean to the side to whisper.] Okay, so that reminds me of the last chapter when he got in trouble for doing that. I’m predicting that he’s going to get in trouble again.

READING VOICE: [Continues.]

Thinking Voice: I was right; he did get in trouble again.

READING VOICE: [Continues.]

Thinking Voice: Okay, I don’t know that word, so I will back up just a little bit to see if I can use context clues to figure that out.

READING VOICE: [Continues.]

Thinking Voice: Okay, I’m thinking that word means–.

READING VOICE: [Continues.]

Thinking Voice: Now there are no pictures on this page, but I can imagine the steam coming out of the mom’s ears. I can imagine stomping. I even hear the stomping of her foot on the floor. I’m totally visualizing this scene.

Clarify that readers are thinkers

After the Think Aloud, anticipate student’s expressions. Many will be shocked at how many thoughts you had within that short passage. Some students may even question if they have such a Thinking Voice. Assure them that they do, although it may be on mute! They need to turn up the volume and tune into it to hear it.

Reiterate that the Thinking Voice is a whisper. Caution students against speeding through the text simply word calling with their Reading Voices. When readers pause to listen to their Thinking Voices, they will achieve greater comprehension of the texts they read.

To encourage students to listen for the whispers of their own Thinking Voices, provide them their own mini-signs (Black & White | Color) or Thinking Tubes.

Reading Voice, Thinking Voice, Distracting Voice - Icons without Words - Version 1

Digital Text: 1 | 2

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cason
cason
1 year ago

i need the definison of thinking voice

Liz Shockey
Liz Shockey
Admin
Reply to  cason
1 year ago

Your Thinking Voice is what you hear in your mind while you’re reading. Your Reading Voice just says the words from the text. Your Thinking Voice adds in ideas and questions and predictions that you think of because of the words you read. Hope that helps! Happy Thinking!

Dianna
Dianna
Reply to  cason
1 year ago

It’s metacognitive thinking aloud so students can hear your thinking process.

Liz Shockey
Liz Shockey
Admin
Reply to  Dianna
1 year ago

It is just that. Telling students your own thought process demonstrates that the skill involves thought and isn’t automatic. Kristina emphasizes that kind of thinking in her article on how to Teach Explicitly-I do, You Watch & Listen.

Cassandra Reed
Cassandra Reed
10 months ago

Thank you for the lesson.

Liz Shockey
Liz Shockey
Admin
Reply to  Cassandra Reed
10 months ago

We’re glad you enjoyed the Reading Voice/Thinking Voice lesson. If you liked that mini-lesson idea, you might also enjoy hearing more about how to deal with the Distracting Voice.
How do you model the Distracting Voice?
Self-monitor to mute the Distracting Voice.

Comprehension Playbook
Activate background knowledge when inferring

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Activate Background Knowledge When Inferring

Broaden the Meaning of Text-to-World Connections

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Broaden the Meaning of Text-to-World Connections

Apply Connections Back to Text

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