Introduce the Reading Voice and Thinking Voice

Reading comprehension is an invisible process. It is a conversation that occurs in the reader’s head. The reader decodes a few words or sentences and then thinks about what they mean.

To help students grasp this process, introduce them to their reader voices.

Our Reading Voice decodes the text; it recognizes letters, words, visuals, and sounds. The Thinking Voice interprets or explains what each means.

The Reading Voice speaks loudly. But the Thinking Voice whispers. With this in mind, we have to be intentional about listening for the Thinking Voice. Too often students think that by simply saying all the words, they will understand what the text is about.

Introducing the two reader voices to students helps them recognize that readers are thinkers.

Model reader voices with the Comprehension Voice Signs

An effective way to illustrate the reader voices is to use the Comprehension Voice Signs as a visual trigger. During read-alouds and whole-class mini-lessons, reveal the signs and demonstrate how readers think while they read.

Hold the signs back to back and flip to the Reading Voice sign as you read aloud words and study visuals in a text.

Then, rotate the signs to show the Thinking Voice as you look away from the text and share a thought about what they mean.

Modeling the Reading Voice and Thinking Voice goes beyond a single mini-lesson. Rather, they should be referenced during your reading instruction all year long.

For example, plan to reference the reader voices when

  • Introducing new skills within comprehension mini-lessons.
  • Practicing previously-taught skills during a read-aloud.
  • Applying relevant skills with content-area texts.

Constant reference to the reader voices will remind students to listen for their Thinking Voice and will ultimately improve achievement in reading comprehension.

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

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Comprehension Playbook learning center

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