Brian kissmanResearch shows that reading intelligence is the driving force in learning. Think about it. Queries such as “What do you think about the character’s desires and struggles?” or “What do you think about the message of the story?” are most effective in getting us
to think about what we read and to make meaning.

“What do you think?” These four simple words encourage us to read between the lines and to put two and two together. We learn to make meaning through inferences, interpretations, and reflections. As we develop our reading intelligence, we transition from learning to read to reading to learn, which means ‘making meaning.’

One strategy we use at New York Academy to have students ‘read, and then write to make meaning.’ They do this making interpretations and reflections (supported by evidence) by responding to logically sequenced‘what do you think’ prompts. The following is a sample of a 3rd grade student’s written responses to these prompts:

Why did the character act this way?

Eugene is being a bully because he has no friends. He is angry. But, he does not realize that if he were nice the other kids would be willing to be his friends. I had a friend once who was very angry one day and no one would even go near him. As I read the story, I notice that Eugene comes to school every morning angry. So, maybe something is happening at home? A big question I generated is, “Why do some kids become bullies?”

Was it right or wrong for the character to act this way?

Of course it was wrong. Even if we are angry, we cannot be mean to others.

What did the character get from acting this way?

The more he bullied others, the more no one wanted to be his friend.

How am I like the character in this story?

I am nothing like the character in this story. I would never bully others because I was bullied once and I did not like it.

What is the lesson learned?

Perhaps the lesson learned, or the message of the story, is that when someone is angry or being a bully it is because there is something wrong in his or her life. We have to have empathy and perspective to help others in difficult times.

How has this lesson changed the way I think?

It has helped me to always of a sense of empathy and perspective for others no matter how bad they are behaving because if I am struggling I would want others to understand and help me to be better.

The student supported their thinking with text-to-self, text-to-world, and text-to-text evidence.

Across the school year, students respond to these prompts again and again with books they read, and soon this making meaning becomes critical thinking as a habit of mind.

At New York Academy we grow lifelong, passionate readers!

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