Reading is Thinking!

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SWBAT utilize and explain how reading strategies, such as questioning and connecting, improves the comprehension of text.

Big Idea

Get students ACTIVELY READING by demonstrating reading strategies and giving the class a chance to use them!



  • Chart paper and markers - draw brain image beforehand
  • Book to demonstrate for the students (not long)
  • Set of easy short books for the students (so they are able to preview/read in 10 minutes)
  • active reader name cards for the students
  • one post it note for each student and a pencil
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: connecting, imaging/visualizing, summarizing, questioning, inferring, predicting, illustrations, words
  • whiteboard set up

Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words.

Get students engaged

  • "Today we will talk about the idea the "Reading is Thinking."  I have this special namecard on my desk because I am an active reader. " (SHOW TO THE CLASS)  
  • "I'll demonstrate for you how reading is thinking and you will have a turn being an active reader.  At the end, everyone will have a chance to practice and share your ideas!"'
  • "Maybe you can get an active reader card too."

Teachers' Turn

10 minutes

Explain the task:  

  • "Today I'll demonstrate what an inactive and active reader looks like. We'll use this chart paper to make a visual of the strategies." 
  • "As I use a reading strategy, I'll write the name of the strategy on the post-it and put it on the poster."


In 2nd grade students who ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding (RL.2.1) tend to be very literal so take the opportunity to ask higher level questions, using "why," "how," etc. Using the illustrations on the cover and in the book is critical to demonstrate and remind students that the pictures are important to understanding (RL.2.7) - experience has shown us that often, students do not utilize the illustrations to gain information from text.  This is a great opportunity to informally introduce some vocabulary or review words from first grade (predict, summarize, imagery, infer, connect). 



  • "Here's my special namecard that I use for active reading - when I'm thinking while reading.  Let me flip the card it down and show you what it looks like to not actively read."
    • Grab 3-4 books and browse through books (1st pg, middle page, last page) quickly showing kids how you are not interacting with the story.
    • "What did you think?  Was I thinking while I was reading?  Was I an active reader?  NO!! Why not?"  Take ideas from the kids."
  • "Now I'll put my Active Reader card up and try again.  I brought this chart to show me some ideas of ways to be an active reader.  Why is there a brain on the chart?"
  • "I'm going to look at this book and use some strategies to better understand it.  There are words and illustrations. Let's see which help me. When I'm done, I'll pick the strategy that helped me the most and write it on the chart paper."
    • "Here's an illustration of a dog in the story. I have one like this at home...I'll write 'connecting' on the chart."
    • "Based on what I just read, I am going to guess that .... will happen."  I'll write 'predicting' on the chart."
    • "Who.. What... Where... When.. let's find the answers in the words and illustrations. I'll write 'questioning' on the chart."
    • "I can make picture that in my head since there are only words on this page ...  I'll write 'imaging' on the chart."
    • "It doesn't say that this happens, but based on what's in the illustration ... I'll write 'inferring' on the chart."
    • "Well let me tell you in a short sentence about what the words said ... I'll write 'summarizing' on the chart."
  • This is your opportunity to MODEL OUT LOUD. The students need to hear your thinking and using the words and illustrations to better understand the story. They need to hear that you talk to yourself about the strategies, connect to ways that are familiar to them ("I love the cover because it has dogs").
  • Correct yourself occasionally - "My summary is that the boy was playing and then he went home - no wait I'll look at the picture  - I forgot to say that he went to school and then went home."  
  • "Wow - I did a lot of thinking while I was reading.  I was an 'Active Reader' because I was thinking while I was reading, using what was in the words and illustrations. I have a post-it note and I'm going to write down my strategy-'predicting' because when I predicted what happened to the girl, it really helped me understand what I was reading better."
  • Here's what the chart paper with reading ideas looked like.


The third I taught this lesson, I really focused on being an active reader and how the kids could also 'earn' their active reader cards.  My students really need to improve their focus during silent reading time. I find them glancing around the room, scanning through pages, and not looking at pictures. I'll pull out these cards again and again throughout the year to review that an 'active reader' really looks at pictures, reads the words, and using reading strategies to understand.

The Students Take a Turn

25 minutes

Explain the task:

  • "Now its your turn to be an active reader and practice THINKING WHILE READING."
  • "I am giving each of you a short book and a 'active reader card' to write your name on."
  • "You'll be using strategies to see how they help and filling out a post-it to show how which one helps you the most."


Students work

  • "What were those reading strategies that we talked about?" Review the the chart paper again.
  • "Ok, now take a minute to write your name on the card.  Put it on your desk."
  • "Pick up your book and be an ACTIVE READER.  You have 10 minutes to practice several those reading strategies that we talked about. See what helps you the most."  
  • "When you're done, you will put the post-it with the strategy that helped you understand the book the most on the chart"  (give 1 minute warning)
  • "Here's a picture of our chart with the post-it notes.

Walk around as students work. Ask them to show you the reading strategy they are using. Talk aloud to show what students are doing - "This student is connecting the pictures in this book to those in a similar story about whales."  or  "I'm glad to see that he is predicting what will happen to the dog as he meets different animals at the zoo."

Reflect and Share

10 minutes


  •  "Think about your reading?  How were you an active reader?"
  • "Who would like to Share quickly how a strategy helped you?"
  • "Wow you guys were really thinking while you were reading!  
    • "Did the active reading help you understand the books better?"
    • "When is a good time to use active reading?"
  • "We will be talking about using these strategies more in the next few weeks."
  • "Keep your active reader cards.  I think you'll be doing more active reading in the next few days, don't you?"


Take a look at the post-its and where they fall on the chart. As you compare strategies you may notice more or less post-its on the different strategies. Which reading strategy do the kids use and are more familiar with?  Since you'll be covering each strategy in detail later, you will know which strategies are used more frequently and need less practice and those that need more instruction and time spent.


Scaffolding and Special Education- This lesson could be scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

For those who struggle to read, you could either give them an easier book or have them read with a partner. Perhaps suggest 'predicting' or 'connecting', as those seem to be the easier strategies for students to use.

Students with more language ability should be encouraged to read a more difficult book and explain more clearly with evidence - "Tell me how you made that prediction?" or "Show me which words you connected to the other book."