Metacognitive Marvin, the Little Guy Inside My Head

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SWBAT: Identify when they lose focus while reading independently, and determine strategies to get him back.

Big Idea

Inspired by a quote in Cris Tovani's book "So What Do They Really Know?" students identify the narrator in their head.

Guiding Question

5 minutes

So, my district really uses the Thinking Strategies (Monitoring for Meaning, Drawing Inferences, Synthesizing, Asking Questions, Using Background Knowledge, Visualizing, Determining Importance). Kindergartners in my district use the word "schema." While I'm really fortunate that my students can identify these strategies, sometimes they can't put them into practice. When I read this quote from Tovani, I immediately thought of my husband who can barely get though a page of a book before he loses focus.

I started thinking that my students needed to be able to use strategies to focus on a task, especially during Independent Reading.

The Guiding Question asks the students to respond to the quote. I wanted to see if they had similar experiences, and what strategies they already had to overcome focus issues.


20 minutes

What happens when the little guy (we've named him Metacognitive Marvin) wanders? In previous lessons, we've learned how to choose "just right" books, we've chosen optimal learning zones (or OLZ's, in my class), and we've been working on building stamina. But students need strategies for when they just can't focus, or for when their text gets too difficult and they can't follow it anymore. The CCSS ask that students are reading highly complex texts and, as teachers, we need to support our students with strategies to work through these texts.

I ask the students for strategies for when they can't focus, and I record these on an anchor chart.

Work Time

30 minutes

I send students to their OLZ's (Optimal Learning Zone) for Independent Reading. During this time, I also read. Later on in the year, I will confer with students, but for now they need to see a proficient independent reader. Who knows? They may be watching for me, and how I handle it when my mind wanders off.

I instruct my students to pay attention to when their mind wanders while reading. When it does, I want them to jot down in their Writer's Notebook what strategy they used to get their little guy back. Right now, we are working to build our stamina for independent reading, so, while 30 minutes is the goal, it may not be achieved completely. And that's okay.

Wrap Up

5 minutes

My students choose from one of the Reflection stems each day. Here's an example of a student reflection from this lesson: