Why does one read nonfiction text? I read nonfiction text to learn something new, confirm what I already thought I knew, or to challenge what I believe. All of those goals of reading require me to first be reflective about what I know so that as I read, I can recognize when there is new information from my reading. This is an important skill for students to have when reading nonfiction texts.
In this lesson, students first identify what they know and then listen to their brain for specific thoughts that indicate that they have learned something new.
After I've introduced the lesson, reminding students about the focus of nonfiction reading, I think aloud. I do this to show how closely I pay attention to my responses to a text as I read. Listing them as I read along, I state the phrases that I hear in my head as I discover new information. "Wow" or "I never knew that" are a couple of common phrases. When those words pop up for me as I'm reading, I can identify new information and learning. Students who are aware of what they are learning and when it is "new" can later challenge it and make comparisons between one book and another.
After I model my thinking, I ask students to listen to the text and pay attention to their own thinking. As a record of their thinking, I ask them to record what they heard in their head and also the gist of the information that was new.
Adding on to the phrases I heard in my head as I modeled this work, I created a chart with the things the students heard in their head. I use that list to help students listen for specific phrases as they are reading.
Finally, students are ready to try to listen for inner thinking and look for new learning, independently. Students read nonfiction texts, either books or articles, that they are not complete familiar with so that they are learning new information. They are recording their ideas down in their journal so that they can share with a partner later.
I remind them that reader use many strategies to understand nonfiction texts so as they are reading, if they have a question or other responses to the text, they should record those ideas as well.
After students have read and record their thinking, I call on students to share any new phrases or words they heard in their head as they were reading. They also get a chance to share with a partner something new that they learned.