Thursday, 5 June 2014

Collaborative Reading Workshop - great for higher order thinking

I'm excited to share with you one of the most simple but effective instructional approaches for higher order thinking in the middle years - Collaborative Reading Workshop.  

You can download my journal article about this approach and also my innovation on Reciprocal Teaching here.  

In my article, I use the lyrics to Michael Franti's song, "You Can Bomb the World to Pieces but you Can't Bomb it Into Peace" with a Year 7 class of students.  

Collaborative Reading Workshop is a really simple process where as a whole class, a text is shared and annotated.  Students highlight any unknown vocabulary and mark the text to hold their thinking.  I usually model how to mark (or annotate) the text on the interactive whiteboard. The student annotations include questions, connections and wonderings.

The students need to have their own copies of the text, a highlighter pen and three post-it notes (and I usually use three different colours for the three stages in this process).
After they have annotated their own copies of the text, the students choose their most burning question and write it on the first post-it note.  They take turns to come out the front of the classroom and share their burning question aloud before sticking it to the "Burning Questions" chart.  

Next, they choose a wondering - something that they are thinking or wondering about - and they write this on their second post-it note, then come out the front and share that aloud for the whole class, before sticking that post-it note to the "Wondering Wall."

Finally, the students make a connection - a text-to-text, text-to-self, or text-to-world connection.  I have found that the students in the younger years tend to mostly make text-to-self connections, so when I am modelling on the interactive whiteboard, I make sure I model the other two types of connections as well.  The students choose their favourite connection, write that on their third post-it note and then share that with the class before sticking it to the "Clever Connections" chart.

What was fascinating to me, was the depth of thinking that this simple process generates and student engagement is to the max.  I have been stunned by some of the students' thinking.  In fact, the students in my research project told me that they found generating their own questions and wonderings was way more rigorous and demanding than simply answering the teacher's questions and by sharing their thinking collectively, the depth of that thinking simply snowballs!

You can read the research behind this approach and view the depth of student thinking here. By examining the student responses, you can see that Collaborative Reading Workshop moves students on from literal thinking to being text analysts and critical thinkers.  The students then work in groups to sort their questions and wonderings into whether they can find the answer in their heads, in a book or somewhere else and work in teams to find the answers to their questions.

I use short provocative texts that will capture the students' interest - newspaper reports and song lyrics are just great!  You could also use advertisements and's limitless really.

I really hope you and your students have fun with this approach, because each time I teach a Collaborative Reading Workshop lesson, I get goosebumps from the depth and insight in the students' questions and wonderings.

My wonderful clip art guru, Iva from etsy has created some clip art so I can share the three posters with you.  Print them out A3 or even larger (chart-sized for a whole class lesson).

I would love to hear from anyone who gives this approach a go. 

You can find the charts in my TPT store. (Click on the image below).