Readers do not learn to make meaning with perspective and empathy through a lecture or an explanation. Rather, when teachers model the authentic act of thinking perspective and empathy aloud, and then coach students to do the same while they read independently, this is when our growing readers most effectively develop their reading intelligence.
It is natural that we think as we read, but when we can name our thinking with a common language and shared understandings (i.e., perspective and empathy), we are empowered to become intentional about developing and exercising our thinking skills as a habit of mind.
Thinking with perspective and empathy is one of the most powerful cognitive processes, which that we may refer to as the ABCs of critical reasoning. Exercising perspective and empathy, we better understand complex situations, generate solutions to problems, and nurture new insight. And, when we reflect upon our cognitive processes and how we have used perspective and empathy to making meaning, aiming to self-evaluate and improve our cognitive processes, we grow as readers. We refer to this as meta-cognition (thinking about thinking).
Having just read a page half-way through Mr. Lincoln's Way by Patricia Polacco, I model perspective and empathy for my students gathered on the carpet for a interactive read aloud:
Show, don't tell. Help our students become readers who make meaning!
This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.