Origins of Texas Librarian
Texas Librarian began as a way for me to organize my lesson plans by grade level and help me be more meta cognitive while reading aloud so that I could make my thinking visible to students. It has evolved into a useful resource for others.
I wanted to find ways to show students how to become thinkers while reading. Students who are not read to as small children have not had the opportunity to internalize thinking strategies, and research has shown that modeling these thinking skills helps children to start making connections when they read.
How I Discovered “Making Thinking Visible”
In 2005, I read an article in School Library Journal by Sharon Grimes, which sparked my interest in making thinking visible and showing young children how good readers think when they read.
By using strategies from Debbie Miller’s book, Reading With Meaning: Teaching Comprehension in the Primary Grades, Grimes’ school improved the students’ reading comprehension and test scores.
From Grimes’ article:
The results were amazing. Our apathetic readers eagerly waved their hands to share their connections. One particular student, Sam, who was reading below grade level, was suddenly interested in checking out more books. In three short months, he began to read at grade level. Because of the connections students forged with the text, even our least able readers were easily able to identify with a story’s theme. And as their level of engagement increased, so did their comprehension of the story.
I bought Miller’s book, and I attended a workshop presented by Debbie Miller that next year. I saw these techniques as something I could do in short reading lessons in the library with grades Pre-K through fifth grade. Miller puts into practice the ideas originally from Keene’s Mosaic of Thought, which I also read after reading Miller’s book.
How It Works
Using techniques that model thinking skills fills a gap that some children have when it comes to comprehending what they read. Asking students to share what is in their schema before reading, to make connections to themselves and other texts during reading, and to practice making mental images has changed the way students are engaged during the group read aloud time.
Young readers that were gazing into space and asking if I was going to read another book before they could get up and check out books before I started using these techniques are now actively participating in sharing what they are thinking about what I am reading to them.
Instead of reading to entertain, I now read with many pauses to hear my students’ connections and to show them how to remember what they read by making these connections. Making connections to their own lives has made reading much more interactive for them.
Who is Texas Librarian?
Since 1990, I have been an elementary school librarian in Garland Independent School District, located in Garland, Texas. I have a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of North Texas (1975) and a Master of Library Science from Texas A&M, Commerce (1984).
I read books and taught reading skills at times, but I did not know how exciting read alouds could be until I began this journey to make thinking visible. I am passionate about teaching children who struggle with comprehension, and by using techniques that make thinking visible, I have seen a positive change in how they view the process.
My passion for making thinking visible is what led me to develop TexasLibrarian.com to share reading comprehension strategies that can be taught with specific books.
My hope is that those who want to read aloud with children will start pausing to share their own connections and thoughts as they read in order to show their students how they think and to make thinking visible.