No Series: Thinking Notes: A Strategy to Encourage Close Reading

Thinking Notes: A Strategy to Encourage Close Reading

Lesson Objective: Structure independent reading with metacognitive markers
Grades 9-10 / ELA / Reading


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. In what ways do 'thinking notes' require students to track their response to a text and engage in more thoughtful reading?
  2. What other reactions might you have students track when reading?
  3. How do 'thinking notes' help students prepare for and structure discussions?


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I love that the students are interacting with their reading and learning. Great way to engage the reader as well. Makes it personal and connected to the student!
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    02:00 TEXT:
    Thinking Notes
    02:04 TJ HANIFY: A strategy that I find really helpful when dealing

    02:00 TEXT:
    Thinking Notes
    02:04 TJ HANIFY: A strategy that I find really helpful when dealing with close reading tasks is called metacognitive markers or, as a more kid-friendly term, thinking notes. TEXT:
    T.J. Hanify
    9th & 10th Grade ELA Teacher
    International School, Bellevue, WA

    “Thinking Notes”
    02:12 TJ HANIFY SOUND UP: So your homework was to read through and use the thinking notes, so we didn’t just want highlighted text. We wanted some of those particular thinking notes for your reactions to it.
    TJ HANIFY SOUND UP: So let’s start with the last one there, just something that was confusing. Did anybody put down a double question mark? TEXT:
    Thinking Note:
    ?? Something is unclear or confusing
    STUDENT SOUND UP: The third page in the third paragraph, Z-E-I-T…

    TJ HANIFY SOUND UP: Zeitgeist.
    STUDENT SOUND UP: Yes, that one.
    TJ HANIFY SOUND UP: Right. Anybody here familiar with the term zeitgeist?
    02:39 TJ HANIFY: What you might see in a typical text that doesn’t use this is highlighting and students might underline or they might highlight. And really, if they’re not tracking their own response to the text, what they’re doing is just sort of saying over and over again, this is important.
    02:52 TJ HANIFY: So what we try to do is say why did you pick those particular elements and what was your reaction to them? TEXT:
    Thinking Note:
    ? Discussion point for class
    02:57 STUDENT SOUND UP: I thought that was a good way to end his entire letter and it was very well put and ended well. TEXT:
    Thinking Note:
    ! Great writing or idea
    TJ HANIFY: For a student, it makes a great, helpful way of remembering, over a period of time, how they reacted to a text.
    03:10 STUDENT SOUND UP: I was wondering, when it says outsiders coming in, what was that referring to? Because it was around quotation marks, so I thought it was referring to something. TEXT:
    Thinking Note:
    ?? Something is unclear or confusing

    03:17 STUDENT SOUND UP: The way he put it was really interesting. He was talking about, like, laws that you’d break because of, like, they’re not moral laws. TEXT:
    Thinking Note:
    Relates to the main idea
    TJ HANIFY: With this, instead of just saying I highlighted it, I’m not sure why, I can quickly say, okay, who’s got something that they thought raised an interesting question. And we can move to some really specific conversation prompts. GRAPHIC:
    “Thinking Notes”

School Details

International School
445 128th Ave Se
Bellevue WA 98005
Population: 575

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T.J. Hanify


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