Monthly Archives: November 2015

On the surface/Below the surface thinking

On the SurfaceThe core of gifted reading instruction is challenging and pushing the children to think more deeply and at higher levels about text. For my 3rd graders, up until this point analyzing a text has consisted of “surface thinking” such as listing characters, describing setting, identifying plot basics such as problem and solution, etc. While these are needed components, it is the higher thinking levels that we are targeting.

The analogy I use is “on the surface”/”below the surface”. When a child describes a character based on specific descriptions in the text “she hasBelow the surface deep green eyes” or uses an illustration “he has curly hair”, we’ve identified that as a “captain obvious” response. There’s no detective work needed there. However when we go below the surface of what is explicitly stated in the text, we construct meaning from clues. Often this type of thinking doesn’t lead to one “right or wrong” answer but rather shades of interpretations. This is why we learn to use text based evidence to support or prove what we think. I think “reading between the lines” was the way I learned this skill as a reader.

This thinking then transfers to life skills. One of the things I work on with the children is social skills. Sometimes our gifted learners don’t always pick up on the subtle hints others send or they communicate in ways that are frequently misunderstood by others. Reading a person’s facial expressions and body language helps the children learn to pick up on social cues that others present to them. Then there are times when the children automatically assume others just “know” what they are communicating (my favorite is “I told him to ‘stop’!” Ah what did you want him to stop doing? Be specific…) This is when I have to clarify that we do need to be explicit and obvious when communicating to avoid misunderstandings. It is almost funny that kids tend to communicate below the surface with each other (and just expect everyone to know what they mean) but when they analyze text and often situations, they think on the surface! By helping children become aware of these skills I hope to help them be deeper thinkers and clearer communicators.

Captain Obvious