Thinking Lights On

Apr 7, 2014 | by Janice Smith

Thinking Light

In this clip we see Ms. Trapani as she greets a small group of readers and begins their lesson.    Ms. Trapani is incredible at always building context into the work that students are doing, and why that work is so important.  This is often tied to their end goals (both of that year, and their ultimate goal of attending the college of their choice), and here we see her introducing the idea of ‘Thinking Lights’.

While this is an example of a 2nd grade classroom, it definitely made me reflect on my own reading habits and how many times I stop to realize my brain had wandered and I remember very little of what I just read.  This tells me while seen here in 2nd grade, this is not an idea or strategy limited to that of lower elementary.  While we might call it something different with middle schoolers or high schoolers, the idea that constantly activating our brains while reading  (and being aware when that might ‘turn off’ or wander) can help us be more intentional and ultimately stronger readers, is certainly an idea that can be applied in any classroom.

Shortly after the clip ends, Ms. Trapani then uses this idea to transition to that day’s objective.  This hook made it easier for students to understand and work towards a transparent goal for their reading in that lesson.  Lastly, it was cool to see her and students reference their thinking lights throughout the lesson.  It gave them a language for discussing what was going on in their heads as they were independently reading.


Reading is something students do in all classes.  How could you integrate this idea of a ‘thinking light’ (regardless of what you might call it), in order to push students to think about their own thinking as they read?  Would love to hear some thoughts below on how others adapt and apply!

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