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Inner Voice Conversation


As students read, they need to be cognizant of their inner voice—the conversation in their head with the text in their hands—as they read. They also need to recognize the strategies they are using to comprehend texts and make meaning so that they can call upon them when they find their comprehension lagging. The Inner Voice organizer, adapted from Cris Tovani’s Do I Really Have to Teach Reading? (2004), is an effective way to introduce students to metacognitive awareness of their inner voice and to the strategies they use to make meaning. It also provides useful data for students and teachers about reading comprehension, development of understanding, and acquisition of new content.

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Inferring
  • Metacognition
  • Questioning
Interacting with the Text, Self-Questioning

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Social Studies

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Balancing Informative and Literary Texts
  • Metacognition


  • Students can use the graphic organizers as they read a text of any length, though it works best with a book or other longer text.
  • Determine the learning strategies you want students to be mindful of as they read. If using this activity to introduce students to the concept of reading strategies and metacognition, you may find it helpful to develop an anchor chart of strategies over time. However, this activity can also be used after a focus lesson on a specific strategy.
  • Provide students with graphic organizer. • Determine student groupings. This activity is best done individually as students read, but can be used as the basis for partner or group discussions of texts and metacognition.
Activity Steps 
  1. Introduce a text excerpt to students that you will use to model through a think-aloud and the use of the graphic organizer. Explain that effective readers have a conversation in their head as they read, and that they use specific strategies to make meanin
  2. Perform the think-aloud with the text, sharing your inner conversation. After reading a suitable excerpt from the text (several paragraphs or a page), model the use of the graphic organizer by recording a three- to four-sentence summary of your conversati

    Be sure to both think aloud and model summarizing your thinking on the worksheet. Depending on the level of the students, it may not be necessary to begin with complete sentences; bullet points can be used instead.

  3. Record any reading strategies you used while reading the passage.

    At this point, depending on the students’ familiarity with reading strategies, you may need to introduce a specific strategy and provide an explanation.

  4. Provide students with an opportunity to practice reading and recording their inner voice conversation.

    Students read a brief excerpt (three or four paragraphs), then record their thoughts on the organizer as guided practice.

  5. Ask students to pair-share their organizer with a partner.

    As students share, note any who have identified additional strategies.

  6. Bring the class together. Ask students to share their inner voice conversation summary and any strategies they used as they read or ones that they may already be familiar with.

    If students are unfamiliar with reading strategies, this step and those following can be skipped for now and used with a later lesson.

  7. Create an anchor chart of the strategies.
  8. Ask students to self-assess what strategies and skills they use more often than others. They can share their responses with a partner.

    Students need to be self-aware readers. The goal is to reinforce that good readers use a variety of ways to make meaning. The more strategies and tools we have, the more likely we can understand what we read.

Downloadable Resources 
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