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Inner Voice


Effective readers do not just passively decode words on a page, instead they engage actively with a text, thinking and wondering about the form and content of what they are reading.  This ongoing thought process can be considered a learner’s “inner voice,” and students benefit from helping their inner voice to become more active, refined, and accessible.


By consciously holding an inner “conversation” with a text, students are able to process concepts deeply as they read, so that they come away from a reading with an accurate and rich understanding of a text.  Students are able to catch lapses in understanding immediately, so that they can attempt to amend them promptly and deliberately.

Content Area Adaptations 

Students should be using inner voice whenever they are consuming a text, including an audio or visual text.  Content area teachers as well as English teachers should teach, model, and create opportunities to practice drawing out inner voice when students are reading texts of any type, watching films, or listening to recordings or lectures.  For example, a student reading a science textbook should be thinking actively about the meaning of the content, its relation to prior material, and its application in real life, or thinking about how the text relates to a larger posed question such as what author’s perspective might be.  A student watching a documentary in a history class should be asking him/herself questions such as “What does this mean?  Does this make sense to me? Do I agree?  How well does this fit with what I already know?  What am I confused about?”  By mindfully and explicitly making use of inner voice across the curriculum, students develop their metacognition and become more independent and purposeful learners.

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Metacognition

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Speaking

Author Says, I Say, So

This activity provides a highly structured way for students to identify, organize, and process their reactions to a text. It facilitates students’ ability to react meaningfully to a text, and then to draw logical conclusions based both on their opinions and on the information in the text.

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Reflection

Interrupted Conversation

In this activity, students read aloud in pairs and take turns interrupting the reading to have a conversation with a text. The paired oral reading format scaffolds students’ efforts to “talk with” a text by creating a more naturalistic conversational setting.

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Synthesis