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*Promoting Higher Level Thinking

La Grange District 102 Talent Development Program

Dr. Randy Lange, Program Coordinator 708-215-7123

“To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” -Mother Teresa

Promoting Higher Level Thinking in Reading

1. Making inferences is a key skill that good readers exhibit. An inference is when a student

uses what he/she knows to make a guess about something unknown in the text. This can be viewed as reading between the lines. Good readers who make inferences use the clues in the text along with their own experiences to help them figure out what is not directly stated. A few inferential questions could be ...

*Why do you think the character did __________________? How do you know? *What must have happened here that the author didn’t tell us? *What emotions is the character feeling? How do you know? *Why do you think __________________? *How does the author feel about __________________?

2. Quality literature has important messages to convey. Some questions to ponder and

discuss ... What is this telling us that is important today? What should a reader walk away from after reading this?

3. Aligning a text with a universal theme and its generalizations is powerful. Some

examples of universal themes are: change, community, conflict, exploration, force, order, patterns, power, structure, and systems. For a theme to be effective for students, they must have generalizations linked to them. Here are some related generalizations. Families can create logical generalizations. I would recommend keeping the number of generalizations to 4 or 5. A question for students to consider is ... How is what you read an example of these generalizations?


Change generates more change Change can be good or bad Change is necessary for growth


Conflict is composed of opposing forces Conflict can be natural or human-made Conflict can be intentional or unintentional


Power is the ability to influence Power can be used or abused Power can take many forms

4. The Center for Gifted Education at the College of William & Mary created some key foci to

consider when analyzing a piece of literature. One is that good readers are capable of identifying and defending key words. Key words are words that are important to the text as a whole. Questions for students can include ... What were some words or phrases that you really liked or thought were really important? Why did the author choose to use that word or phrase? Which words did you find interesting or exciting? What are some words that support the overall message of what you read? It is important to note that a key word does not have to be a sophisticated word or term. Authors/poets can use basic words in very powerful or meaningful ways.

5. The Center also stresses the ability to form images as you read. Questions for students

might be ... What were some pictures that came to your mind as you read? What from the story/poem helps to create that image? What are some things that can have more than one meaning? (This is referred to as symbolism. For example, colors often play a role in stories. Usually, they represent emotions like love, anger, or sadness. Fire can represent anger, passion, love, pain, or death.)

6. Concept development is the final area addressed here. Concepts can either be concrete

or abstract, and good readers should be able to identify both types. The former can be seen, touched, heard, tasted, or smelled. Some examples are – dogs, weather, and hamburgers. Abstract concepts can be thought about, but we cannot use our senses to recognize them. Abstract concepts have to be experienced or compared to something else we already know. Literature is a great source of abstract concepts. Imagination, friendship, freedom, and jealousy are some examples of abstract concepts that might appear in literature. Good readers should be able to identify these types of concepts as well as provide evidence from the story that supports them. Quality literature, especially novels, can include several abstract concepts.

There is a lot of power in having literature discussions at home. These six areas outlined above are intended to take students past basic comprehension of a piece of literature. Because of time and outside of school commitments, it might be difficult to read a novel as a family. Poems, short stories, and folklore are shorter and provide excellent springboards to target these six suggestions.

Although there is value to targeting the high end of your child’s lexile band, there are many picture books that could be used to support the suggestions to promote high level thinking. There is a lot of information on lexile bands on-line. Public libraries tend to have this type of information on books as well as ideas for possible titles of interest.

“Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought with ardor and attended to with diligence.”

-Abigail Adams

Drafted by R Lange 11/15/17