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How We WIN

By Kristy King, director of the Learning Resource Center
The director of the Learning Resource Center speaks to how students expand their language, experience, curiosity and metacognition.
“I’m wondering. I’m thinking. I’m feeling.” These are just a few of the sentence-starters fourth graders use when engaging in book talks during their weekly WIN time. WIN stands for “What I Need” and provides students the opportunity to explore a variety of academic and social-emotional areas. 

I have the privilege of witnessing our students develop a joy of reading. As we explore classic stories such as The Three Questions by John Muth and picture books, including Drawn Together by Minh Le, students use their visual understanding to make the connection that there is so much meaning in the “unsaid.” The beauty of a book talk is that it allows students the space to explore new genres and morals of stories, ponder events and characters, infer, and make connections to themselves, the world and other texts. The true excitement emerges when they see how the stories relate to themselves personally. When they can make these connections, the language and lessons embedded take on a new meaning and increase engagement in the conversation. 
 
After going through the book talk process multiple times, students take their understanding to the next level by engaging in the same questions and applying them to their personal experiences. This elevated discussion bridges the gap to metacognitive awareness. Metacognition is being aware of what you know and using that knowledge to help you learn. Exploring one’s metacognitive skills fosters the development of independent learning, allows for tangible improvements, helps one manage time efficiently, and reduces stress and anxiety. 

Naming what a student understands and where they need more support empowers them to take responsibility for their learning. Watching the “ah-ha” moments unfold and seeing how students recognize their unique ideas are a gift.
 
While I share my experience with book talks in the fourth grade, this is a process that is essential for all of our students as they embrace classics and new novels while moving through Middle and Upper School. Encouraging engagement with literature expands language, experience, curiosity and metacognition. One student said it perfectly after the book talk for The Three Questions when he asked, “Did we just learn the meaning of life?” The magic in that moment cannot be recreated, only treasured for its beauty. In the end, we all did win.
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