The Missouri Reader Vol. 43, Issue 1 | Page 9



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Thinking Aloud to Build Students’ Comprehension


Molly Ness



teachers are, in fact, actively monitoring and guiding students through careful use of assessment that informs the learning activities. “When teachers coach children to apply flexible strategies during their reading and writing activities, children learn problem-solving processes with generative value for working out new problems” (Dorn & Soffos, 2001, p. 5).

The risk of making mistakes should not curtail learning. Guidance through acts of problem-solving will enable a student to develop deeper levels of skill and understanding of concepts. “Higher-level development occurs as a result of the problem-solving attempts. Neural growth happens because of the process, not the solution” (Dorn & Jones, 2012, p. 27).

Literacy instruction as advocated by Dorn is varied, active, even fun, but also intellectually rigorous. “In a well-balanced literacy program, teachers create flexible and varied opportunities for children to work at both assisted and independent levels. In whole group assisted events, teachers will have to make compromises in their instruction, that is, teach to the instructional needs of the class majority. During small group reading and writing events, teachers can provide students with focused instruction that is aimed at the strengths and needs of a similar population. During reading and writing conferences, teachers are able to provide intensive support that is personalized for the individual student. Through these diverse instructional settings, children receive varying degrees of teacher assistance on related types of tasks.” (Dorn & Soffos, 2001, p. 9).

This is a time to grieve but also a time to celebrate. The legacy of Linda lives in all those reading this. It lives in her former students. It lives in teachers and in colleagues inspired by her work. It lives in her friends whose lives she so deeply touched. The torch has been passed. The rest is up to each of us.


Dorn, L.J. & Jones, T. (2012). Apprenticeship in literacy: Transitions across reading and writing, K-4 (Second Edition). Portland, Maine: Stenhouse.

Dorn, L.J. & Soffos, C. (2001). Shaping literate minds: Developing self-regulated learners. Portland, Maine: Stenhouse.

Connie Choate was a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader in Arkansas, apprenticed by Dr. Dorn at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and director of Arkansas Reading First.

Tammy Jones is a co-author of Apprenticeship in Literacy: Transitions Across Reading and Writing with Dr. Dorn. She was in the first Reading Recovery class and the first Reading Recovery Teacher Leader Class in Arkansas, apprenticed by Dr. Dorn.

Dr. Bill Kerns is Assistant Professor of Education with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate coursework. . His university teaching specialties are in the areas of English language arts, literacy, assessment, and philosophical foundations of education.


Kathy Heagwood - It was never about her, but always helping others be better. Literacy has lost a true champion

Rachel Gabriel-- I love this quote from Shaping Literate Minds,

" Teachers must hold a flexible theory-one that can be reshaped and refined according to what children are showing us as they engage in the process of learning."

Links to in memorium posts for Linda Dorn