Best Practices - Teaching Strategies

Explicit Instruction - Think Aloud

in literacy instruction, “a metacognitive technique of strategy in which the reader verbalizes aloud while reading a selection orally, thus modeling the process of comprehension” (Davey, 1983).

The purpose of the Think Aloud Strategy is to help readers think about how they make meaning.  As students read, they pause occasionally to think aloud about connections they are making, images they are creating, problems with understanding that they are encountering, and ways they see of fixing those problems. This oral thinking not only helps the teacher understand why or how a student is having difficulty with a text, but also allows the student to analyze how he is thinking about his reading.  This type of metacognitive practice builds independence in reading. (Beers)
Metacomprehension means that a reader engages in "self-monitoring" and realizes whether or not understanding is taking place during reading. With this realization comes the ability to deliberately shift strategies in order to facilitate comprehension. A strategy called Think Aloud models five types of reflections by sharing the following types of thoughts aloud.

Directions for the Think Aloud Strategy

Read a portion of the text and talk about your thinking by clarifying, connecting, visualizing, inferring, commenting or asking questions. 

Predict by using the title, pictures, and opening sentences. "I believe this part will be about _____."

Describe the picture that is forming internally. "I see _____."

Make analogies by linking prior knowledge to new information. "This situation is like _____."

Verbalize confusion by pretending lack of understanding. "This doesn't make sense to me. I'm not certain what the author is suggesting."

Model strategies to assist with decoding or comprehension. "I'd better read this part again;" or, "Perhaps if I read this section aloud, I will understand it better;" or, "If I think about the way we talk, I may be able to read this sentence better."

Demonstration: Read the passage and model. As you read aloud, verbalize your thoughts and questions. It is helpful if you adjust the tone of your voice so that students can distinguish when you are reading from when you are thinking aloud more easily.

Student practice with support. Have students work with partners to practice "think-alouds" using short passages of text.

Student practice independently.

Building Reading Comprehension Through Think-Alouds (lesson plans)

Think Aloud Bookmark


How could I use, adapt or differentiate it? 
(scroll to the bottom of the site)

Interview with Jeff Wilhelm
Listen as Jeff explains how he models think-aloud strategies with his students.

Research base:

Effect of Think Alouds on Literal and Higher-order Reading Comprehension. By: Ghaith, Ghazi. Educational Research Quarterly, Jun2003, Vol. 26 Issue 4, p13, 9p, 3 charts; (AN 10672157)

Students' Strategic Use of Multiple Sources during Expository Text Reading: A Longitudinal Think-Aloud Study. Stromso, Helge I.; Braten, Ivar; Samuelstuen, Marit S.; Cognition and Instruction, v21 n2 p113-47 2003 (EJ672007)

Davey, B. (1983). “Think Aloud: Modeling the Cognitive Processes of Reading Comprehension  Journal of Reading, 27 pp.44 –4

Olshavsky, J. E. (1976-77). “Reading as Problem-Solving: An Investigation of Strategies.” Reading Research Quarterly, 12, pp.654-674.

Harst, Short, & Burke, 1988

CRCSD Language Arts "Wiki"

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