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"Think-Aloud"

What is it?

"Think-alouds" (Davey, 1983) help students understand the kind of thinking required by a specific task. The teacher models her thinking process by verbalizing her thoughts as she reads, processes information, or performs some learning task. Students see how the teacher attempts to construct meaning for unfamiliar vocabulary, engages in dialogue with the author, or recognizes when she isn't comprehending and selects a fix-up strategy that addresses a problem she is having. Ineffective readers especially benefit from observing what skilled readers think about while reading.

How to use it:

1. Explain that reading is a complex process that involves thinking and sense-making; the skilled reader's mind is alive with questions she asks herself in order to understand what she reads.

2. Select a passage to read aloud that contains points that students might find difficult, unknown vocabulary terms, or ambiguous wording. Develop questions you can ask yourself that will show what you think as you confront these problems while reading.

3. While students read this passage silently, read it aloud. As you read, verbalize your thoughts, the questions you develop, and the process you use to solve comprehension problems. It is helpful if you alter the tone of your voice, so students know when you are reading and at what points you begin and end thinking aloud.

4. Coping strategies you can model include:

    · Making predictions or hypotheses as you read: "From what he's said so far, I'll bet that the author is going to give some examples of poor eating habits."

    · Describing the mental pictures you " see" : "When the author talks about vegetables I should include in my diet, I can see our salad bowl at home filled with fresh, green spinach leaves."

    · Demonstrating how you connect this information with prior knowledge: "'Saturated fat'? I know I've heard that term before. I learned it last year when we studied nutrition."

    · Creating analogies: "That description of clogged arteries sounds like traffic clogging up the interstate during rush hour."

    · Verbalizing obstacles and fix-up strategies: "Now what does 'angiogram' mean? Maybe if I reread that section, I'll get the meaning from the other sentences around it: I know I can't skip it because it's in bold-faced print, so it must be important. If I still don't understand, I know I can ask the teacher for help,"

5 . Have students work with partners to practice "think-alouds" when reading short passages of text. Periodically revisit this strategy or have students complete the assessment that follows so these metacomprehension skills become second nature.

Examples of Visual Representations: Think-Aloud Assessment

While I was reading, how much did I use these "think-aloud strategies? Not much A little Most of
the time
All of the
time
Making and revising predictions . . . .
Forming mental pictures . . . .
Connecting what I read to what I already know . . . .
Creating analogies . . . .
Verbalizing confusing points . . . .
Using fix-up strategies . . . .

How could think-alouds be used in mathematics instruction?

Think-alouds provide opportunities for teachers to model how to explore mathematics text. This might include previewing a chapter by looking at titles, subtitles, graphic organizers, and pictures to get an overall view of what the chapter is going to be about. It might include making predictions, creating mental pictures, connecting information to prior knowledge, creating analogies, and verbalizing obstacles as well as strategies to overcome these obstacles while reading mathematics material.

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How could think- alouds be used in social studies instruction?

Think-alouds provide opportunities for teachers to model how to delve into social studies text. This might include previewing a chapter by looking at titles, subtitles, graphic organizers, and pictures to get an overall view of what the chapter is going to be about. It might include making predictions, creating mental pictures, connecting information to prior knowledge, creating analogies, and verbalizing obstacles as well as strategies to overcome obstacles while reading social studies materials.

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How could think-alouds be used in science instruction?

Think-alouds provide opportunities for teachers to model how to explore science text. This might include previewing a chapter by looking at titles, subtitles, graphic organizers, and pictures to get an overall view of what the chapter is going to be about. It might include making predictions, creating mental pictures, connecting information to prior knowledge, creating analogies, and verbalizing obstacles as well as strategies to overcome obstacles while reading science material.

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