When To Use This Strategy
Appropriate Group Size
Why use think-alouds?
- It helps students learn to monitor their thinking as they read and improves their comprehension.
- It teaches students to re-read a sentence, read ahead to clarify, and/or look for context clues to make sense of what they read.
- It slows down the reading process and allows students to monitor their understanding of a text.
How to use think-alouds
- Begin by modeling this strategy. Model your thinking as you read. Do this at points in the text that may be confusing for students (new vocabulary, unusual sentence construction).
- Introduce the assigned text and discuss the purpose of the Think-Aloud strategy. Develop the set of questions to support thinking aloud (see examples below).
- What do I know about this topic?
- What do I think I will learn about this topic?
- Do I understand what I just read?
- Do I have a clear picture in my head about this information?
- What more can I do to understand this?
- What were the most important points in this reading?
- What new information did I learn?
- How does it fit in with what I already know?
- Give students opportunities to practice the technique, and offer structured feedback to students.
- Read the selected passage aloud as the students read the same text silently. At certain points stop and “think aloud” the answers to some preselected questions.
- Demonstrate how good readers monitor their understanding by rereading a sentence, reading ahead to clarify, and/or looking for context clues. Students then learn to offer answers to the questions as the teacher leads the think-aloud.
Download blank template
Watch: Think-alouds: modeling ways to think about text
A teacher think-aloud is an effective technique to model how to use comprehension strategies before, during, and after reading. (From the Balanced Literacy Diet: Putting Research into Practice in the Classroom)
Several examples of how teachers can use think-alouds to point out connections between prior experiences and stories, and relationships between a story and a larger concept are provided in this article. See example ›
This website explores the use of the think-aloud strategy with poetry. See example ›
For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, and younger learners
- Have students do think-alouds in large or small groups; teacher and other students monitor and help.
- Ask students do think-alouds individually, and then compare with others. Students can write their own commentary.
- Complete, or have students complete, think-alouds orally, in writing, on an overhead, with Post-it notes, or in a journal.
See the research that supports this strategy
Conner, J. (2004). Using Think-Alouds to Improve Reading Comprehension.
Davey, B. (1983). Think-aloud: Modeling the cognitive processes of reading comprehension. Journal of Reading, 27(1), 44-47.
Gold, J., & Gibson, A. (2001). Reading Aloud to Build Comprehension.
Olshavsky, J. E. (1977). Reading as problem-solving: An Investigation of Strategies. Reading Research Quarterly, 12(4), 654-674.
Wilhelm, J. D. (2001). Improving Comprehension with Think-Aloud Strategies. New York: Scholastic Inc.