Thinking aloud is a time tested instructional strategy that helps students learn how to monitor their own thinking as they read an assigned passage. They are directed by a series of questions which they think about and answer aloud while reading. This process reveals how much they understand a text.
A teacher needs to model this strategy for the students first. She needs to model her thinking as she reads by identifying points in the text that may be confusing for students, e.g., new vocabulary, unusual sentence construction, etc. The teacher begins by reading the selected passage aloud as the students read the same text silently. At certain points, the teacher stops and thinks aloud and answers some of the pre-selected questions. Here are some of the questions to help support thinking aloud.
- 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 have I learnt?
- How does it fit in with what I already know?
The teacher can also use cues like, So far I have learned …, I think the most important part was …, This made me think of ….
As students get used to this technique they learn to generate their own questions to guide comprehension. Teachers should let students practice the technique, either in pairs, small groups or individually; and offer structured feedback to students. Think alouds may also be used to assess a student’s strengths and weaknesses as they engage in a mental process. Teachers can listen in as students walk through the steps of a process they are using, and this will help assess the strategies the student is using. This allows the teacher to pinpoint if the student is using the strategy effectively and what they need to work on.
Contributor: Sonali Bhattacharyya