Back to Basics: Think Alouds

Welcome to our Back to Basics series! In this series we explore some of the foundational methods, practices and terminology for teaching reading. This series is for those new to the field of literacy, beginning tutors or those who would just like a refresher. This week we are discussing another comprehension strategy: think alouds. 

Think alouds, or a think-aloud strategy, is a way for literacy tutors to model the comprehension strategies they use while reading. When tutors reveal their own inner dialogue, learners can see how fluent readers think about the text they’re reading and problem solve as they read. Students can then practice this method with their tutor. It helps students to learn how to learn. Think alouds can help with any emerging reader at any age.

“Your goal with think alouds is to provide less savvy readers with a play-by-play of what you – as a skilled reader – think while reading.” – Dr. Molly Ness

The teacher begins by modeling the think-aloud strategy. The teacher will read through a text, pausing every so often to speak about what the text brought to mind and questions that arose. They also discuss what they are doing in order to understand the text they are reading. A good method for think alouds is using the “I do, we do, you do” method. After demonstrating thinking aloud, the teacher would have the learner help with the next think aloud reading, and when they have a good grasp on the strategy, the learner will be able to do it alone.

Think alouds can model comprehension processes such as:

  • making predictions
  • creating images
  • linking information in text with existing knowledge
  • monitoring comprehension
  • overcoming problems with word recognition or comprehension

Think alouds can be used an an effective assessment strategy to pinpoint the learner’s strengths and weaknesses. Through a lot of practice and guidance using think alouds, learners will develop these essential reading comprehension skills. The resources below will help guide you through the think-aloud strategy and offer ideas for how to implement it in your teaching.

Check out the excellent four part video series produced by Partners in Reading – San Jose Public Library on think alouds:


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