Adventures in Literacy Land: Think Aloud

Showing posts with label Think Aloud. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Think Aloud. Show all posts

Using the Think Aloud Process in Five Easy Steps

If you have struggling readers who seem to be word callers, than this post is for you. Check out how the Think Aloud Process can help you scaffold instruction for your students in this post.

Do you get blank looks sometimes when you ask a question? Maybe you get through a full explanation for activities and have that one student raise his/her hand to ask, "So what are we going to do?"  Well, you do not need to look far for a meme of what the teacher's look would be, do you?  I think we'd all agree that we want our students to be...
  • Active listeners
  • Engaged with deep thinking
  • Working with purpose
  • Attentive to detail, and...
  • Strategic with their reading
In other words, students need to think while they are reading or listening to reading. This isn't an automatic process for some of our little people (hence the blank stare image above), BUT, it can become automatic with scaffolding through the process.

Why is the Think Aloud Process Important?

The Think Aloud Process is a teaching strategy used to model how readers think as they read. In order to appropriately demonstrate Think Aloud, teachers need to use it with every text they share with students. This is a must because thinking as we read is critical to comprehension, and when the focus of reading a text is solely on reading accurately and decoding, then what we create are students who become word callers. That said, we know that there are multiple skills required for successful reading and that readers work through a channel of reading skills to reach the instructional reader stage. Here is a visual model to show that process.
Beginning readers learn the alphabet and sounds, learn to track print accurately, develop a sight vocabulary, and work through text to read the words on their own. Once they are able to do this, they become transitional readers. Transitional readers focus on developing fluency as they build vocabulary, comprehension skills, and continue working on decoding larger words. Once they are able to read on their own silently, the focus shifts to deeper comprehension and vocabulary development. Throughout this process, Think Aloud is a tool that scaffolds our readers to be able to independently think as readers as skills are achieved.

How Does the Think Aloud Process Work?

To model thinking aloud for your students, the first step is to choose a text with points that can be discussed. Prior to reading the book to your students, go through the text with a post it pad and pen. Mark the places where you want to pause and share your observations and thinking. Note-it is very, very important for the students to also see and work with the text. You can project the book with an Elmo or take photos prior to sharing. There are many books shared on Youtube also, so you may check to see if a title you are planning to use is available there. 

Once your talking points are identified and you've secured a way for your students to access the text, it is time to demonstrate. For my students, I will often use a column notes organizer like the image to the left. This organizer is for the book, Snowflake Bentley. As you share the book with your students, you want them to use all text features including illustrations, captions, sidebars, and the context of the text as the evidence of their thinking, so be sure to ask key questions directed to those features. 

Some students work well with a visual cue of what they are to think as they're reading. This bookmark helps students trigger that thinking and reminds them of the language we as teachers have used.

Once you have modeled with Snowflake Bentley or a book of your choice, you have to provide an opportunity for practice. Choose another book on a similar theme or one that will extend your lesson, and pair students for the reading experience. "Elbow Partners" are great for talking out our thinking. During this part, provide the bookmark or sticky notes that students can use in their discussion. 

The final tip I have is to make sure that you repeat this activity often with new texts. If students have trouble, you may need to stop and model thinking aloud again for students, but you can also direct the thinking with deep questions.

I hope this walk through of the process shows how it can be used with any text. It is so so valuable for our struggling readers. 

You can access this freebie using the image below. 

Although this is the process, it does not stop there. The final step is to have your students reflect on what they've taken away from the reading. This helps our students recognize the importance of using all aspects of the reading process and to understand what good readers do to be good readers. In my teaching, I always seize an opportunity to write, and having students reflect on this as they write may provide the teacher with a window into the students' thinking. 

Until next month, happy reading AND thinking!

If you have struggling readers who seem to be word callers, than this post is for you. Check out how the Think Aloud Process can help you scaffold instruction for your students in this post. Freebie included.
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