Content Literacy 101

Think-Aloud/Modeling (From "Content Area Reading and Writing")

"During think-alouds, readers describe their thoughts as they form meanings through interaction with the text. The think-aloud provides a view of cognitive processes that readers use to make sense of what they are reading." 

Why use it?
By demonstrating or modeling a think-aloud, you can show students the strategies that you use as a "good reader:" activating background knowledge, making predictions, forming mental images, monitoring comprehension progress, and fixing problems as they arise. It helps demystify the reading process for students, and shows them that good readers think while they read.  

How do I use it?

Step 1: "If you have not demonstrated the think-aloud process with your students, you can introduce this strategy to them with a challenging text for you...Use a selection that is semantically and syntactically demanding in your field but that is also one with which you are comfortable. Give a copy of the text to your students. As you are doing the think-aloud, have your students take notes on the process. When you've finished, conduct a class 
discussion focused on what you did and said during the think-aloud."

Step 2: "Select a passage of about 200 words for [your] student[s] that is new to them and is at the instructional level. It should challenge but not overwhelm the reader. You should pre-read the passage and identify one or more sentence chunks of text with stop points." 

Step 3: "Explain to the reader[s] that the passage will be read in segments marked with stop-points and that at those points [they] will explain what meaning has been gained from the text. Warn the reader that you may ask a few questions, such as "What do you think this is about?" to encourage the development of text-based hypotheses."

Step 4: "After the think-aloud is complete, talk with the student[s] about what [they] observed and learned from doing a think-aloud."

Step 5: During the discussion, check to see if the reader:
  • formulates hypotheses
  • provides information to support the hypotheses generated
  • draws upon background knowledge and makes inter-textual connections
  • uses strategies, such as rereading, to cope with breakdowns in comprehensions
  • uses strategies to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words
  • notices inconsistencies between interpretations and the text base
  • understands the gist of the passage

(Taken from: "Doing a Comprehension Think-Aloud" in Content Area Reading and Writing)