Teacher Think-Aloud

Students of all ages

  • Comprehension
  • Monitor comprehension
  • Use context clues
  • Apply repair strategies
  • Metacognitive skills

Examples of teacher think-alouds

Example 1 (appropriate for lower elementary students)


Excerpt from Reading Milestones, Yellow Level 3, Book 10, The Gold PrincessPage 71: The illustration shows a gold castle with gold dragons in front of it. The king is walking toward the castle with a gold flower in his hand and is saying, “My flowers are different. They are real gold.”

Text: A king lived in a large, gold castle. The castle was by a river near the mountains. (Oh yes, I can see the river and mountains in the illustration.) Two gold dragons stood by the castle and many flowers grew near the castle. (Dragons? What are dragons? I’ll look at the illustration and see if that helps me. Oh yes–I see two gold animals by the gold castle. They must be dragons.)

Page 72: The illustration shows the princess playing with her pet goat in the flowers in front of the castle.

Text: The king had a pretty daughter. His daughter was a princess. (Princess? I’m not sure what a princess is. I’m going back to the beginning of the page to read it again. Maybe it will tell me something.)

[Teacher reads the first sentence again and says, “Oh, I understand now. A princess is a king’s daughter. Oh yes, look at the illustration. She is wearing a crown.“]

The princess had a pet and her pet was a tiny goat. (A goat? What is a goat? I don’t know what a goat is. I’ll look at the illustration–a goat must be that tiny animal that is playing with the princess!) The princess had fun with her tiny goat. They danced in the flowers.

Example 2 (appropriate for upper elementary and above)

Excerpt from Reading Bridge, Level 1, Book 1, Gull Island

Page 9: When Jason and Jenny were walking on the dock, they noticed that the weather had become colder and the wind was getting stronger. (I think that is a clue. I think the weather is going to change.) But Jason wasn’t worried. It was only a thirty-minute round trip, and he thought that he would soon be back in his nice, warm home. (Hmmm–I think the weather is going to change and something is going to happen. I think maybe Jason should be worried!)

Jason and Jenny climbed into the boat, and Jason tried to start the engine. The engine ground away… (What does that mean…ground away? I’ll read on and see if I get a clue.) The engine ground away but didn’t start. (Oh, now I understand. I think “ground away” describes the noise an engine makes when something’s wrong with it. Oh, oh…I think Jason is going to have a problem.) Jason tried again. This time the engine started, and they were ready to go. They had gone only a short distance when suddenly the wind gusted and began blowing very strongly. (I think a storm is coming–I think Jason and Jenny are in trouble!) The waves grew bigger and lapped against the boat. The spray from the waves blew into the boat, and Jason and Jenny were getting wet. The sky grew as dark as night, and the clouds looked thick and heavy. (I was right…they are in trouble! I think a big storm is coming and Jason and Jenny are in danger!)

Strategy steps:

  1. Teacher selects a text that provides opportunities for clear demonstrations of how to comprehend and monitor comprehension.
    1. Give students a copy of the text and have them read or skim it.
    2. Explain to the students what you are going to do and why. (Talk through how you understand what you read so they can model what you do and become better readers.)
  2. Read aloud and describe how you are comprehending and monitoring your comprehension.
  3. Model comprehension and comprehension monitoring several times.
  4. Ask students as you are thinking aloud, “What did I read to make me think that?
    1. For example, in the Jason and Jenny excerpt, they would respond: “You think Jason and Jenny are in danger because the book says the wind is blowing very hard, the sky is very dark, and the clouds are thick and heavy. There’s probably going to be a big storm.
  5. After several demonstrations, the students practice thinking aloud as they read.
    1. Reading partners can read to each other and “think aloud” as they read.