Think-Aloud Strategies

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					      Improving Reading
Comprehension, Motivation, and
 Enjoyment Using Think-Aloud

        Mary Reger
      Mary Anne Jusko
• Why, after a semester of teaching
  reading strategies, are some students
  still not progressing in the areas of
  reading enjoyment and reading
• How can we continue our action
  research from first semester with the
  goal of improving our fourth and fifth
  grade students’ reading
  comprehension, motivation, and
• What new strategy can we implement
  this semester to boost our students to
  the next level of reading
  comprehension and enjoyment?
• We decided we wanted to try a new strategy to
  improve selected students’ reading
  comprehension and enjoyment. These students
  were not responding to strategies that had been
  regularly used in our classrooms.
• After reading the article The ABC’s of
  performing highly effective think-alouds (Cathy
  Collins Block and Susan E. Israel, Oct., 2004)
  The Reading Teacher, Vol. 58, No. 2., we chose
  the 12 think-aloud strategies to see if they would
  have an impact on our students’ comprehension
 12 Before,
During, and
       Explanation of BEFORE
         Reading Strategies
1-Overview the Text
• Step 1- how to select a good book
• Step 2- how to begin thinking about a book’s
• When you begin to read fiction books, read the
   first few paragraphs carefully to understand
   the setting, plot, and characters.
• When you begin to read non-fiction books,
   read the first few paragraphs. Which
   sentences were main idea sentences and
   which were details?
1-Look for Important Information
• The author gives clues to help you find the
  most important information.
• look for repeated words, restated ideas,
  words like: for example, to illustrate.
• Identify where an author places the main
  ideas in paragraphs
1-Connect to an Author’s Big Idea
• Relate pages, sections, and chapters to
  the main topic and main ideas. See how
  the main ideas are connected to the big
• Keep the title of the book in mind
1-Activate Relevant Knowledge
• After reading the first few pages, continue
  reading and thinking about experiences
  you have had that are very similar to the
  experiences in the book.
• Think about other books you’ve read and
  activities you’ve done that relate to this
1-Put Myself in the Book
• pretend that you are the main character
• put yourself in the environment of the non-
  fiction topic
 Explanation of DURING Reading
2-Revise Prior Knowledge and Predict
• expert readers revise their understanding
  and predict as they read in a continuous
  process throughout the entire reading
2-Recognize an Author’s Writing Style
• Step 1- recognize the depth of vocabulary that an author
  uses (dense, moderate, or low level of new vocabulary
  words introduced)
• Step 2 - recognize the complexity of sentences that an
  author uses (complex, compound, or simple)
• Step 3- recognize the length of paragraphs that an
  author uses. Skim the book to find the average length of
  the paragraphs, and see if that meets your needs as a
• Step 4 - recognize the frequency with which big ideas
  are introduced. Is it every paragraph, every 2 or 3
  paragraphs, or every 5 paragraphs?
• Step 5 - recognize how sentences and paragraphs are
  connected. Does the author use summary paragraphs
  after each big idea, or transition words to signal
  relationships between paragraphs. Look at subheadings
  and signal words.
2-Determine Word Meanings
                       Decode Using:
• structural analysis and context clues
• phonics
• sight words
• words that gain meaning from syntax or semantic
  relationships (context clues)
• words that are long and do not frequently occur unless
  the content relates directly to a specific theme (context-
  specific words)
• unusual words (detecting accent marks and foreign
  derivational clues)
• words when none of the above decoding processes
  unlock their meanings (e.g. how you know it’s time to
  ask a friend or teacher or to look the word up in a
2-Ask Questions
• expert readers ask themselves questions
  while they read
   Explanation of AFTER Reading
3-Notice Novelty in Text
• Expert readers reflect on an author’s ideas and how they
  are enhanced by a writer’s choice of words, genre, and
  individual flairs in writing style
• notice and use differences in genres’ formats to
  comprehend subtleties of meaning
• identify subtleties in word choices
• contrast how the textual features in a genre
  communicate meaning
• pretend you are telling the author the individual features
  in his or her writing style that you most appreciate as a
• go back to reread and develop a more complete
3-Relate the Book to My Life
• how to apply morals, themes, and subject
  content to your life
• 3-Anticipate Use of Knowledge
• anticipate when knowledge gained from
  one text can be used to comprehend a
  new book
• Choose students reading at or near grade level that
  were either unmotivated to read or displayed consistent
  weak comprehension skills.
• Send home parent consent letter
• Administer pre-survey to students
• Meet with reading groups for a three week period
• Teach, model, and practice the 12 before, during, and
  after reading, think a-loud strategies
• Keep anecdotal records during each 40 minute reading
• Administer post-survey
             Materials Used
• We used a variety of
  high interest non-
  fiction and fiction
  reading materials that
  would be appropriate
  for guided reading
• The reading levels
  were at the students’
  DRA instructional
  level or above.
Teaching, modeling, and practicing
 the 12 before, during, and after
  reading, think a-loud strategies
• Students were each given a set of think al-
  loud strategy flash cards and bookmarks
• Ms. Jusko and Mrs. Reger then took three
  reading periods to teach and model the
  before, during, and after think a-loud
  strategies using the flash cards and
       Ms. Jusko
Process and Observations

• The students I chose were just below grade level in reading
  comprehension, and were not progressing as expected within the
  regular reading classroom. 4 of the 5 students indicated they did
  not like reading, and few actually used think-aloud strategies or
  benefited from discussion with peers about their reading for various
  reasons including confidence, self-esteem, or behavior issues.
• The first three classes were devoted to teaching each strategy,
  modeling them, and then practicing with the teacher and with each
  other. After each practice session with teacher-chosen non-fiction
  articles and books, the students used their cards to review and
  practice the strategies. They were then sent to a quiet place on the
  carpet to read their choice of a literature short story silently. They
  were to think about their story before reading it, using their 1-
  (Before) cards.
• The next day, in group, the
  students shared how they used
  their before strategies. Then they
  chose a partner and used their
  think-aloud cards to discuss the 2-
  (During) and 3 - (After) strategies
  as they re-read the story together.
  They each took turns picking a
  card and sharing their thoughts
  with each other. As they finished,
  we met as a group to share our
  thoughts about the story. During
  this time, I worked with the 5th
  student, and we practiced our
  think-aloud strategies using the
  cards. We enjoyed the story
  together. This allowed me a way to    This anticipation guide is a sample of one of
  assess individual progress and re-    before reading strategies that our group used
  teach or clarify as necessary.        to activate prior knowledge about Ben
                                        Franklin and his inventions. As they were
• We continued reading student-         reading and after they read How Ben Franklin
  chosen articles and short stories     Stole the Lightning they continued to
  until their think-aloud strategies    complete the guide.
  were easily used by each student
  during the reading process. We
  worked for a total of 3 weeks on
  this project.
•   Each of the students made gains in several areas. Two more students
    now state they like reading, and all 5 students demonstrated ability to
    participate in a discussion about their reading with more confidence.
    The cards helped them guide their thinking and gave them a
    scaffolding that they needed to participate with more assurance.
•   As each day passed and the students’ discussion points progressed
    to higher levels of thinking and understanding, we all noticed that
    reading was suddenly fun! The teacher as well as the students looked
    forward to the next day’s session, and we also poured over our
    reading material with a renewed sense of interest and purpose.

•   Beginning first thing next fall, I will be giving each student a set of
    these 12 think-aloud strategy cards. The goal will be for each student
                               Mrs. Reger
                        Process and Observations
• In our guided reading group we had one teacher and six students,
  two boys and four girls. We were studying historical fiction and
  chose the book Meet Kit to read and practice our read a-loud
• We read chapter 1 out loud together and stopped after a few pages
  to learn the before reading strategies. We discussed and practiced
  each strategy. We continued reading chapter 1 the second day,
  stopping several times throughout the chapter to learn the during
  reading strategies. The students really enjoyed putting themselves
  into the book. The third day, after we were done reading chapter 1,
  we learned the after reading strategies. With a little scaffolding the
  students all came up with a good connection to their lives.
• I observed that the students had the most difficulty activating prior
  knowledge and understanding the big idea. I really had to scaffold
  to get them to understand that they did have prior knowledge to
  situations in the book. They knew only a little about the Great
  Depression, but they did know about families, friends, and helping
  people. Only one student was even close on understanding the big
  idea. This was one of my students who doesn’t like to read!
 • For chapter 2, I decided that I would have them read the chapter
     silently. After the first two pages we stopped to practice the before
     reading strategies. They didn’t seem to understand the big idea
     again, so we spent quite a bit of time on understanding what the
     big idea was.
 • We continued to read chapter 2 silently. I would listen to individual
     students read and would ask them questions. I realized that none of
     them were really comprehending the story. They seemed to be
     remembering the last detail they read and not able to see the big
     picture as they went.
 • I decided to have them read this chapter aloud and use the read
     aloud strategies as we went to help their comprehension. With a lot
     of scaffolding and modeling they were able to able to improve their
•The students really like making
connections. There is a scene in
the second chapter where Kit
opens the door to Sterling’s
bedroom and hits Sterling’s mom
with the door, causing a tea cup to
fall on the floor, breaking into many
• All six of the students were able to make a connection to this
  particular scene in the story. One boy told how he had gone up the
  stairs in his house and opened the door to the foyer, the door hit his
  sister who was carrying his dad’s favorite glass, knocking it out of
  her hand, spilling Coke all over, and breaking the glass. His dad got
  mad and yelled at him. He then ran off to his bedroom, slammed the
  door, and pouted.
• After we were finished with chapter 2, and seeing much
  improvement in comprehension, I assigned them to read chapter 3
  silently. I was actually gone the two days they had to read chapter
  3. I had left detailed instructions of what they should do. I had them
  work with a partner to talk about each of the strategies so they
  would be prepared to talk aloud as a group when I returned. They
  were to write a summary that included the big picture and a
  prediction for the next chapter. For every chapter they also wrote
  vocabulary words they did not understand, including the page it was
  on in the chapter.
• Upon my return we met as a group and I checked their summaries
  and predictions. Five out of six got the big picture! They had
  followed the directions and improved!
 • When we got together as a group we went through the strategies.
    The modeling and intense practice from chapter 2 had really helped
    them to understand the big idea and comprehend the important parts
    of the story. When we were done practicing the strategies we played
    a game where we would put the 12 strategy cards on the table and
    each student would pick one and use the strategy that was on the
    card. One girl picked the card that says, “Look for important
    information.” She was able to say that one important part was that
    Charlie told Kit that their dad had closed his car dealership because
    no one was buying cars because of the lack of money during the
    The one and recognizing the
 • in the textarea they continued to have trouble with is noticing novelty
   author’s writing style. I plan to
   find short examples of different
   types of text to demonstrate
   both novelty in the text and
   author’s writing style.
• They seemed to make the most
   improvement in recognizing the
   author’s big idea and asking
• These strategies proved to be useful in improving the comprehension
  of my students. I plan to continue using them next year also. Even
  though two of my students still say they don’t like to read they did
  admit that discussing what they read with peers and the teacher is
  more enjoyable. It has great advantages for the teacher too because
  she knows exactly what they students are thinking and how they are
  comprehending what they read. The small guided reading groups
  are excellent for these strategies because the students can talk more
  and most feel less intimidated in a small group. These are strategies
  that I will definitely make a part of my guided reading instruction.
Do You Like to Read?
When You Read, Do You Understand
     What You Are Reading?
When You Read, Do You Understand
     What You Are Reading?
What Do You Do When You’re Reading and
      You Don’t Know Something?
What Do You Do When You’re Reading and
      You Don’t Know Something?
Do You Use Think-Aloud Strategies
Before, During, and After Reading?
Which Think-Aloud Strategies Do You Use to
  Help You Understand When You Read?
Which Think-Aloud Strategies Do You Use to Help
       You Understand When You Read?
What Do You Need to Do to
Become a Better Reader?
What Do You Need to Do to
Become a Better Reader?
• Two more students now like to read
• Most of students felt they understood what they
  were reading most of the time. However, after
  using the strategies they realized they were
  lacking in understanding what they read and
  unable to defend their thoughts.
• Most of the students, when asked what do you
  do when you come to something you don’t
  know, continued to use re-reading, sounding
  out, and asking strategies
              Results, con’t.
• Three more students used think a-loud
  strategies after learning these think a-loud
  strategies by name and function.
• The largest increase in usage of strategy
  occurred in connect to the author’s big idea and
  activate relevant knowledge.
• To become better readers, six more students
  wanted to learn more strategies
• Genres most preferred were: magazines,
  mysteries, Internet articles, realistic fiction,
  science literature, and animal stories.
• We will begin the school year with teaching a few of the strategies
  at a time. All of the strategies are important, but time is needed to
  teach, model and practice each one discreetly.
• We will build our classroom libraries with more non-fiction choices
  and subscriptions to science magazines.
• We will have Internet articles and sites bookmarked on our
  classroom computers available for frequent student use.
• Comprehension and enjoyment both improved with the use of the
  12 think-aloud strategies.
• All students shared that they enjoyed discussing what they read
  with peers and their teacher. One student even said, “I changed my
  whole opinion about reading.” She now likes to read, and has the
  strategies to help her succeed.

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