Strategy 3: Think-Aloud

You can help students become strategic readers and problem solvers by modeling the thinking you use to make sense of a problem. As students listen to the questions you ask yourself and the ways you guide your own reading, they learn to ask themselves questions to guide their own sense-making.

The “think-aloud” process is usually introduced in four steps, gradually transferring responsibility to students:

  1. The teacher reads a problem and stops as needed to explain her thoughts. Students listen. They all solve the problem together.
  2. The teacher reads the problem and stops often. Students express their thoughts at each point (and often write them). The whole class, led by the teacher, solves the problem together.
  3. The teacher reads the problem, allowing students to signal stopping points as thoughts occur to them. Students solve the problem individually, and then discuss their interpretations of it and solution strategies.
  4. Students do this together, in pairs. They work together to solve the problem.

Try it: Use this problem with a partner to try the first and second steps in the think-aloud process.

The boys swim team and the girls swim team held a car wash. They made $210 altogether. There were twice as many girls as boys, so they decided to give the girls’ team twice as much money as the boys’ team. How much did each team get?

A benefit of this strategy for students who need additional support is that they also listen to the thinking of their classmates, enabling them to learn additional strategies from each other.