Thinking Aloud Essay

1441 words - 6 pages

Thinking Aloud

Reading comprehension may be the most important skill for any student to acquire and is therefore an area of particular interest to educators. Without adequate comprehension skills, students are limited in their reading, analytical and occupational abilities. To many, including the student’s themselves, comprehension or “good reading” skills begin and end with simple decoding. It is thought that if students can ‘read’ and define the vocabulary they are reading, then they also comprehend what is read. True comprehension goes far beyond decoding, however. True comprehension requires visualization of a text, predicting events in the text, making inferences about the text and clarifying what is not understood about the text in order to lead to higher level thought processes such as personally connecting with the text. Reluctant, beginning or low-skilled readers often do not have the ability to visualize, predict, inference or clarify what they are reading and so they do not truly comprehend what the text is or what it means. Too often, these readers do not understand that “good readers” go through a series of mental processes in order to comprehend the text in ways which the low-level readers never even imagined. As educators, it is our job to show reluctant, beginning or low-skilled readers what these processes are and how they work in an attempt to boost the self-confidence and independence of these readers. One excellent way to set about this is through a strategy called a “Think Aloud”.

The “Think Aloud” strategy is a teaching strategy which goes beyond teacher lecturing and is actually an exchange between teacher and student. First, the teacher demonstrates and encourages the use of Think Aloud and then passes off that skill to the reader. The goal is that the student will observe and adopt the Think Aloud strategy and use it on his/ her own in a variety of texts and in a variety of settings because it has given the student tangible results which he/ she can use. “The think-aloud strategy is a technique in which students verbalize their thoughts as they read and thus bring into open the strategies they are using to understand a text” (Oster 64). The idea is to engage the student into talking through their mental thoughts and processes, writing these things down so that the student is left with a record of what the text was about, what they think will happen, some key inferences they have made and the questions they have about the text. Wilhelm tells us that, “think-alouds make invisible mental processes visible to children” (26). These invisible mental processes are those which children deemed as “good” or “independent readers” engage in on an almost constant basis but which low-skilled or “dependent” readers either do not engage in or do not understand. Kylene Beers in When Kids Can’t Read: What Teachers Can Do says that first, we must demonstrate the processes through a...

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