Guidelines for Modeling and Thinking Aloud
This resource features content-specific strategies for using reading and writing to support learning in all content areas, with a focus on English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. This resource also presents guidelines for preparing and delivering content area think-aloud lessons.
You will also have the opportunity to view two think-aloud examples. Then, you will develop and teach a similar think-aloud lesson to your students—modeling how to engage with content-specific text.
Effective teacher modeling and thinking aloud in front of a class has been described as "giving instruction," rather than just "giving instructions." Teachers who repeatedly model and think aloud as they read and write explicitly show their students the mental strategies involved in constructing meaning.
Download and print the handout packet for this resource by clicking the button below.
Review the first handout, Thinking Like an Expert: Guidelines for Modeling and Thinking Aloud in Content Area Classrooms, before continuing.
Effectively modeling the mental processes you use as you read, write, complete tasks, and solve problems requires planning and preparation. Taking the time to develop questions and comments to share with students as you think aloud helps to target specific skills and strategies like those detailed on the handout.
Sample Science Think-Aloud
Explicitly teaching vocabulary helps students learn new content area material through reading and writing. The Online Texas Adolescent Literacy Academies (OTALA) contain useful information about vocabulary instructional routines. This resource uses content from OTALA; any handout numbers refer to the original handouts from OTALA.
Locate the sample science text, "Where Do Baby Turtles Go During Their Lost Years?" by Ed Yong, from the handout packet and number the paragraphs 1 to 16. Then, read the text.
Next, select three to five words you would preteach based on your students’ needs. Some possible words are buoyant, predator, circumstantial evidence, habitat, equivalent, and gauntlet.
Consult Handout 3: Pronouncing and Defining Words Routine and Handout 4: Scaffolding Pronunciation for ideas on how to preteach the words you select.
When you are ready, click play on the video below to watch a science teacher explain how he developed his think-aloud and what he plans to model for his students.
Click play on the video below to watch the teacher read the title and first three paragraphs of the science text.
Click play on the video below to watch the science teacher read and think aloud for his students.
In the next video, the teacher begins by leading a discussion with the class about the problem-solution text structure noticed in the previous video and then points out the usefulness of visual supports. The video concludes with the teacher reading aloud and modeling how to estimate when encountering numbers in text. Click play to watch the video.
Click play on the video below to watch the teacher read aloud and encourage students to follow the path illustrated on the map.
Click play on the video below to watch the teacher continue to read aloud and model how to engage with informational text.
Link to sample text:
Link to scientific journal article:
Sample Math Think-Aloud
In the handout packet, locate the math text and related graphs, "For the Unemployed, the Day Stacks Up Differently," and number the paragraphs 1 to 6.
Then, read the text and select three to five words or concepts that you might preteach based on your students' needs. Some possible words or concepts are metric, proportion, ratio, graph, and structure.
When you are ready, click play on the video below to watch a teacher introduce the think-aloud process and review important ideas in the article before reading.
In the next video, the teacher annotates and thinks aloud as she reads the article aloud. Note that as she reads, she also works through several math calculations. Click play to watch the video.
Click play on the video below to watch the teacher continue to work through the text while thinking aloud for her students.
Click play on the video below to watch the teacher model how to interpret the graphs and explain how the text supports the graphs.
The New York Times created an interactive graph to show the data across different groups based on age range, gender, educational attainment, family status, and race.
Click the link below to explore the data through the interactive graph.
Develop a Think-Aloud
Thinking aloud is an instructional strategy that helps students learn how to monitor their own thinking and learning in the content areas.
Now it is your turn to develop a think-aloud lesson.
- First, select a literary or informational text you currently use (or plan to use) in your content area classroom.
- Next, plan and prepare your think-aloud. Revisit and use the first handout in this packet, Thinking Like an Expert: Guidelines for Modeling and Thinking Aloud in Content Area Classrooms. You may also want to refer to the following handout from the Using Features of Literary and Informational Text to Guide Reading resource (URAW0003): Engaging With Text. When referring to the Engaging With Text handout, use page 1 if your selected text is a literary text or page 2 if it is an informational text.
- When you are finished developing your think-aloud, teach the lesson to your students.