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Think aloud is a common strategy used for all students to help them develop comprehension. The main goal of reading is comprehension. It is important that students read with a purpose and understand all types of texts. Think aloud is a very practical strategy that can be used in a whole class setting, in a small group setting, and with students with or without disabilities. Think aloud is modeling the thinking process and verbalizing your ideas and questions. "In a think aloud task, statements or verbal protocols are generated by participants as they verbalize their thoughts or thought processes while reading, listening to stories, or solving process" (Gilliam et al., 82). This strategy is often used in reading to improve comprehension, and to help students express what they are thinking as they read. Although think aloud can be used in reading, this strategy can be used for any subject area. Teachers need to help students develop skills to help them with comprehension, and to teach students strategies to monitor their own understanding of the text. As teachers we want all students to be successful, so I believe this meta-cognition strategy can assist students with reading. Thinking aloud is important in reading because we want to teach students to automatically think to promote their comprehension. Our goal in reading is to help students develop comprehension skills, to teach them self- monitoring strategies, and to have students be able to reflect their understanding of the text. According to Oster, "several studies have shown that students who verbalize their reading strategies and thoughts while reading score significantly higher on comprehension test. Thinking aloud leads students to improve discussions, better understanding, and more enjoyment of literature".
The research was conducted to investigate the effectiveness of a comprehension strategy within a general education, multilevel reading class for middle school students with and without learning disabilities. The students were taught the strategy in an inclusive classroom. In this study 207 students participated in the study. Out of the 207 students, 25 students were identified as having learning disabilities. Students were divided randomly into two groups: the experimental group and the control group. The students in the control group received the districts mandated reading program. The students in this group were given a pretest of reading comprehension of expository texts, and a posttest after they had learned the new strategy. The students in the experimental group received the think aloud strategy. The experimental group also received pretest and posttest. Both groups were exposed to the same instructional procedures. The students were first given the pretest, then the strategy was defined and described, the teacher then modeled the strategy, the students practiced the strategy, and finally they were given the posttest. The first class session consisted of the pretest. In sessions 2 and 3, the teacher described the strategy, the required steps, and provided plenty of modeling to define the strategy. After the teacher had provided them with modeling, the students rehearsed the strategy until they could demonstrate it with 100% accuracy. The next 11 sessions consisted of direct instruction, practice, and corrective feedback using the strategy. Finally, in session 15, the students were given the posttest that was parallel to the pretest. The results were then gathered from the two treatment groups, and it showed that the think aloud strategy induced better reading comprehension than the control group who received the district curriculum. The students in the experimental group gained 17%, compared to the students in the control group who gained 3.5%. The researchers then looked at the scores of the experimental group and control group, and separated the students with learning disabilities and the students without disabilities. This was done to compare the gain made from students with learning disabilities from each group. The results of the analysis revealed that the students with learning disabilities in the experimental group showed more improvement than the students with learning disabilities in the control group. The students with learning disabilities in the experimental group improved 22% compared to the students with learning disabilities in the control group that gained 11%.
The results tell me that teachers should be teaching students the think aloud strategy. The success of the think aloud strategy is the teacher's ability to model correctly the think aloud procedure. "The think aloud helps students develop the ability to draw on background knowledge as they read, make predictions, correct and revise those predictions as they gain more information from the text, and develop and adapt images as they read, while constantly monitoring their comprehension" (Migyanka et al., 177). Teachers can use this strategy to help children enjoy reading, become better readers, and assess their strengths and weaknesses in reading. The results of the study showed that teachers should teach their students to use think aloud to make predictions, use their background knowledge, comment on the text, and question the stories. Teachers can use the students' comments, predictions, and questions to acquire the students' weaknesses and strengths in comprehension. Teachers can also use the students' responses to the text to plan more effective lessons. Think aloud helps teachers assess the students reading abilities, but it can also assist teachers plan instruction in specific skills students need more help with. After teaching and modeling the think aloud method, teachers need to give students plenty of opportunities to practice this strategy and master it. The teacher should also be engaged while the students are practicing this method to provide them with immediate feedback. Listening to the students practice the think aloud method can also provide the teacher with information on the students' prior knowledge. The think aloud strategy is an efficient, successful, and effective teaching tool for comprehension activities involving reading and writing.
A lesson plan was created to reinforce the think aloud method.
Objective: Students will recall the elements of a story from the book Owen by using the think aloud method.
Participants: 2nd grade students in an inclusion classroom
Materials: Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse and Owen by Kevin Henkes, whiteboard, markers, story map containing the elements of a story: setting, characters, problem, and solution.
The teacher introduces the book Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse and sets the purpose for reading. The teacher tells the students they are going to learn a new strategy today called think aloud. The teacher explains she is going to read the story and stop to think about what she is reading. She also is going to question and comment what she has read to help her understand the story. The teacher provides the students with more details on the think aloud strategy.
The teacher then activates the student's prior knowledge by taking a picture walk and asking the students questions related on the pictures.
The teacher reads the first two pages of Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse and stops to think aloud "I wonder where Lilly is? Well I see a teacher, students, and desks in the picture, so they must be in Lilly's classroom". The teacher continues to read and stop to ask herself questions. Toward the end of the story she asks students to join her thinking aloud.
After the story, the class completes a story map using the think aloud method. The story map reinforces the elements of a story in Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse. The teacher begins again modeling the think aloud process. "I have to figure out where the setting of the story was? I know that setting is another word for where the story takes place. Well I remember in the beginning of the story Lilly was in her classroom with her teacher and her friends. So the setting must be in her classroom". The teacher continues the think aloud process and asks the students to join her. This allows them to practice the think aloud strategy.
After the class has completed the story map together. The teacher then explains to the students they will practice using the think aloud process with a partner. They will also have to complete a story map with their partner based on the story Owen. The teacher asks the students to think about questions they can ask themselves while they read the story Owen. The students come up with questions to help them comprehend the story, and questions that can help them answer their story map. The teacher lists them on the board, and reminds the students that they can use the list of questions to help with their think aloud process.
The students are put into groups of two and practice their think aloud method. The teacher walks around the room to provide the students with feedback. The students complete the story map with their partners using the think aloud process.
Evaluation: The students are evaluated through informal observation, and by the completion of their story maps.