Reading & Writing Across Curriculum

Think Aloud

This exercise is intended to help readers examine and develop reading behaviors and strategies (metacognition).  The activity is a little complex, and students are a little apprehensive at first, but they seem to really enjoy verbalizing the text once they became more familiar with the exercise. 

Here is how the activity runs: While working in small groups, students read a section from the text aloud and verbally explain what is going through their minds as they read. “Teachers should select passages that ‘contain points of difficulty, contradictions, ambiguities, or unknown words.’ These materials are read aloud together with the use of Think-Alouds by the teacher (with students following along silently)” (Tierney et al 287).  This activity can be done in small groups or as a class, and the students can do it as an impromptu activity, or they can plan what they will “think-aloud” in advance.  Here are some suggestions for the “think-aloud” activity:


Make predictions or develop hypotheses “From the title, I predict that the text will tell us . . . ”
“In the next part, I think we’ll find out . . .”
Describe your visual images “I have a picture of this _______ in my mind . . . ”
“I can see the_____ in my mind.”
Share an analogy or show how prior knowledge applies. "Like-A" “This was ‘like a’ time when I was late for class because . . . ”
Verbalize a confusing point/Identify problems “This seems to be confusing.”
“I am not sure how this fits in.”
Fix-up strategies “I need to check this out.”
“Maybe I’ll reread this.”


Tierney, Robert, and John Readence. Reading Strategies and Practices:  A Compendium. New York: Pearson, 2005: 287.

For Teacher Use: This ThinkAloudKWL+ handout combines both the "Think Aloud" and the KWL+ reading activities. This exercise also asks the students to keep track of which "Think Aloud" techniques they use.

This page was created by Meghan Swanson.

Reading and Writing Resources

Toby Bielawski
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Originally created by
Karin Spirn and
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Page last modified: May 13, 2016