The Think-Aloud is a teaching and learning strategy, teachers put into words the logical thinking processes
|Students Playing Games Using Vocabulary|
Students that Participate in Tier 2 and 3 Academic Vocabulary Think Alouds:
- Boost their academic vocabulary knowledge and understanding.
- ACCELERATE THEIR LEARNING!
- ELIMINATE THE ACHIVMENT GAP!
- Build strategies for decoding new vocabulary.
- Learn that words have multiple meanings, denotations and connotations.
- Build a foundation of listening, questioning, reflecting and thinking strategies they will use the rest of their academic lives.
- Increase reading score exponentially.
Students reading levels (based on visual word recognition) and listening levels (based on auditory word recognition) are vastly different in the primary grades and more pronounced in students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. A student may recognize 5,000-10,000 spoken words, yet only read 1,000 words by sight. A student may have a 5-6 year gap in their auditory vocabulary or listening levels as compared to words they can decode and recognize in print. Think about a student that has a 2nd grade reading level but a 6th-grade listening level, they could be spending 90% of their day being exposed to low-level academic vocabulary concepts and zero new complex language structures! Students listening comprehension levels are the point which students can comprehend effectively information presented in lectures, discussions, and think-alouds. If you read aloud Harry Potter and students understand the words, concepts, themes, ideas, and plot structures they are listening at a 6-8th-grade level.
Rethinking Ability Groups and Differentiation!
Teachers are trained to use reading assessment data to differentiate and ability group students based on reading comprehension scores. Yet many teachers never ability group based on student listening levels. Many teachers never test student listening comprehension ability.
Why is this? Basing reading instruction and lessons on grade level reading scores alone is a mistake. Student grade level listening comprehension levels are a clue to your students’ potential ability. The students listening level can be a measure of the upper limits for growth in a classroom. A teacher that relies on a basal reading program alone is not stretching students toward their upper listing comprehension levels.
Students taught in classrooms that use sophisticated literature, Socratic seminars, and adroit think-alouds grow above and beyond these upper limits. Teachers front loading complex literary concepts using think-alouds will blow past their students’ base reading levels and push through the upper limits of their listening levels.
My students make double and even triple expected growth using students’ listening levels as my guide to teaching complex literary concepts. I teach reading and language art using literature that is usually two years above grade level. The teachable moments that are created while reading books like Howl's Moving Castle are the perfect connection to the adroit think-alouds.
My experience with low reading scores and high listening comprehension
I was a special education student who in fifth grade could barely decode at first-grade level. Yet I could have easily understood literary concepts many years higher than my grade level. I never had a chance to test my ability and tackle complex literary concepts because I was always in a special education ability grouped reading class (differentiated) throughout my entire public school career. My education choices were accommodated, modified and differentiated to the point of being mute. In effect I was warehoused in public school daycare.
The Superpower of FRONTLOADING: Why teaching the meaning of complex literary concepts before during and after a lesson is an imperative:
- Create background knowledge to help students interact with a text fully and comprehend required information prior to reading.
- Teach students how to construct meaning, and how to connect new information with prior knowledge.
- Teach students how to contrast and compare meaning, draw conclusions and make inferences about the meaning of words.
Vocabulary Think Aloud Protocols and Socratic Discussions: EXEMPLAR
Model 1: The teacher gives a micro-lecture on an academic vocabulary term using a think aloud; students attentively listen and discuss, questing and re-teach concepts.
Frontload Mini Lecture: “In/dex noun
One meaning of "index" is an alphabetical list of names, subjects, etc., together with page numbers where they can be found--usually placed at the end of a book.”
Student Think Pair Share: Students attentively listen to the mini-lecture and turn and re-teach what the teacher just shared. This is very fast!
Teacher Mini Lecture: A second meaning of "index" is an indicator, sign, or measure of something.
Student Think Pair Share: Students attentively listen to the micro-lecture and turn and re-teach what the teacher just shared if they need clarification they are encouraged to seek help to understand fully.
Teacher Mini Lecture: Index (Text Book and Reference Text), a detailed list, usually arranged alphabetically, of the specific information in a publication and the associated page number you will find the information.
Student Think Pair Share: Students attentively listen to the micro-lecture and turn and re-teach what that teacher just shared again if they need clarification they are encouraged to seek help to understand fully.
Students may always ask the teacher for assistance using polite dialogue and always asking for assistance using complete sentences. Mr. Taylor, “My partner and I would like a further explanation, new denotation and or a contextual exemplar of the word index, S'il vous plait, if you please”? Thank you. Add a French phrase to make the use of polite conversation fun.
TEACHER THINK ALOUD! INDEX:
Think-alouds are deliberate, modeling how to use background knowledge to make logical predictions. Don’t over think this part, model thinking out loud with your students.
Think aloud question ideas:
- The word has two syllables, what words do I know with “in” and “dex” ?
- I think the “in” means put inside, and “dex” might mean decimals numbers?
- “This is a new word, it connects (or doesn’t) with my prior knowledge....”
- “Wow, I understand this word better using it in context....”
- “This makes sense now because I shared with my partner . . .”
- What should I do to remember the word index?
- “Ohh, I think that prefix/suffix/root means. . . .”
- “At first, I thought this word meant...., but now, I think the word is...”
- “This is word is fascinating because.....”
- “This word is hard to understand because....”
- “This word is less confusing because.....”
- “A strategy I should use to help me understand this word better is .....”
- “Since I don’t understand this word, a good strategy would be ...."
- “I need to revise my thinking about this word....”
- “My prediction is this word means...."
Students are encouraged to share their ideas; students assist the teacher and peers with extra denotations, contextual exemplars and or mnemonic narrations to remember the academic term.
Teacher Questions: The teacher asks all students to use and explain the word index, discussing the denotation and the contextual exemplars.
Students Think Aloud: Students think aloud with a partner; peers monitor, question, re-teach, and assist fellow peers.
Teacher Quick Check: Teacher does a Quick-Check using a whole class survey, RED/GREEN, GLASS, BUGS, MUD, or equality sticks and cold calls.
Think Aloud Extensions:
Model 2: The teacher introduces an unknown academic vocabulary term and lets students discover the meaning of the word using the think aloud model described above; students look up the words, find contextual exemplars, students attentively listen to each other's ideas and discuss, questing and re-teach concepts.
Individual students present their think aloud in a Socratic seminar; other peers record ideas on Cornell notes.
A Teacher or student presents a think aloud orally and the group turns the presentation into an anchor chart.
Think-Alouds for building background and academic knowledge.
The Think-Aloud is a teaching and learning strategy in which teachers put into words the logical thinking processes used to analyze and understand an academic concept, works of literature, or new vocabulary. The Think-Aloud describes the cognitive strategies used to make connections between new information and prior knowledge.
Think-Alouds may also be used to front load academic vocabulary concepts. Here, teachers model the thinking skills involved in learning new academic vocabulary concepts and brain-based memory strategies that enhance retention.
Presenting academic vocabulary using kid-friendly language helps students unpack examples and more clearly understand the meanings of new words. Terms are front loaded and explained using contextual exemplars, denotations, and connotations and reinforced through student discussion and modeling of thinking strategies used to understand words.
Students participants in Tier 2 and 3 academic vocabulary think alouds:
- Boost academic vocabulary, LANGUAGE, and word knowledge and deepen understanding
- Build strategies for decoding new multisyllabic vocabulary words words
- Learn that words have multiple meanings, denotations and multiple connotations
- Build a foundation of listening, questioning, reflecting and thinking strategies they will use the rest of their academic lives
- Greatly increase reading scores
Why use more think-alouds to front load advanced concepts?
Students’ reading levels (based on visual word recognition) and listening levels (based on auditory word recognition) are vastly different in the primary grades and more pronounced in students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. A student may recognize 5,000 to 10,000 spoken words, yet only read 1,000 words by sight.
A student may have a 5-6 year gap in their auditory vocabulary or listening levels as compared to words they can decode and recognize in print. Consider a student with a 2nd grade reading level and a 6th-grade listening level. Potentially, they might spend 90% of their day exposed to low-level academic vocabulary concepts and zero new complex language structures!
Students listening comprehension levels show the degree to which students effectively comprehend information presented in lectures, discussions, and think-alouds. If you read aloud an extract from Harry Potter and students understand the words, concepts, themes, ideas, and plot structures, then they are listening at 6-8th-grade level.
The power of frontloading: Why teaching the meaning of complex literary concepts before during and after a lesson is imperative:
- It creates background knowledge to help students fully interact with a text and comprehend required information prior to reading.
- It teaches students how to construct meaning, and how to connect new information with prior knowledge.
- It teaches students how to contrast and compare meaning, draw conclusions and make inferences about the meaning of words.