Strategies for Comprehending Text

Think aloud....Is Closing the Gap.

Teachers are always thriving to find the most effective ways to provide students with the magic formula to successfully be able to analyze and comprehend texts. There has been many try and error strategies implemented, and sadly those that are less academically privileged due socio-economic reasons, indeed lack of resources to accomplish State Standards have been struggling for many decades.

Thanks to many researchers that has studied for years reading strategies, pretty beneficial outcomes has been taking place.

This evidence based handout will provide you with ten tips to be use in the classroom to develop comprehension skills on students through Think-Aloud strategy.

"Select high-quality texts with clear central messages that match students' interests". (Witte,Priscilla.G.2016)

Based on Priscilla Witte, 2016, one of the most important steps to take to develop comprehension skills on students is to choose a text rich on vocabulary, indeed high-quality text and interested for students. She considers a very crucial step for the implementation of the CTA model, that stands for Complex Text Analysis created by her. In this model the teacher choose a book per week to read for 30 or 40 minutes. Starting for the least complex to more complex texts. She explained her thoughts and gradually released the responsibility to students to analyze and comprehend text on their own. Students were engaged and took apart of the process.

She used the rubric to monitor students progress.

Please see the CTA rubric below.


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"Prepare for each lesson". (Witte,Priscilla .G. 2016)

Prior reading aloud, teacher has to make sure that the text to read and analyze is aligned with students expectations about what to learn. Using a text rich in vocabulary aligned with the core standards to be taught for that specific period of time it is very important. Teaching vocabulary in isolation is not that effective than in associations with the content. As Maria .S. (2004), mentioned in her article there are many strategies such a contextual clues, morphological information , and cognate knowledge that can be implemented to help with the comprehension skills of texts in questions, specially on ESL students. In other hand according to Priscilla (2016), teachers has to prepare digital resource to be use as a part of their preparation for the lesson.

It is important to have ready planned the stems questions the teacher is going to ask aloud and think it through ready.

Some examples of the questions are on the rubric above and the rubric below.

See contextual clues example cognates below also.

"Scaffold Instruction" Witte Priscilla (2006)

Modeling thinking to students it is an important part of read-aloud. Teachers should constantly model for students before even expecting students to analyze a text independently. There is a process in which gradually the teacher will release to students the responsibility to analyze a text on their own.

Teachers may keep students engaged the whole time.

Teachers need to model all the time so students can be a part of the dialogue and develop speaking and listening skills.

"Maintain High Expectation for all Students" Witte Priscilla (2006)

Teachers need to make sure that during read-aloud students answer High Order Thinking Skills Questions. Those questions belong to the analysis and application part of the stem questions in Bloom of Taxonomy.

Teachers have to take in consideration that ESL students may need extra support. For that providing previous knowledge and life experiences relationship is crucial.

Provide students support in the formulation of the questions.

After the teacher has been modeling for a while "think aloud", when is it time to start releasing that responsibility to students, the teacher has to take in consideration that students might need support. I do, we do it, you do it.

I have display on my wall some of the stem questions they could use to formulate their own, based on the text in order to develop comprehension skills.

Acting out to define unfamiliar words during think aloud is always positive.

Meanwhile the teacher is reading and thinking loud, the use of gestures, intonation, and "acting out to define unfamiliar words during discussion is always positive to students" (Silverman, Rebeca), specially in Early Childhood.

Teachers have to remember that not all kids are expose to rich literature indeed we are the tunnel to discover new words and meanings in text, specially when we move on and apply this strategy in more complex texts.

Use an assessment rubric to evaluate students progress

In order to assess students to see if they have accomplished the set goals in terms on comprehension skills, I would recommend you to use the CTA rubric. It is very simple and handed to use.

Evaluate students progress

After assessing students and knowing were they are at in terms of comprehension skills, evaluate the data and see if the strategy has been working effective and reflect on what it can be modified.

Videotape your a part of the lesson you have modeled.

One of the reasons I think it is important to videotape yourself modeling the lesson is because you can reflect on they way your are modeling think-aloud and make adjusting accordingly if it is necessary.

Share your video with coworkers and professional staffs

The reason why I recommend you to do that is because sometimes others can see things we don't see. It is like write proofing, before turning in a formal documents, it has to be reviewed many times before it is ready to be sent. The something happens when we teach. There is always room for improvement.

This link provides with explanation and suggestions about how to implement Think-aloud. It explains how students and teachers can benefits with the strategy and how it could positively affect students performance.

In this video the teacher is modeling thin-aloud using common core anchor standards.

She uses close reading to think-aloud. I think it is beneficial to see how other teachers model thin-aloud for their students because we can learn from them and apply new tips to our routine.


This link gives you plenty of posters get an idea about you can create your own chart and the type of questions to model when think-aloud takes place.

- Maria S. Carlo. Closing the gap: Addressing the vocabulary needs of English - language learners in bilingual and mainstream classrooms, 188-215

- Silverman Rebeca and Crandell DiBara Jennifer.2010.Vocabulary Practices in Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Classrooms, pp 318-340.

- Witte, Priscilla G. (2016). Teaching First Graders to Comprehend Complex Texts Through Read-Alouds. The Reading Teacher. doi:


-Button Kathryn and Johnson Margaret. (1997). The Role of Shared Reading in Developing Effective Early Reading Strategies, Volume 37, (Issue 4)

This articles talks about how shared reading helps to improve vocabulary and comprehensions skills on students.

- Boyles Nancy.(2013) Closing in on Close Reading, Volume 7,number 4, 36-41.

I do recommend this article because it talks about the benefits of close reading. It is a strategy than can definitely be use during small group instruction or during thing-aloud time.

-Think Alouds. Reading Rockets

It is a very descriptive side about what and how to implement thin- aloud in your classroom. It walks you through the process. I found this website a very teacher friendly site to read and apply.