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Lesson Plan

Building Reading Comprehension Through Think-Alouds

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Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Laurie A. Henry, Ph.D.

Laurie A. Henry, Ph.D.

Lexington, Kentucky


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Day 1

Day 2


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Explore the use of the think-aloud strategy

  • Vocalize interactions with texts

  • Discuss connections between texts and previously acquired knowledge

  • Use various types of responses to interact with texts

  • Assess personal level of comprehension

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Day 1

Initiation — Present the term "think-aloud" to your students. Have them brainstorm what they think it might mean. Ask students to report how it might be applied to reading.

Modeling — Model a think-aloud by presenting a poem on the overhead. As you read each line out loud to the students, stop and vocalize "thinking aloud" about the poem.

Example — This is a think-aloud for the poem "Dream Variation" by Langston Hughes.

To fling my arms wide

In some place of the sun,

To whirl and to dance

Till the white day is done.

[I’m picturing a young girl with bare feet and a summer dress twirling in her front yard with her arms outstretched.]

Then rest at cool evening

Beneath a tall tree

[I'm picturing a large willow tree and sitting underneath it. Fireflies are blinking among the branches.]

While night comes on gently,

Dark like me—

[I'm now going back to my original picture of the young girl and can add more detail to the image in my mind. I'm also thinking about the words "white day" and how they contrast with the words "night" and "dark." ]

That is my dream!

[I think about how children's lives are so filled with dreams. This young girl seems to be free spirited and probably has many dreams.]

To fling my arms wide

In the face of the sun,

Dance! Whirl! Whirl!

[I once again see the image of the young girl twirling in her yard and how free she is...like she is flying.]

Till the quick day is done.

Rest at pale evening...

[Hmmm...This poem includes several words that relate to color--white, dark, and pale. I wonder if the poet is trying to make a point about color.]

A tall, slim tree...

Night coming tenderly

Black like me.

[There is another color word--black. I think the poet has some kind of hidden meaning here but I'm not sure what it is. The poem seems to portray freedom. Maybe the title "Dream Variation" helps make this point. Is this poem about slavery and the only way to be free is in a dream? I think that I might want to look up some information about the author and the date that this poem was published. That might help me to understand it better.]

Model with student interactions — Model a second poem and ask for students to volunteer what they are thinking after each line or stanza. Record their responses on the transparency.

Brainstorming — Ask students to recognize different types of responses from the two models of think-alouds. List these responses on chart paper. Responses can include but are not limited to the following:

  • Imagery/visual responses

  • Making connections to personal experiences

  • Making connections to other texts

  • Predictions

  • Stating understanding or confusion

Discuss how all of these responses can help students better understand/comprehend what they are reading.

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Day 2

Preparation — Type the list of think-aloud responses from Day 1 and distribute to each student at the beginning of class.

Small group — Put students into groups of three or four. Distribute copies of a poem that is unfamiliar to each group. Direct students to read the poem and use the think-aloud strategy that was presented. Each group should record the types of responses that were used.

Whole group — Have each group report the types of responses that were used. Record these on the chart paper from the previous lesson by placing tally marks next to the strategy. Make comparisons of what responses are used most commonly within the classroom.

Computer lab — Have students use the Think-Aloud Interactive to practice using the think-aloud strategy presented.

Follow-up activity — Discuss the types of responses that are used most often. Ask students what they could do to increase comprehension of a particular text. Explain how students can use the think-aloud technique to assess their comprehension of a text. Ask students what responses they could use to help them read their content area textbooks versus fictional literature.

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Provide students with different types of texts to further explore and practice using think-alouds. Suggestions include short stories (fiction or nonfiction) and excerpts from content area texts. Students can work in either small groups or independently to read the selected text using the think-aloud strategy.

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  • Observe students' uses of think-aloud strategy.

  • Review students' work on the Think-Aloud Interactive. Use the Think-Aloud Rubric to assess students' abilities to use various think-aloud responses to assist with comprehension.

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