Scaffolding Students' Interactions
What is it?
As the title implies, a think aloud is a great strategy to use to slow down the reading process and let students get a good look at how skilled readers construct meaning from a text. Many of us developed our skills as readers implicitly, by simply doing a lot of reading of all sorts of texts; after all, reading is a passion for us. Therefore, when we teach reading at the secondary level, we need to keep in mind that we must take what we know and do implicitly and make it explicit for our students, especially for our struggling readers. Below is a beginning list of what skilled readers do implicitly; we need to help our students learn and apply these skills/strategies on a regular basis to improve their interactions with text.
What Skilled Readers Do While They Read:
Activate prior knowledge: Whenever skilled readers approach a text for the first time, they consciously (or unconsciously) summon any information or background that they have in relation to the topic, idea, people/characters, setting, historical context, author, similar events, etc. This process provides a footing or foundation for the reading; it helps us to make sense of the new text. This is an important step that inexperienced readers often skip over.
Set a purpose/reason/goal for reading: Another step that becomes automatic for skilled readers is establishing what they expect to get out of the reading. Depending on the purpose, we adjust our reading in order to meet the chosen goal. Helping our students to define the reason, purpose or goal for the reading is a crucial initial step in helping them to successfully interact with the text. Are they reading for pleasure/entertainment? To gather information? To support a thesis? To answer an essential question? etc.
Decode text into words and meanings: These are the basic reading skills that our children begin to learn at the elementary...