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Think Big with Think Alouds

Think Big with Think Alouds
A Three-Step Planning Process That Develops Strategic Readers

Foreword by Douglas Fisher

Additional resources:

August 2017 | 280 pages | Corwin

I’m guessing that those two are planning a surprise. . . . The author keeps mentioning the storm because she wants us to think that the character’s upset. . . . Wait—yikes, I gotta go back and reread because I’m not getting this part. . . .

These are the flickering thoughts of a strategic reader. If only we could bottle all these mental moves and pour them into the minds of our students, then readers’ achievement would grow exponentially. In Think Big With Think Alouds, Molly Ness delivers a process that comes close to bottling that magic.

Molly spent a year researching teachers’ think alouds, and she uses these findings to help you know just what to do. The big time-saver? You focus on just these five strategies: asking questions, making inferences, synthesizing, understanding the author’s purpose, and monitoring and clarifying. Select the one or two strategies that align to your text, and get ready with a stack of sticky notes! Grab a pencil, and you are on your way to dynamic lessons using Molly’s three-step planning process:

Read Once: Go wild, putting a flurry of sticky notes on spots that strike you

Read Twice: Whittle your notes down to the juiciest stopping points 

Read Three Times: Jot down what you will say so there’s no need to wing it in front of the kids 

Other practical tools include

  • More than 20 ready-made think aloud scripts for favorite texts by Sandra Cisneros, Seymour Simon, Shel Silverstein, and many others, to use for think alouds for fiction, informational text, and poetry. 
  • Fun small group and partner activities to gradually transfer comprehension strategies to your students.
  • Downloads on the companion website, including spinner and dice templates, planning forms, and think aloud scripts 

Molly Ness is an associate professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University and earned her PhD in reading education from the University of Virginia. A former Teach For America corps member, she is an experienced classroom teacher and reading clinician. Her numerous books and articles focus on reading comprehension, the instructional decisions of teachers, and the assessment and diagnosis of struggling readers. Contact Molly Ness at


Foreword by Douglas Fisher
CHAPTER 1 The Genius of Think Alouds: To Think Big, Readers Need to Hear What “Big” Sounds Like
What Think Alouds Are

What Think Alouds Are Not

Why Think Alouds Are Relevant Today

The Educational Theories Behind Think Alouds

Practice Makes Perfect: The Three-Step Process to Planning Think Alouds

A Final Note About the Three-Step Process

How to Use This Book

Final Thoughts

Ready for a Trial Run?

CHAPTER 2 Think Aloud With Focus: Five Comprehension Strategies That Go the Distance
How Think Alouds Benefit Our Readers

Arming Yourself With the Five Essential Think Aloud Strategies

The Five Essential Think Aloud Strategies

Final Thoughts

Ready for a Trial Run?

CHAPTER 3 Read Once: Identifying Juicy Stopping Points
An Overview

Using Poetry in Kindergarten

Using Narrative Text in Third Grade

Using Informational Text in Fifth Grade

Final Thoughts

Ready for a Trial Run?

CHAPTER 4 Read Twice: Determining Where and When to Think Aloud
Examining the Original Stopping Points in “Sick” by Shel Silverstein

Examining the Original Stopping Points in Enemy Pie by Derek Munson

Examining the Original Stopping Points in Eyes and Ears by Seymour Simon

Final Thoughts

Ready for a Trial Run?

CHAPTER 5 Read Three Times: Writing the Scripts on Sticky Notes
Signaling for Think Alouds

Think Aloud Sentence Starters

Introducing the Three-Column Chart

The Think Aloud Scripts for Our Model Texts

Final Thoughts

Ready for a Trial Run?

CHAPTER 6 How Did They Go? Teachers Share Successes and Challenges
Inside K–5 Classrooms: A Yearlong Study

Lessons Learned From the Yearlong Study

Ideas to Hone Your Thinking Aloud

Evaluating Your Own Thinking Aloud

Final Thoughts

Ready for a Trial Run?

CHAPTER 7 Students Do: Tips and Tools for Helping Your Readers Think Aloud on Their Own
Using Gradual Release of Responsibility to Scaffold Think Alouds

Encouraging Self-Evaluation With Think Alouds

Applying Think Alouds Across Content Areas

Thinking Aloud With Visuals

Final Thoughts

Ready for a Trial Run?

Appendix A: Sample Think Aloud

Appendix B: Sample Texts

Appendix C: Think Alouds for Sample Texts

Appendix D: Think Aloud Sentence Starters

Appendix E: Three-Column Think Aloud Chart

Appendix F: Think Aloud Script for The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen

Appendix G: Think Aloud Script for A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

Appendix H: Think Aloud Self-Evaluation

Appendix I: Think Aloud Scripts

Appendix J: Putting It Together: Think Aloud Scripts



Sample Materials & Chapters

Table of Contents

Chapter 2

Chapter 5


For instructors

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