- Students gain greater awareness of and ability to direct their thinking processes to understand claims in texts
- Students can distinguish between claims of fact, value, and policy as laid out in Section 2.2: Types of Claims to Look out for
Background on the Approach
This lesson plan emphasizes Think Aloud, a metacognitive routine that can be applied to other chapters and texts. Think Aloud is a core metacognitive Reading Apprenticeship routine that helps students become more aware of their thinking and also builds their capacity to use strategic thinking to comprehend and evaluate complex academic texts. It has the following benefits:
- Provides practice putting names to cognitive activities that help students build comprehension and think critically.
- Encourages students to notice and say when they are confused and use each other as resources to build meaning and problem solve the claims evaluation process.
- Helps students notice text structures, tone, word choice in evaluating claims and writer purpose, which builds comprehension, confidence and stamina and prepares students to develop their own argumentative claims.
Connection to Equity Pedagogy
Engaging students in strategic metacognitive conversations, thinking about and talking together about how to become increasingly strategic in directing higher-order thinking, is a core equity pedagogy strategy. This rigorous and scaffolded approach builds student capacity in critical thinking and complex academic literacy. Metacognitive conversations are culturally responsive in that they are supportive, empowering and they engage all four areas of classroom life (described in Reading Apprenticeship as the personal, social, cognitive, and knowledge building dimensions). For more on equity and this book's approach, see How Arguments Work and Equity-Centered Pedagogy.
- Model identifying types of claims using Think Aloud while students take notes
Model for the students how you, as an expert reader, would read the text, focusing on evaluating the claims (using the terminology in Chapter 2.2 - claims of policy, claims of fact and claims of value). You can model this aloud in class or post your own short audio/video modeling a Think Aloud with one of the Suggested Short Readings.
Be authentic. Share the contents of your thinking in a spontaneous way. Describe what and why you are using particular thinking strategies. Do not turn your model Think Aloud into a lecture in disguise! The goal is to authentically model the thinking processes you use to evaluate claims and build comprehension of texts.
Keep it short - around two minutes. When students work together in pairs, they might be able to sustain the Think Aloud for longer stretches, but when modeling, keep it focused and short. See this sample video where Sarah Sullivan models Think Aloud with The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from the Suggested Short Readings.
Ask students to take notes using this metacognitive notetaker on what thinking and comprehension strategies they see you using as you model Think Aloud and what reasoning strategies you are using to evaluate the claims in the text.
- Give students the opportunity to practice in pairs and take notes
For example, a student might practice Thinking Aloud while reading one full paragraph while their partner takes notes using the same metacognitive notetaker, and then the pair will switch roles.
In a synchronous in-person course, students can pair up and sit together. In an online synchronous course, pairs can work in breakout rooms. In an asynchronous online course, ask students to record video or audio of their Think Aloud to share with teacher/peers via discussion post, FlipGrid, Voicethread, or other easy video application.
- Whole class discussion of student observations both about the text's claims and about the active reading process
Lead a whole group metacognitive conversation - a discussion about the Think Aloud experience and what kinds of thinking and evaluation strategies it revealed. Focus not only on the text (evaluating the types of claims) but also on the thinking/problem solving processes of the students.
Express to your students your own faith that their metacognitive conversations will build and become richer with time as will their capacity to understand and evaluate claims in texts.
Additional Resources on Think Aloud in college classrooms
- Think-Aloud - Reading Apprenticeship at TCC: Resources gathered by educators at Tacoma Community College working with the Reading Apprenticeship framework.
- General information on the WestEd Reading Apprenticeship framework and downloadable Reading Apprenticeship Teacher Resources.
- The book Reading for Understanding: How Reading Apprenticeship Improves Disciplinary Learning in Secondary and College Classrooms, 2nd Edition describes Think Aloud and other core Reading Apprenticeship metacognitive routines for college readers.
- A lesson plan for Think Aloud or Talking to the Text from Leading for Literacy: A Reading Apprenticeship Approach.
Original content by Sarah Sullivan, licensed CC BY-NC 4.0.