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Think Big With Think Alouds, Grades K-5

Think Big With Think Alouds, Grades K-5
A Three-Step Planning Process That Develops Strategic Readers

Foreword by Douglas Fisher

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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


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ISBN: 9781506364964

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