Modelling Thinking Processes

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Higher order level comprehension requires you to evaluate and infer. However, these are very difficult skills to teach students. Modelling can often be a powerful means of helping students understand the thinking process underpinning comprehension.

Thinking Aloud

1.       Plan ahead. Be familiar with the text and the teaching points you want to demonstrate.

2.       Read the selected text aloud.

3.       Stop at relevant points and share:

  • Your thoughts and feelings (e.g., She was brave.  I would have been too scared to …because…).
  • New information that you learned and how it adds to your existing knowledge (e.g., I knew dinosaurs … but I didn’t know frogs …..).
  • Questions you ask yourself (e.g., I wonder why …..?).
  • How you make connections between other parts of the text and/or your own knowledge (e.g., He must be tired because …).
  • Parts that seem confusing and how you can increase clarity (e.g., Rereading).
  • How we determine the important information.


1.       This is a useful strategy for highlighting important information and to be able to quickly return to that information.

2.       Use sticky notes.

3.       Teach abbreviations and develop a code so the process is quick and doesn’t interfere with the flow of the text. This could include using different colours and illustrations.

4.       Have a purpose.  Are you annotating your feelings, sections you don’t understand or would like to explore further, interesting information, key points, characterisation, connections to own life, etc.

Finding Answers

1.       Read through each question.

2.       Determine if the answer is ‘in the text’ (i.e., can be easily found by rereading) or ‘in your head’ (i.e., you need to either connect several sentences or make connections to your own knowledge).

3.       Verbalise how you find the answer for the different types of questions.

  • If the answer is in the text, you need to determine the key word(s) and then quickly scan the text to locate the part of the text in which the answer can be found.
  • If the answer is in your head, then you need to find the different sentences that need to be connected or the questions you have to ask yourself to connect to your own knowledge to find the answer.


Harvey, S. & Goudvis, A. (2017). Strategies that Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding, Engagement and Knowledge Building (3rd Edition). Stenhouse Publishers: Portland, Maine.