When students verbalize what they know, it helps them to reflect upon and clarify the problem and focus on one step at a time. “Thinking aloud” requires talking through the details, decisions, and the reasoning behind those decisions. Struggling students, in particular, can benefit from slowing down the process, because it gives them time to fully comprehend the problem. Technology can help create problems with natural stopping points that allow students to practice this “thinking aloud” strategy—that is, to experiment, consider, and then decide their next steps.
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Thinking aloud helps your students learn how to reason by focusing on their thinking (see UDL Checkpoint 9.3: Develop self-assessment and reflection). Most students are not used to answering questions that require more than a single-word or short-phrase response. Many don’t know how to talk about mathematics or explain their thinking. These strategies provide a strong starting point for differentiating instruction.