When I first started as a reading teacher, I was shocked by the amount of errors my students made without self-correcting. I’m not talking about not being able to pronounce an unknown word or struggling with sounding one out. I’m talking about students saying that “The dog meowed” and not stopping to figure out what the heck just happened. And while that might be a slight exaggeration, it really was astonishing to me. I quickly realized that self-monitoring must be my first course of action with my students. Every year I worked with struggling readers I started out with self-monitoring and kept it as a constant throughout the year. I saw huge growth in some students by fixing this one weakness. Now that I’m working with struggling readers again, it was the first thing that jumped out at me when I started listening to them read. Again, I’m back to it as my first mini-lessons with my older students this week.
Self-monitoring is pretty clear on it’s own. It’s monitoring your own reading for accuracy and to ensure you are understanding what is being read. It’s a difficult skill to teach, though, and needs to be repeatedly practiced and reinforced with students. So, how do you teach it?
I start with explaining the 3 questions: Does it look right? Does it sound right? Does it make sense? I explain that as we are reading, everything we read must answer “yes” to those 3 questions. I give them examples of things that would not. For example, substituting kids for children would not make the first rule. Saying “The dogs is tired” does not pass the second sentence. And, “The dog meowed” does not pass the third. These follow the meaning, syntax, visual errors you would analyze on a running record or leveling assessment. You can get your own posters by clicking on the image below.
After I’ve explained the three questions, I read aloud a book while making errors off and on throughout. I ask students to interrupt me if I’ve made an error and ask me one of the questions as it relates to my error. This helps students analyze errors and begin to think about them. It also helps keeps them following along as I read. I’ve even asked students to read aloud and have others redirect them with one of the questions.
Throughout the year, as students make errors without self-correcting them, I draw attention to their mistake by asking one of the questions. I rarely just fix a mistake by students. Instead, I want them to think about the question I’m asking them. I’ve found that this causes them to be more attentive as they are reading and helps them make fewer mistakes in the long run.
How do you teach self-monitoring to your students?
To see more reading fluency in the classroom, check out my series of posts.
I’m also linking up with Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher for her Reading Linky Party. I can’t wait to see some great ideas!
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