Monitoring your reading is as important as reading itself. If a reader doesn’t self-monitor as they read a text, they cannot correct themselves if they go wrong somewhere, making it difficult to comprehend and retain information. Therefore, teachers must empower students with self-monitoring reading strategies so they are better equipped to make sense of what they are reading.
In this write-up, we will be discussing a few effective strategies students can implement to monitor their own reading. This will help them gradually become independent readers who need little to no intervention, whether they’re reading an educational text or their favorite storybook!
What is “Monitoring” in reading, and why is it important?
When readers ascertain if they understand what they are reading, they knowingly or unknowingly monitor their reading. Monitoring allows readers to pay attention to visuals, language structures, and the meaning of individual sentences to get an overall idea of the text. It encourages them to pause and notice if there’s something in the text they don’t understand or if something seems wrong and makes no sense.
Self-monitoring is important because it promotes active learning. There can be instances when students read a piece of text fluently but fail to describe its meaning because they did not monitor their reading and ensure they understood the text. In these cases and others, monitoring serves as a tool involving metacognitive awareness through which a reader can control their own comprehension.
Self-monitoring strategies for students to become better readers
Before students apply monitoring strategies while reading, they must be able to figure out three things. First, realizing where the understanding or meaning of a text becomes unclear and the text does not make sense. Second, identify words or sentences they don’t understand. And third, deciding which strategies they can use to restore the meaning of the text. Once readers successfully do these three things, they can implement relevant strategies to improve their comprehension without asking for help.
Effective monitoring reading strategies you can explicitly teach your students, irrespective of their grade level, are:
1. Pause and think
Students can use this monitoring strategy whenever they read new information or feel they do not understand a piece of text. This is when they must pause and think about what they are having difficulty with. Is the text too complicated for them to understand, or are there some words whose meanings they are unsure of? Knowing what is causing hindrances to comprehension can help readers take appropriate steps to improve it.
2. Examine the visuals
The next step readers can take is to look at the visuals available along with the text. Visuals like images, charts, illustrations, etc., depict a given text in the most intricate ways. These give out clues that readers can pick up to understand the text. For example, an illustration in a storybook depicts what the text is talking about. Or a chart may have a summary of the written text. By studying the visuals closely, students can improve their understanding of the text.
3. Re-read the text
Re-reading is one of the most effective monitoring strategies. It takes the reader back to the text they find confusing or difficult to understand. Re-reading does not mean going through the text hurriedly one more time. To analyze the text at a deeper level, students must read slowly to derive meaning from what’s written. They can also read aloud, as it brings more clarity by improving their information processing and comprehension skills.
4. Visualize the text
Visualizing can be a powerful self-monitoring tool for readers if they know how to use it well. They must learn to visualize to understand what the text is trying to imply. Suppose a student is reading a story but finds himself stuck on a statement. He can then imagine the story or a particular part of the story to pinpoint the details and derive meaning from them. He can determine if something is wrong or missing, which is making comprehension difficult, and then see if he can correct it or fill in the missing link.
5. Ask relevant questions
Not to others but to oneself. By asking simple questions like where, when, who, etc., readers can find answers to what’s already given in the text, evaluate their understanding, and concentrate on important areas. They can also ask questions that help them find answers or meanings hidden within the text. For example, “What lesson have I learned from this story?” and so on.
6. Find meanings
Sometimes comprehension is difficult because the reader does not know the meaning of words that constitute a sentence or a paragraph. This self-monitoring strategy requires readers to pay attention to what they are reading so they can easily spot a word or a sentence they don’t know the meaning of. They can then use resources like dictionaries to find meanings and see if they can now comprehend the content.
7. Infer and make predictions
Another strategy to monitor reading is to infer or make predictions about the text using your background knowledge. Students can think along the lines of why a certain thing is happening in the text and try to draw a conclusion or predict what’s going to happen next. This applies better to reading stories that have a definitive plot with a beginning, middle, and end. A correct prediction indicates the reader has understood the text well. If it’s wrong, they can always go back to it and re-read it to support comprehension.
How do you encourage readers to use monitoring strategies while reading?
Young readers are not very efficient at implementing monitoring strategies. They concentrate more on decoding the words than deriving meaning from the sentences. As a teacher, you can encourage them to monitor their reading by asking them questions like –
- What makes you stop reading?
- Is there anything you do not understand?
- Can you identify your mistake?
- Which strategy can you use to understand the text?
- Did the strategy help you?
For advanced readers, you can create texts with deliberate errors so you can identify which students are monitoring their reading and which are not. Some ideas to add errors include adding contradicting statements, changing the sequence of the story, altering the title of the text, and placing wrong words in a paragraph that do not fit in the right context.
If students are reading actively and using monitoring strategies, you can observe them making faces, re-reading the text, and applying self-correcting behaviors. They will look happy if they are able to fix their difficulty, or they may turn toward you for help. Others who are not reading actively will not show any of these non-verbal cues. To fix this issue, you can provide students with checklists, like the self-monitoring reading comprehension checklist.
Monitoring your students while they are self-monitoring their reading is essential so you can provide support to those who are not doing it or are having a tough time figuring out which strategies to implement and how.
Developing impeccable reading skills involves reading with fluency, decoding words, connecting ideas presented in sentences, and merging them together to comprehend the meaning of the entire text. If readers fail to understand a text, reading becomes pointless.
Self-monitoring reading strategies enable students to derive meaning from what they are reading. They can adapt these strategies based on the type of text they’re reading and its difficulty level. As an educator, you have a big role to play in teaching and encouraging your students to use self-monitoring reading strategies whenever they are reading. By inculcating this habit, your students will be better equipped to comprehend a wide variety of written content and become successful readers.
I am Priyanka Sonkushre, a writer and blogger. I am the person behind “One Loving Mama,” a mom blog. Equipped with a Bachelor’s degree along with an MBA, my healthcare background helps me deeply understand learning difficulties. I know how challenging it can be for parents to find the right resources to help their children excel in life. So, here I am to blend my healthcare expertise with my parenting experience to create valuable and helpful resources for parents and teachers supporting children with learning differences. If you wish, you can follow me on Facebook and LinkedIn.