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8 Key Points for Teaching Readers How to Monitor Comprehension

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

All readers need to understand the processes occurring in their brains as they read text.

Monitoring comprehension is difficult for young readers. They are not aware of all the things going on in their heads while they are reading. Readers need to be able to spot the signals that show when meaning is breaking down.

The intention of a study into monitoring comprehension is to help readers monitor their own reading to make sure they are understanding. Monitoring comprehension is all about understanding the signals that show the reader meaning is breaking down.

It's important to address common problems that students have as they read for longer periods of time and read longer texts.

✅ Readers need to be able to recognize signals that their meaning is breaking down.

✅ Readers need strategies and tools to help them get back on track.

Key Teaching Points for a Study Into Monitoring Comprehension...

✅Monitoring my comprehension

Readers need to understand just what comprehension means.

They need to know that the voice in their head while they are reading will give signals when meaning is breaking down.

Readers need to know how to spot the signals and need strategies for repairing comprehension.

✅Listening to the inner conversation you have with a text

Once readers understand that there is a voice inside their head signaling them about the text they are reading, they need to start listening to that voice.

Readers must understand the signal the voice is giving...

Is it talking TO the text?


Is it distracting FROM the text?

When readers begin to pay attention to the voice in their heads, they will be able to recognize signals of understanding or confusion.

✅Playing the movie in your mind

Readers must understand that the written words on a page in a text they are reading paint a picture. When readers are interacting with text, their brains are formulating a picture much like a movie.

Readers must pay attention to the movie that is happening in their heads as they read. Readers need strategies for recognizing the 'movie' going on in their heads. When they lose the movie, they need to go back and retrace their steps through the text.

✅My reading “camera” shut off! I need to repair it!

Once a reader can recognize that the 'camera' in their head has 'shut off' and they are no longer seeing that 'movie', they need strategies and tools to repair the 'camera'.

As readers recognize that the words on the page are no longer painting a picture, they need to know what to do.

Readers need practice with recognizing the movie that is playing in their heads as they read a text independently. Readers must be shown how to stop at various points throughout reading and recognize the pictures in their head about the text. Readers need visualizing strategies.

✅Am I daydreaming while I read?

Readers must recognize the signals of whether or not they are comprehending the text they are reading.

When readers are listening to the voice in their head, they must be able to spot if the voice is distracting or interacting.

Readers need to recognize that daydreaming is a signal when meaning is breaking down. Readers need to use that signal to remove any environmental distractions and go back to reread.

✅Retelling the text

When readers are monitoring their comprehension, all signals should be pointing towards understanding.

Readers should be able to stop at any time while reading a text to retell the important points.

When readers close a book and cannot remember what they have read, they should recognize this signal as needing to go back and reread.

✅How stories tend to go

Readers must understand text structure. When readers are interacting with fiction, they must understand plot structure and the basic elements of a story. These ideas will help the reader monitor their own comprehension as they move through the plot line.

Readers must understand text structures of nonfiction also. When readers tackle informational texts, they need to understand when they are confused. Readers must be able to navigate through the features of a nonfiction text and use those to help create meaning and understanding.

✅Losing track of characters

As readers move through the plot line of story, they need to understand that the main character will signal whether or not the reader is understanding.

If a reader recognizes that they have lost track of the main characters in a story, then they need to see that as a signal to go back and trace the characters steps through the plot.

Readers need a variety of strategies for tracking plot throughout a story and how the characters move the plot along. When readers can follow and track characters throughout a story they are better equipped to build a strong comprehension of the text.

Monitoring comprehension is a process that readers of all ages need to understand and revisit throughout their development toward reading proficiency. Readers must recognize the basic signals when meaning is breaking down while they read increasingly difficult texts.

Until next time...



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