Part 1: Actively Self-monitoring

Literacy Pages: The Series presents the second post in an 8-part series related to Reading Recovery and Teaching with Discontinuation in Mind from Early Lessons. Click below to check out our previous post.

Self-Extending Systems: Teaching with Discontinuation and Independence in Mind

Self-monitoring is an integral ability needed by students in order for them to make continuous progress toward acceleration and the discontinuation of intervention services. When readers use the meaning of the story, language structure, or visual information to check their reading they are demonstrating clear signs that they are becoming an active learner.  Active learning is essential  to making better quality responses, making self-corrections, becoming a more efficient problem-solver, and confirming one’s own reading.

Signs of self-monitoring

Children display both verbal and non-verbal signs that they are monitoring their reading.


While taking a running record it is helpful to write down any signs of monitoring that may not be part of the traditional running record coding.  These anecdotal notes help us to notice patterns of responding across multiple running records that we can build upon in future lessons. 

Providing footholds

Our students will find it difficult to monitor their reading if they have a limited understanding about how books, letters, words, and language work. We will have to help our students to develop “footholds” in order for them to be able to notice their errors. We can do this type of work from the very beginning.

Roaming around the known

During roaming around the known, we can support foundational learning by providing clear modeling of where to start reading and writing, which way to go, and one-to-one matching by finger-pointing under each word.

We have to carefully choose books with  writing that starts at the top left and includes clear spaces. Our students need explicit demonstrations that show how these early learning behaviors hold true in both reading and writing.

Through foundational learning our students will learn to look at print in ways that are helpful.  They will develop an understanding of directional rules and orientation of letters, be able to locate something that is known, and work with the spatial layout of the print on the page. These abilities are essential in supporting a student’s ability to self-monitor his/her reading.

IA child’s progress should not be delayed by undue attention to directional and locating problems. If such problems do exist, fix them early. It would interrupt progress if you had to come back and attend to this a

Early lessons

Early in lessons, we can help our students to gain control over a small core group of words so that they have anchors to use when reading.  We will extend our students’ knowledge of letters through their ABC book and their letter work at the easel. This work with understanding how print works and learning letters and words can be echoed in the child’s writing as you reinforce directionality, work on letter-sound correspondence and word learning on the practice page.

Providing opportunities

The most important action we can take to support our students with monitoring is to provide students with opportunities to detect errors on their own. We need to refrain from:

  • Jumping in quickly to point out an error
  • Making a sound of disapproval after an error
  • Saying, “no” after an error

During reading

Clay (2106) writes that we should allow the child to read to the end of the sentence before prompting them to notice an error. In the beginning, we are going to put a lot of value on noticing the error over the actual fixing of the error. It is helpful to keep in mind that self-monitoring behaviors should be reinforced even if the student does not read the word(s) accurately.  


Child:    Meow      said           *child stops reading and looks at the teacher

Text:     Meow      went      the      cat

Teacher:  “You noticed that didn’t look like ‘said’. Readers need to notice when their reading doesn’t look right. That word is ‘went’.”

During writing

As our students assemble their cut-up sentences we will once again provide them with more opportunities to monitor their reading. If a student makes an error with the placement of a word we can hold back, just like we do in reading, and allow the student to notice their error as they reread their message.  

Change over time

Over time, our students will notice errors by cross-checking multiple sources of information, which will lead to self-corrections or responses that integrate multiple sources of information. Our students will stop finger pointing, check words left to right with their eyes and in writing they will use their eyes rather than their fingers to make spaces.  Our teaching will need to support students as they make these changes. For example, our prompting language will become more general, “Try that again.” or  “You made a mistake. See if you can find it.”  

In Summary

In order to enable our students to make continuous progress, teachers need to value the importance of leaving opportunities for students to find their own mistakes as they read. Whether you are roaming around the known or in early lessons you can check on your own teaching of self-monitoring by asking yourself:

  • Do I see signs of monitoring on my student’s running records?
  • Am I jumping in to correct errors during lessons?
  • Do I see lapses in how my student looks across letters, words, sentences, paragraphs?
  • Are the letters and words that are known my student known so well that he/she recognizes them when they are a different font, size, color, or in an unexpected location?

If you enjoyed this post you may also want to check out:

Don’t Teach Strategies: Self-monitoring & Cross-checking (part 1)

Self-Monitoring: Who’s Fixing the Errors?

Teaching that Blocks the Path to Strategic Activity

2 thoughts on “Part 1: Actively Self-monitoring

  1. Pingback: Part 3: Syntactic Structures

  2. Pingback: Part 4: Rereading to Confirm

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