You mean it’s all supposed to make sense?

Self-monitoring comprehension during reading means attending to whether the reading is making sense and using strategies to fix up any mixups.

The ability to self-monitor may well be the biggest distinction between effective and ineffective readers. Good readers make mistake all the time. But they know when the reading doesn’t make sense, and have a repertoire of strategies to fix up their mixups.

Too often, struggling readers don’t even realize when they don’t understand what they’re reading. Or they are just used to reading that doesn’t make sense.  We need to teach them to pause regularly to consider whether their reading is making sense. And if it isn’t, they need tools for correcting points of confusion.


Reading can be compared to using a remote control to watch a movie on TV!

Just as we hit PLAY to start the movie, we hit the PLAY button in our brains to start reading.  For any number of reasons, we might hit the PAUSE button to stop the movie temporarily, perhaps to answer the phone or get a snack. In the same way, readers need to hit the PAUSE button regularly to ask themselves whether the reading makes sense, before hitting the mental PLAY button to continue reading.

You can download the REMOTE CONTROL READING BOOKMARK by on the image on the right. But giving struggling readers an actual clicker helps turn passive reading into active reading. They can actually press the buttons to PLAY, PAUSE or REWIND in their heads. You might want to attach a label to the back as a guide to the icons.

Remote Control Reading


When a text is easy and the reader’s background knowledge robust, reading just CLICKS along. But every now and then, every reader hits a CLUNK – a miscue, a mistaken interpretation, a point of confusion. There’s nothing wrong with hitting a clunk, as long as you know that your reading isn’t making sense and you can go back and correct the confusion.

Have students use red and green sticky flags to monitor their own comprehension. As they read, they tab points of confusion with a red flag. If they are able to fix up their mixup, they should replace the red flag with a green flag.  After reading, it’s important for students to discuss places that confused them and what strategies they used to make sense of the text.

Monitoring clicks and clunks is one of four strategies in a protocol called Collaborative Strategic Reading developed by Janette Klingner and Sharon Vaughn. To read more, click here.


Some of your students will insist that they found no points of confusion in a text.  So create some!

Rewrite a passage to include some deliberate errors. Have the students hunt for and mark the points of confusion.  Then discuss why these errors don’t make sense and how they should be corrected.

Even good readers tend to have trouble with a task like this.  Good readers read to make sense of text.  So when something doesn’t make sense, we often read the correct word or phrase automatically.  Teaching them to be aware of confusions in an easy text gives them a tool to use when they encounter more difficult reading.

Click here to download a passage from The Bully that has been altered to provide students with self-monitoring practice. Can you and your students find at least four points of confusion?

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