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Introduce: Comprehension Monitoring using About Trees

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Lesson Type: Introduce
Grade: K, 1, 2, 3
Group Size: small group
Length: 20-30 minutes

What to Do: Using the book About Trees the teacher will model (“think aloud”) with a group of students how to monitor their own comprehension.

Materials needed:


Objective/Purpose of the lesson

  • The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the strategy of comprehension monitoring.
  • The teacher will use explicit instruction to introduce the strategy of comprehension monitoring.
  • Students will learn what the strategy is, why it is useful, and how the strategy can be used in the future.
  • The teacher will model the strategy by using a think-aloud.
  • Students will read an informational text or part of a text and practice monitoring their comprehension with support from the teacher.

Helpful teaching tips for this lesson

  • Teach students about the various features of informational text (headings, bold print, table of contents, glossary, index, captions, etc.) and how we might approach the reading of informational texts differently than how we read a narrative. For example, we might choose to read sections of the book out of order, based on our purpose for reading.
  • Begin teaching this strategy by using the “Trunk” section of the book About Trees and continue through the section on “Roots”.
  • Follow the steps for explicitly teaching a comprehension strategy in your instruction:
  1. Explain what the strategy is and why it is useful
  2. Model or think aloud as you engage in the strategy’s use. You will need to do this multiple times
  3. Coach students as they engage in the strategy’s use – guided practice. Release responsibility to students as they become more able
  4. Prompt students to use a strategy when it is appropriate to the task – provide independent practice
  5. Encourage flexible, independent use of strategies by having students use, and then discuss strategies they use as needed at different points in their reading


  • To teach comprehension monitoring, the teacher, when reading aloud to the class or small group, will demonstrate the strategy by interrupting her own reading to “think aloud”. The teacher will articulate to the students her own awareness of difficulties in understanding words, phrases, clauses, or sentences in a text. When the text poses a comprehension breakdown the teacher will employ a “fix-up” strategy to solve the problem.
  • Teacher states the what, why, when, and how of comprehension monitoring:
Today we are going to learn how to monitor our comprehension. This is a comprehension strategy that will help us become aware of our own understanding of what we are reading and to stop and think about what we do not understand and try to fix it so we can understand. This will also help us to understand the main ideas, or most important ideas, that the author is trying to tell us. We want to remember and be able to use these important ideas in the future.


Teaching the comprehension strategy using a Think Aloud

  • Today I am going to read from the book, About Trees. Let’s think about all the different kinds of trees we see on our way to school or in our neighborhood. What do we know about trees? (Students respond). As I read pieces from our book today I will be thinking about what I am reading and if something does not make sense or is confusing to me I will stop and try to fix the problem. While I am reading, if something is confusing to me I will stop and talk out loud to show you how I monitor my comprehension. Watch and listen to what I do as I read.
  • Teacher reads from the section on the “Trunk” and reads through to the first two sentences under the “Roots” section.
  • Let’s all look at page 10. When I read the first two sentences, Trees need soil to keep growing. Roots are part of the highways. I was confused by the word highways. Trees don’t have highways, do they? When I am confused about something I am reading I need to stop and fix-it. I know that I can use one of the fix-up strategies. So I can either reread and think…no, that still does not clear up my confusion. I can read to the end of the page, think and see if I am still confused…I read to the end of the paragraph and that still did not help. So now I am going to try to reread some of the text I already read to see if that clears up my confusion. So I go back and reread page 9 and on this page I found where it talks about active highways trees have that help keep a tree alive even if the middle is hallow. Rereading helped clear up my confusion. Now you try. Read on and stop where you do not understand something and talk with your partner about which fix-up strategy you will use to help clear up your confusion.
  • Teacher explains the “fix-up” strategies (When I do not understand what I am reading, I will apply a “fix-up” strategy to make sure I understand before I continue reading). Teacher will model the following “Fix-Up” strategies:
    • Reread and think.
    • Read to the end of the page, think, and see if you are still confused.
    • Ask yourself a question about what is confusing you and reread to answer your question. You can use forward clues as well as backwards clues.
    • Use context clues or the dictionary to figure out the meaning of a word you don’t know. Again, using forward clues and backward clues.
    • Use the strategy for decoding multi-syllabic words on a long word you think you have not coded correctly.
  • Students work in pairs to read the next two section of About Trees. They need to practice using fix-up strategies and record their responses on the T-Chart. It is important to give students time to practice while you provide support and scaffolding. This will also help determine whether students need more modeling.
  • After students have a chance to practice, bring all of the students back together to discuss how they monitored their comprehension and which “fix-up”strategies they used to help repair their comprehension.


  • Students complete the Fix-Up Strategy T-Chart and discuss with a partner.
  • Anecdotal records, observation of sharing during small group, etc.


Remind students why we need to monitor their comprehension, how it will help them be better readers, and how they can use this strategy to better understand the main ideas the author is trying to tell us.

Possible next steps or extensions to this lesson

  • Do your students need this strategy modeled again?
  • Do your students need more time to practice with more support by you?
  • Are your students able to identify when to implement a “fix-up” strategy?

Professional learning community activities

  • Select a research-based reading from the provided list and reflect on the following questions:
  • What was something you learned from this reading that you will apply to your classroom?
  • What challenged your thinking and why?
  • What about this topic would you like to further explore?
  • Once this strategy is introduced to your students and you have provided guided practice for your students, share with your PLC the strategies you may have used successfully with your students to help them engage in comprehension monitoring.

Possible reflection questions for you PLC might be:

  • Have you modeled the strategy appropriately?
  • Have you been releasing responsibility to the students?
  • Have students been using the appropriate “fix-up” strategy when comprehension monitoring breaks down?
  • Engage in video sharing by taping yourself teaching this lesson. Choose a clip to share at your PLC and ask your colleagues for feedback on a specific piece of your lesson.

Research that supports this lesson

Almasi, J. F. (2003). Teaching Strategic Processes in Reading. New York: The Guildford Press

Block, C.C., & Pressley, M. (2001). Comprehension instruction: Research–based best practices. New York: Guilford.

Duke, N.K., & Benneett-Armistead, S. (2003). Reading and writing in the primary grades: Research-based practices. New York: Scholastic.

Oczkus, L.D. (2003). The four reciprocal teaching strategies. In Reciprocal teaching at work: Strategies for improving reading comprehension. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Pressley, M. (2002). Reading instruction that works: The case for balanced teaching, second edition. New York: Guilford.

Stahl, K.A.D. (2004). Proof, practice, and promise: Comprehension strategy instruction in the in the primary grades. The Reading Teacher, 57, 598-609.

This lesson was created by:
Minnesota Center for Reading Research
University of Minnesota
Bobbie Burnham, Reading Specialist
Barbara M. Taylor, Director