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Introduce: Comprehension Strategy: Comprehension Monitoring

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Lesson Type: Introduce
Grade: K, 1, 2, 3
Group Size: Whole class or small group
Length: 30+ minutes
What to Do:
Teacher will model (“think aloud”) with a group of students using a book to demonstrate how students monitor their own comprehension.

Materials needed:


Objective/Purpose of the lesson

  • To teach students how to become aware of their own understanding during reading
  • To teach students to monitor their comprehension and to stop and think about their reading and know what to do when they don’t understand
  • To use “fix-up” strategies to help them repair meaning when it breaks down

Students need to know Why is it helpful to monitor comprehension:

  • It helps students maintain attention while reading.
  • It teaches students to use strategies to enhance understanding.

Students need to know What it is to monitor their comprehension:

  • Sometimes text does not make sense as you read it and students need to learn to recognize when this happens and stop to fix it.
  • Students should stop regularly and check to make sure that they understand what they are reading.

Students need to know How to monitor comprehension:

  • While reading stop periodically top check for understanding.
  • If you do understand, keep reading.
  • If you do not understand, use a fix-up strategy to help you understand the text better.

Students need to know When is it helpful to monitor comprehension:

  • As you read all types of text.

Helpful teaching tips for this lesson

  • Think about whether or not the text will be motivating and engaging for your students.
  • Include the steps for explicitly teaching a comprehension strategy in your instruction:
  1. Explain what the strategy is and why it is useful (see lesson “Objectives”)
  2. Model or think aloud as you engage in the strategy’s use. You will need to do this multiple times (see lesson “Introduction”)
  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.

Before modeling, the teacher might say,

Today I am going to read . . . As I read, I think 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 what I do as I read.

Teacher will then read aloud and model to students by “thinking aloud” how to stop and monitor her comprehension.


  • Teacher reads an appropriate text.
  • 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.

Once you have modeled the strategy provide time for the students to practice. Have them use one of the recording sheets (Comprehension Monitoring bookmark or the Fix-Up Strategy T-Chart) to monitor their comprehension and identify which “fix-up” strategy to use. It is important to give students time to practice while you provide support and scaffolding.


  • Fix-Up Strategy T- Chart
  • Comprehension Monitoring Book Mark
  • Anecdotal records, observation of sharing during small group, etc.


Remind students why we need to monitor thier 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