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Teaching Tip: Self-Monitoring

Michele Dufresne

This month, I am going to explore the topic of self-monitoring. I recently started tutoring a beginning reader. You can follow Collin's progress on the Pioneer Valley Books' news page

When I first started working with Collin, he was quick to invent text. Now, he is starting to notice when something is not quite right. I know I need to encourage this tentative behavior. At the recent National Reading Recovery Conference I had the opportunity to hear Georgia State University RR trainer, Sue Duncan, present on the topic: You Could Be Right, You Could Be Wrong, But You Have Got to Know for Yourself! This long title says a lot and speaks to the heart of self-monitoring.

As teachers we often jump to helping children to correct, but if the student doesn't know that they have made a mistake, they will not try to self-correct! It is important early on to reinforce when a student notices an error and be less concerned with a child's ability to correct the error. Duncan suggests watching the students for these indications of self monitoring:

• stopping
• looking puzzled
• complaining (something looks or sounds wrong)
• repeating a line
• running a finger along the line
• appealing for help


Duncan suggests we ask ourselves these questions:

• "Are we finding the error for the child and therefore not assisting the child to find the error for himself?"
• "Are you focusing on fixing up the error rather than finding the error?"


Keep up the good work you are doing. Keep thinking: How can I make reading easy for my students to learn?

Asking yourself these questions as you work with a beginning reader can be very helpful.

I have a video of my student, Collin, reading Princess Pig and Marvin Pig. I am pleased to see him self-monitoring. Watch the video here and see what you think!

Michèle Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books  early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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