Metacognitive Skills - Monitoring & Repairing

Monitoring & Repairing

Brief Explanation

Readers pay attention to what they are reading, checking that they understand the text. They identify when understanding has been lost and apply strategies to solve the problem.


  • “For proficient readers, monitoring for meaning is a natural and often subconscious process.  Proficient readers listen to their inner voices as they read and make ongoing corrections and adjustments, and are aware of how meaning evolves.” (Keene and Zimmermann, p. 49)  The goal is to make this process subconscious and natural for all students so that they monitor and revise their thinking with a wide variety of texts.
  • “When successful readers lose comprehension, they stop reading, go back to the start of where meaning was lost, slow down, their rate, and reread the passage and check for understanding again” (Tankersley, 2003, p. 92).
  • Proficient readers can identify difficulties they have in comprehending at the word, sentence, and whole-text levels.  They are flexible in their use of strategies to revise their thinking and solve different types of comprehension problems.
    • They use decoding strategies and/or word analysis strategies to solve word and sentence level problems.
    • Proficient readers solve text-level problems by monitoring, evaluating, and making revisions to their evolving interpretation of the text while reading.
    • They compare their background knowledge with the emerging meaning and make adjustments to incorporate the new information into existing memory stores (Keene and Zimmermann, 2007).
  • Students of all ages should be explicitly taught what to do when comprehension is lost (Tankersley, 2003).  When teaching reading, we need to make what is implicit, explicit.  “Explicit instruction means that we need to show learners what we think when we read” (Harvey and Goudvis, 2007, p. 20).

    Clearly Identified Key Outcomes

    Use your programs of study for curriculum outcomes related to monitoring & repairing

    Please refer to CESD’s Essential Outcomes work if you are using the previous Alberta Curriculum (Grade 7+).

    Here is the New Alberta ELAL Curriculum, from the New Learn Alberta website, laid out like a scope and sequence.

    Balanced Assessment Practices

    • Teacher observation
    • Rate of self-correction
    • Reading conferences and conversations:  Can students articulate how they repaired comprehension?

    Purposeful Instructional Strategies


    • Explanation of strategy and why it is important to reading comprehension – and look at differences between strategies used with narrative and expository texts
    • Students understand that they will inevitably experience confusion and they will need to check for understanding as they are reading – monitoring and repairing along the way
    • Teacher can model this strategy as they read – for example:  cold think-aloud
    • Teachers pre-read the text so they can help guide and facilitate opportunities for students to monitor and repair


    • Think Aloud is a key strategy as students have the opportunity to listen in as we reveal how and when our comprehension needs repair and exactly what we do to get back on track.
    • Explicit instruction:  show kids how instead of telling them what to do.
    • Direct teaching: students need to understand that when you monitor for meaning, it means you have to continually attend to your understanding as you read, you need to know what your purpose is and how to solve problems and revise thinking when meaning breaks down. (Keene and Zimmermann, p. 63).
    • Co-construct a chart of specifically what to do if comprehension is lost
    • Frequently modelling the use of fix up strategies – such as:  look at the picture for clues, make your prediction about what the word might mean and ask yourself if it makes sense in this context, re-read the sentence, read on and ignore the word and see if you still understand the context, look up definitions of unknown words, ask for help from a peer or teacher, etc.  (sample tool)
    • First and second draft readings (Gallagher)
      • scan or gist reading on first read-through with some thought given to parts of the text that cause you confusion (highlight those areas that might be confusing)
      • second reading is more in-depth and is about deeper comprehension and focus on those pieces that were confusing during the first read-through
      • When listening to a student read do not stop them if they make an error that interferes with meaning.  Let them continue on for several sentences.  If they still have not noticed ask “Did that make sense?” If they answer ‘yes,’ ask them to re-read.  If they answer ‘no’ identify the error and discuss fix-up strategies.


    • Research indicates that graphic organizers are especially effective during post-reading activities, especially when constructed by the students rather than the teacher.  They facilitate higher order thinking, they serve as retrieval clues to promote learning and they are especially effective in teaching technical vocabulary.
    • Students could also be encouraged to illustrate their work on the graphic organizer or to use the word in a sentence that they have created.

    Personalization of Learning

    • Teacher observation
    • Individual reading conferences and conversation regarding strategy use
    • Individual modelling, guided practice, and feedback
    • Student choice with reading materials and strategies
    • Allow students to monitor for themselves, stop them at a natural break if necessary (end of paragraph, end of page etc.)