Over the last week, my students have been practicing the comprehension strategy Monitor and Clarify while reading a variety of texts in groups, individually and online. I have found this strategy to be a great one to begin the year as it gets students to become aware that they need to monitor themselves and then check for clarification. As I look out at the faces in my room I am seeing struggling readers make positive eye contact with me as I emphasize that ALL readers must monitor themselves and strong readers begin to see the benefits of slowing down to monitor their reading and thinking.
The strategy itself is simply called Monitor and Clarify, but I have added in a Pause. Just like we can pause a song or a movie, we can also pause our reading at various points in a text. Maybe we want to take in the scene or think about the actions of a character or consider what we may do in a similar situation. The pause is an important part of the reading process.
It is during that pause that a reader can decide what to do to help them to clarify. Strong readers tend to instinctively know what to do, so this pause is a way to get them to acknowledge the thinking they do as they read. For a struggling reader, the pause is a chance to look over a list of “fix-up” strategies such as reread, read on, look at the pictures for clues or look something up, and then follow through with one or more.
For each comprehension strategy, I like to make a simple logo, a visual symbol that represents what the strategy means and then I ask the students to create on too. (Often it will look similar to mine, which is fine.) For Monitor and Clarify I use an M and a C with two vertical lines between the letters to represent the pause, just as we see on a play/pause button on a DVD or MP3 player.
M || C
That’s it – a simple way to visually define the strategy and emphasize the pause.
In what ways do you explain or practice Monitor and Clarify?