Strategy #2: Using self-talk

Metacognition involves the self-talk that occurs when a person reads. Self-talk is effective in helping students recognize both moments of confusion as well as moments of understanding. Examples include internal statements such as: "This is an interesting idea. It seems to relate to _____ in the previous chapter. I'll have to flip back and see how much the two are the same," or "Because this says ___, I predict the next section will be about ____."

Self-talk also occurs when a student doesn't understand a reading. Statements such as: "I'm confused. I do not completely understand _____. I will re-read, look up vocabulary, and/or write a question and find the answer" will help them pause and rethink what they have read.

Here are some directions you can provide your students to help them with self-talk, such as asking questions and making predictions:

1. When you reach a point when your reading is confusing to you, stop for a moment, and mark this on your text. Think to yourself, "What is this trying to tell me? How does this relate to the previous information?"

2. Begin re-reading the previous passage, followed by the one you are struggling with. Does it make sense now?

3. Reflect for a moment and consider, "What might the writer tell me next?" Look for clues to identify where you believe the reading might be heading.

4. Read the next section of your text to see if your prediction was correct. If it wasn't, how was it different? Why was it different? Review your clues.

5. Return to the confusing passage and write a short summary of the content.

While working through these strategies, students may realize that they need to adjust their reading rate by reading slower, and they may need to repeat this process as they work through the entire reading assignment. In any case, "self-talk"--this process of asking questions, considering process and strategy, and gauging learning--should take place throughout the reading. By employing these strategies and solving their own failures in understanding, weak readers can develop the confidence to become strong readers.