Self-Monitoring Checklist for Reading Comprehension

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Learning to monitor their own comprehension can help make students successful and independent readers. This lesson provides a checklist students can use to make sure they understand what they are reading.

The Purpose of a Checklist

Have you ever taught a student who knows how to decode and even reads fluently, but you just feel unsure about whether they're making sense of what they read? Once students are able to decode independently, we often let them go off on their own and trust them to develop comprehension skills. However, it is also important to make sure students know to keep themselves accountable for what they do and do not understand.

The purpose of a self-monitoring checklist for reading comprehension is not to make sure students understand everything; rather, it is to ensure that they know when their comprehension is misfiring so that they can reread, try a new strategy, or ask for help. The checklist in this lesson should be refined to meet the needs and abilities of your students, but it offers a useful framework for helping students attend to their own reading comprehension.

Reading Comprehension Self-Monitoring Checklist

Concrete Comprehension

As you read or at the end of each paragraph, page or chapter, stop and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I retell all of the important details that happened on that page?
  • Can I summarize the main point or ideas that I learned about on that page?
  • Can I name the major characters who played an important role?
  • Can I say something about each of the characters' traits?
  • Can I explain how the characters are connected to each other?
  • Can I describe the setting where the scene is taking place?
  • Can I describe the time frame in which the scene is taking place?
  • Can I name the major problem or conflict that is happening?
  • Can I describe one or more major events that are in the process of occurring?


As you read or at the end of each paragraph, page, or chapter, stop and check the answers to these questions:

  • Do I know the meaning of most of the words I have read?
  • Are there unfamiliar words on the page, and if so, what strategies did I use to figure out their meaning?
  • Would I be able to explain the meaning of these words to someone else now that I have figured them out?
  • Can I characterize the type of vocabulary that is generally used in this text?

Inferences and Connections

As you read or at the end of each paragraph, page or chapter, stop and try to think about the following questions:

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