Teaching Literacy Skills to Children: Helping Students Self-Monitor and Correct

Helping students become aware of their own abilities can be hugely beneficial because they'll be self-reflective for years to come. Explicitly describe the learning process for each of the following literacy skills so that students can monitor their own progress.

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How to Teach Literacy Skills

The skills needed for literacy include composition, reading fluency and comprehension. In addition to teaching these skills to students, it's also important to make them aware of the process so they can self-monitor their progress and correct mistakes. Have students complete self-evaluations for all of the following skills, which will help them take ownership of their own learning.

Fluency

Reading fluently means reading smoothly and quickly. Fluent readers know letter sounds and immediately recognize sight words, like 'she' and 'was.' For very young students, first model what fluent reading sounds like. Then, have them practice by reading aloud with expression. Some students may have to master very small chunks of the texts before tackling an entire page. After reading a text, have students reflect on how well they did and what they're still struggling with.

Fluent readers can also decode words quickly and easily. Teach students to break long words into smaller, more recognizable parts. To practice, give students a list of prefixes, base words and suffixes. Then, have them create as many words as they can.

Comprehension

Reflective readers often understand a text better because they're actively thinking about what's happening while they read. After they finish reading, have students test their own comprehension by retelling what happened in their own words. If they can't remember most of what happened, then the next step is to reread. Post the following questions around the room to remind students to be active and reflective readers.

Do I understand the plot?
Do I agree with the author?
What would I have done in this situation?

Composition

For young students, composition instruction focuses on forming letters on the page, putting spaces between words and relating the sounds to the letters. Later in elementary school, writing fluently means the sentences are easy to understand, structured correctly and use diverse word choice.

Use one-on-one conferences with students to help them improve their writing skills. Have the students set their own goals as writers and come up with a plan for how to achieve that goal. For instance, if a student's goal is to stop using the same words over and over again, then the plan would be to use a thesaurus while writing. By frequently asking students to reflect on their own writing, they will develop a habit of monitoring their own writing process.

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