One very effective strategy you can use during a task, is giving yourself instructions.
We often do that in our mind without even realizing it. Asking students to verbalize their self-instructions, or to put them on paper helps both your students and you!
Students will become more aware of their own self-instructions and will get a chance to see how these thoughts are helping or perhaps obstructing them.
As a teacher, it is an opportunity to observe a self-regulation strategy that usually takes place in students' heads. It offers the opportunity to help students formulate instructions that help them towards their goals. By having them talk about their self-instructions with their peers, they might even learn new phrases they can tell themselves.
Wondering how you can apply this in the classroom? Have a look at how this science teacher helped her 6th grade students (age 11-12) put common self-instructions on paper in a very creative and effective way. The teacher was learning about self-regulation and self-instruction through the tMAIL mobile application. This mobile course suggested using an imaginary creature/animal like a chicken to encourage self-instructions. This class actually had a real chicken in the classroom (Corrie), so the teacher asked them what instructions they would give Corrie if the chicken wanted to learn everything about the cereals and earn a diploma. The teacher reported that some of the students told her that they should say to Corrie the same instructions they themselves use to concentrate, study and learn something.
Have a look at some students' tips for Corrie the chicken: