Archive for November 5th, 2009


Pleasant View Elementary School in Red Lion, PA

It was a beautiful autumn day in Red Lion, PA, where I had the privilege of working with wonderful teachers and their children in grades 3-6 today. The school was Pleasant View Elementary; the topic was guided reading.

It was my favorite kind of day– the kind where I work with kids!  The teachers and I worked together choosing a lesson focus, picking a text that was just right for the students, and planning a guided reading lesson. Then I taught the students in a small group while teachers observed, and we ended with debriefing– reflecting on the lesson and what both we and the children learned.

I got to teach three very different small groups today. We had a 3rd grade above-level reading group that read very well, but sometimes skipped words they’d never seen before. To guide them, we chose a text from the Internet about hamsters. Their class is getting a hamster, and the nonfiction text we chose was about getting a home for your hamster.

I showed students in this group how to highlight a new word they’d not seen before. (We used a highlighter pen, since they had a text printed from the Internet.) Then I showed them how to look carefully at the new word (usually a long word) and find the parts they know, covering up each part with their fingers after they’d read it, and then blending the parts together, using their fingers as needed. I modeled with a dry erase board and a few new words, as pictured. They helped me circle parts they knew.

When they began reading the article on their own, at first, some of them thought they knew all the words; but with guidance, they began highlighting words and trying to put the parts together. Their teacher told me that she was thinking that vocabulary was their need, but today she realized that both decoding and vocabulary were important for this group to focus on.

The students and I felt successful. They learned a lot about hamster habitats and are eager to read more tomorrow. More on the other lessons coming soon…


The lovely view outside of Pleasant View


The Pleasant View Crew- fabulous teachers!


Text from above-grade level guided reading


Some of the decoding we did together before reading

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I’m noticing that we’re getting quite a few fans from countries around the world, including a number of you from Denmark and Canada. We’d love to hear how you’re using literacy stations and small group instruction in your classrooms! Please post a comment and let us know.

I’ve worked in Canada several times and will be speaking at the upcoming Reading for the Love of It conference in Toronto on February 11-12, 2010. Hope to see some of you there! Please come by and say hello.

In fact, while working with the Edmonton Catholic Schools last year, we created a faith-based or worship station “I Can” list. We had quite a great time coming up with this idea!


Worship Station "I Can" list brainstormed with Edmonton Catholic Schools

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