Posts Tagged ‘decoding’

What a joy it was to work with K-2 teachers at Pleasant View Elementary in Red Lion, PA right around Thanksgiving. We spent two days together planning and teaching small group reading lessons. We worked with the same groups two days in a row, so teachers could experience how to plan for connected lessons. The kindergarten group read a little book titled Fruit Salad and did interactive writing one day; the next day they reread the book and wrote a page independently about the book. Our focus was phonological and phonemic awareness and helping students apply what they know about sounds to reading and writing.

In 1st grade, the group read The Hungry Puppy, and worked on using word parts to decode words. I used puzzle pieces made from laminated sentence strips to help kids look at word parts and blending those parts together to read new words.

Our 2nd grade lessons focused on helping children “try the other sound” when decoding. These students were often using the short vowel sound to decode, but weren’t flexible in trying the long vowel sound if the short one didn’t make a word that makes sense. Our prompt was, “Try the other sound and make it make sense.” Students read part of a nonfiction book titled Eggs in this lesson. One day we created a “Try the Other Sound” chart of short and long vowel sounds in whole group because most students in the classroom needed this strategy. Then we helped one group apply this in small group the next day using small copies of that larger anchor chart.

Although our lessons focused mostly on phonics over these two days, this was what the groups we worked with needed. We included a “phonics warmup” before students read or wrote. For more ideas on these phonics warmups and information on how to choose a focus in small group instruction, see my book, Making the Most of Small Groups.

Counting the number of words in a sentence the kindergarteners will write together

Puzzle parts made of laminated sentence strip are used in a "phonics warmup" before kids read in this small group

Second graders read their "Try the Other Sound" charts together as a "phonics warmup" before they read the nonfiction book, Eggs

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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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