Teaching Tip: Assessing Students Remotely

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As school starts, many of you will need to assess students remotely. It is important to assess students before beginning formal guided reading lessons. You will need data to help make decisions about forming groups and targeting instruction for reading, word study, and guided writing. If you are working with beginners, you will also want to know which letters they can identify to help you plan Beginner Steps (Pre-A) lessons. Here is our Letter-Sound Assessment designed specifically for remote use.

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Teaching Tip: Preparing for the Unknown

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How can we prepare for the many scenarios our schools will face this coming year? In order to succeed, we need to have contingency plans in place that will help us be flexible. Our kids deserve this.

Here are some tools I hope will help you!

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Teaching Tip: Beginner Steps Lessons Using the Digital Reader

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Some of you have asked about how to remotely teach the Literacy Footprints Beginner Steps lessons, or what Jan Richardson, in her book The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading, calls Pre-A lessons. These lessons are designed to help students who know very few letters and may have limited book experience and/or limited English.

Adaptations will need to be made, but I do think you can use the Digital Reader for teaching Beginner Steps lessons. Here are some ideas for how to do each component of the Beginner Steps lessons remotely:

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Teaching Tip: Video Book Introductions

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Hi everyone,

Since the Literacy Footprints Digital Reader launched last week, I have been looking for a way to create engaging book introductions to accompany the digital reader in a format that displays both the teacher and the digital book on the same screen. As we all know, in a guided reading lesson, the book introduction plays a critical role in preparing students for reading the book by providing a synopsis, looking at challenging words, rehearsing unusual language structures, and reviewing interesting text features. But it’s also a great way to get students excited about reading the book—and this is why book introductions are such a powerful component of the remote lesson. (more…)

Teaching Tip: Teaching Guided Reading Remotely

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The concept of how to teach children to read remotely was not even on my radar a couple of weeks ago. As the coronavirus spread and schools began closing across the country, I began thinking about how we can best provide guided reading instruction to our students at home.

There are two very big challenges we as teachers need to overcome: giving at-home students access to high-quality reading materials and finding ways to provide literacy instruction that engages and motivates children to read and write. Here are some solutions to these challenges that will help ensure children continue to progress in their reading and writing skills in these unprecedented times.

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Teaching Tip: Independent Reading… with Books Students WANT to and CAN Read!

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There are many research studies that show a strong correlation between the amount a student reads each day and reading achievement. The good news is that teachers understand this and are making sure their students read for a significant amount of time each day. One way they’ve increased time for reading is by giving students less busywork (such as worksheets) and setting aside time for independent reading. Many teachers do this by providing each student with a book box filled with reading material to use during independent reading time. This ensures that students do not need to spend their reading time hunting for books and are ready to read right away.

During one of our recent Office Hours, Jan Richardson said there are two criteria for books to be selected for a student’s book box: first, the books should be ones they want to read, and second, the books should be ones they CAN read.

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Teaching Tip: Guided Writing: Learning about the Main Idea and Key Details

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Guided writing is a powerful part of the guided reading lesson. Evidence shows that high-quality writing instruction can improve students’ reading comprehension, reading fluency, and word-solving skills. Guided writing can help students integrate what they have been taught in word study by giving them the opportunity to utilize what they have learned. It can also improve students’ writing skills, provide them with instruction in the craft of writing, and help them dig deeper into the meaning of the text.

To illustrate this, I am sharing here a video of a Literacy Footprints guided writing lesson that Jan Richardson did with a group of students in Virginia. The day before, they had read a Level K story I had written called Quack the Brave Duck with their classroom teacher. You can read the book online here.

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Free Valentines!

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Every year, Pioneer Valley Books offers valentines as free downloads to teachers and parents. This year our eight adorable designs feature Bella and Rosie, Sally the Cow, Rusty the Robot, and more! Click here to visit the Pioneer Valley Books website and download your free valentines!

Teaching Tip: Learning to Apply What You Have Learned

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Phonics has been in the news a lot lately. It’s very important that we teach phonics. I don’t think any teacher disputes this! But phonics is not a goal in and of itself. We teach students phonics—or how words work—so they will learn how to decode unknown words while reading and how to encode unknown words while writing.

I learned so much about phonics and the importance of teaching students decoding skills when I was a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader. I also learned how important it is to be able to teach students how to apply these new decoding skills to authentic reading and writing situations. This intervention program has results unmatched by any other. In a Reading Recovery lesson, students read several books, write a story, and are given a brief, highly targeted “phonics” lesson. Throughout their lesson, students are instructed how to immediately apply the phonics skills they have been taught to real-life situations.

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January Office Hours Webinar

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Please join Jan Richardson and I next Tuesday, January 14, at 4:00pm EST, when we’ll be holding our free Office Hours webinar. Our topic will be Guiding Writers: Teaching with Intention and Intensity.

Including guided writing as part of your guided reading lesson extends comprehension and improves students’ writing skills. We will begin January’s Office Hours by sharing a short presentation on how to enhance students’ understanding of character traits, motivations, and feelings through writing. After the presentation, Jan and I will be available for a Q&A session on guided writing.

Visit the Pioneer Valley Books website for more information on this free webinar series, and click here to register for the January webinar!