Coming soon... Classroom Management 101

The Power of Targeted Reading Instruction: What to Teach

teaching Feb 08, 2017

" Jay sc- scr-am-ble-d, scrambled, Jay scrambled out of the way," read Alex. "Wow, you worked hard on that word and quickly reread to check! Does scrambled make sense?"


"Does it look right?"


"Does it sound right?"


"Keep up the hard work."

Great Reading Instruction

Making the time to sit with readers, listen and reflect is essential to great reading instruction. When I take time regularly to do this, I am assisting my students in accelerating their progress. Ultimately, the students are in charge of their progress by how often and how focused their reading practice is. I can't do that for them.

However, I am not in the business of  I can't. I am in the business of what can I do? By controlling what I can do and letting the rest go, I can impact student success immensely.

What can I do?

Well, I can provide time to read. Matching students with books they are interested in at their instructional level is an important step as well. Providing support with on targetinstructionand tracked goals for each student is also essential.  By carefully choosing my words as I am walking beside students on their journey, listening to them and their frustrations, helping them up when they fail, encouraging them and celebrating with them; I instill the desire in my students to become readers, thinkers and to want to stretch themselves and grow.

Yeah. That's nice, Lisa. But...

What are the skills and strategies you work so hard to instill?

I thought you'd never ask!  Today we're just dealing with what to teach. We'll talk about the how in the next series of posts.

Note: Just because your students are in Kindergarten or first grade doesn't mean you get to skip some of the "hard ones". That's where read alouds come in. See how in my next post.

Decoding Skills

Stretchy Snake: Stretch It Out

Lips the Fish: Try the beginning sound or sounds

Chunky Monkey: Look for chunks

Skippy Frog: Skip and Reread

Flipper Dolphin: Flip the Vowel

Trying Lion: Try a word that makes sense                

Eagle Eye: Look at the picture

Lisa at Growing Firsties has a cute free printable for these. Grab it here.

The 2 "F"s: Fluency + Phonics:

Punctuation: This is overlooked as a given. However, it really needs to be taught directly for many students. Practice: Reading with a partner to see who can read with the most exaggerated expression, using all of the punctuation.

Fluency Reads: This is where students read one text or passage several times over several days working to increase their reading speed and accuracy. This shorter text is used as a timed reading. This is the student improving their own time, not comparing students. I tell students it's a race against their former or "yesterday" selves.

Sight Word Practice: However you teach them, sight word knowledge is essential to fluent reading. To get the FREE sight word teaching system, sign up here.

Phonics Instruction: My favorite programs are:  Tattum Reading (LearnUp uses this program) and  Secret Stories. Both programs are easy to adapt to whole group, small group and individual instruction. They work for students just learning to read, older students missing pieces of the code and students with reading disabilities. I like most of the CRSuccess program (not spelling), but their customer service is extremely slow.

Read Alouds: Another underrated strategy is the read aloud. This is one of the most powerful tools in teaching reading, but is unused, under used or misused by most teachers. Not only does it provide teaching opportunities for both skills, comprehension and vocabulary; the read aloud also provides a model of fluent reading and reading as being fun. Powerful stuff indeed!

Comprehension Strategies

Inferring: As readers, we understand what the author is NOT telling us based on clues the author did tell us and our own background knowledge. Making Connections: Make connections with what you are reading: to yourself, to other texts and to the world.                                                                                                                                            Prior Knowledge: Use what knowledge you already have to connect with and understand what you are now reading. Visualizing: Creating pictures or a movie in your mind as you read. Synthesizing: Take the pieces you learned and put them together in a new way or apply them to a different situation. Determining Importance: Sorting through the information to decide what is important and what is not. Questioning: Ask yourself questions as you read to better understand what you are reading. Summarizing: Telling what are the most important parts.                                                     Evaluating: Making judgments about what you read and explaining why you think what you do.

Elements of Non-Fiction

Author's Purpose: The author's reason for writing the article or book. Fact and Opinion: What is indisputably true vs. what the author's personal thoughts on the topic are. Point of View: The perspective the book or article is told. Theme: The main message of the book or article. Main Idea: What the writer says about the topic. The most important thoughts about the topic.

Non-Fiction Text Features

In a non-fiction text, there are lots of supports and clues that students need to learn to use in order to comprehend the texts well. These features include: pictures, headings, title, subtitles, labels, index, glossary, table of contents, captions, and special print- bold, italics, all capitals...

Elements of Fiction

Setting: Where the story takes place: where, when, type of place Plot Structure: The structure of the story. (arrangement of events and actions) Characters: Who (people, animals, etc.) is in a story. (They can be round, dynamic, flat, or static.) Protagonist- The main character. Antagonist- The character who opposes the main character. Conflict: The problem in the story, the struggle. Resolution: The solution to the problem. Theme: The main message of the story usually about life, society or human nature. Point of View: The perspective the story is told from. (Who is telling the story and how do we know what is happening?) First Person (I), Second Person (you) or Third Person (he, she, they, it or a name)- Third person can be omniscient (all the characters' thoughts are open to the reader) or limited (only one character's thoughts are open to the reader).

Now you have "what to teach". Coming soon...  How to effectively integrate it all into a cohesive whole.

Teach joyfully,



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