Tag Archives: Guided Reading

It took EIGHT to get going! Cengage Presentations…you grow as you go


This term I completed eight presentations for Cengage and it took EIGHT! Each presentation improved as my knowledge and understanding grew. Anyone who reads my blog knows I’m a constructivist and it takes a constructivist to be a presenter!

Feedback is a powerful teacher and the more constructive the better. It’s like any learning experience, you grow as you go. The difference between presentation 1 and 8 is measurable but that’s what learning does and should do!

I met some incredible educators and thank them not only for their attendance but for their enthusiasm at the end of a long teaching day! If I can show something that can expedite assessment and provide ongoing recommendations for future learning around a student’s point of need, educators listen. If I can talk about comprehension and show Cengage reading materials which are differentiated for students’ ability, beautifully presented, rich in content and have multiple copies I’m going to.

I want all students to have quality reading material which is engaging, current and cost effective for schools. Have a look and do the maths!

Cheers Nina

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Nelson Literacy Directions Comprehension Years 3-6 Sample: Planning Reading Comprehension- Example and some questions answered!

This post has been written to answer specific questions I’ve been receiving, so I thought I’d share some ideas I’ve collected here….

Each day I’m learning something different about this resource. It’s like peeling the skin off an orange and pulling apart the segments. (What strategy?)

Explicit Teaching: Learners need substantial guidance. Below is an example of how NLDC Digital Texts for Box 5 can be planned across the year, linking the 6 comprehension skills, focus reading strategies and different text types.

First: Gather data – PM Benchmark RAR – Use Software to expedite analysis

Lesson Structure

WHOLE – Launch / Whole Class Focus

PART – Modelled / Guided/ Reciprocal Teaching /Independent Reading/ Read Aloud / Literature Circles

WHOLE – Reflection / Sharing

NLD Comprehension Box 5 example to get us thinking… ????????????????????????????????????

Term 1. Whole Class focus


Text Type: Narrative (imaginative)

Focus Skill: Making Inferences

Comprehension Strategies Focus: Cause & Effect, Figurative Language, Main Points & Bigger Ideas & Problem/Solution

Digital Text: Amy’s Brainwave (You’ll be using other supporting texts e.g. Big Books as well )

Term Planning Outline: Text Type, Reading Skill & Comprehension Strategies Example

Term 1: Text Type Focus for Reading and Writing – Narrative

page 1

Assessment of students: Benchmark recommendations for future learning – form groups of students with similar reading ability and learning goals.

Example Group Spread: Assessed for Guided Reading – NLD9/10 These levels are correlated to PM Levels and Reading Ages

 Example Below – Part: Guided Reading- Text Selection: Reading Age 10.1-10.3

Page 3

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To add to the mix there is the NLD Directions Exemplar Cards and Big Books, levelled novels and Guided Reading Card box sets.

Hope this helps! Any thoughts?

Cheers Nina


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Guided Reading- From one Teacher to Another: Guided Reading in an Early Year’s Classroom!

I’ve had a number of teachers make contact looking for support and my advice is as follows:

1.      Read my blog!

2.      Visit other grades and watch a number of Guided Reading sessions and then most IMPORTANTLY ask to be coached! You need to ‘do’ to grow, not just watch someone else model, however, that’s a great place to start! I’ve coached others and been coached myself!

3.      Visit Utube and watch Guided Reading videos. There are many terrific videos made by real teachers for teachers.

Background – My Program

There are a lot of different views about when students should start Guided Reading or ‘what’ can be called Guided Reading. I am a purest, and by this I mean I follow the Guided Reading Model as outlined in the Early Year’s program, but feel free to call what you do, what you want!

As stated in my previous blogs, I do not start Guided Reading with students until they can read a RR Level 3 book at an instructional level. This does not mean that my students don’t read in groups, they do, I just call it Shared Reading or a ‘Round Robin’.

It’s my belief that children need to know a lot about ‘how books work’ before tackling Guided Reading. Developing oral language via Language Experience is where I start.

Children need to have the basic ‘Concept’s of Print‘ in place and I teach this via Shared Big Books, Round Robin and shared small book reading. We’re in training for Guided Reading from the beginning of the year. Children are taught at their ‘point of need’, so groupings are flexible and change according to student needs.

To stop children comparing themselves against others, I don’t call my groups colours or names. My groups are: My Group (teaching group on day), This Group, That Group, The Other Group & Your Group. Sounds confusing, however, it works and I’m into ‘things’ that work. Each group sign has a little icon and that stops me from being confused! It’s also really important that young children and parents value the learning process more than the reading level.

When bringing a group of children to the floor I like to use their names as it’s more ‘about them’. Grouping children according to assessment is another post itself, making groups seems easy, but if you want to maximise student learning and accelerate reading development its quite complex and requires detailed assessment. It’s simply not putting children reading around the same RR level together. (Another post coming soon) However, I will mention the following crucial assessment tip.

Important Strategy for forming Groups:

It is important that you keep completing Running Records on students until you find their first Hard level, and then drop back to their last Instructional level. This is their level for Guided Reading. There is often confusion among teachers about, what a child’s actual Running Record instructional level is? If this doesn’t make sense I’ll explain all in another post.

 Guided reading- Explained – A Teacher’s Explanation!

‘The goal of guided reading is for students to use (reading) strategies independently on their way to becoming fluent, skilled readers.

The steps for a guided reading lesson are:

Before reading: Set the purpose for reading, introduce vocabulary, make predictions, talk about the strategies good readers use.

During reading: Guide students as they read, provide wait time, give prompts or clues as needed by individual students, such as “Try that again. Does that make sense? Look at how the word begins.”

After reading: Strengthen comprehension skills and provide praise for strategies used by students during the reading.’


Guided Reading: Good First Teaching for All Children by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Heinemann Publishers, 1996

Guided reading
‘The teacher guides students as they read, talk and think their way through a text. The teacher selects a text at the students’ instructional level, prepares the group for reading by establishing prior knowledge of the topic or text types, and briefly introduces the text then guides the students through it. Periods of independent reading are followed by discussion and teaching. Central to a guided reading session are the interactions between the group members.



●The teacher becomes familiar with the text prior to taking a guided reading session.

●Select an appropriate text: unseen texts are generally used.

●Students require an individual copy of the text. Texts should be selected at the students’ instructional level, i.e. one that the students cannot yet read independently.

●The teacher identifies the supports and challenges in the text and selects teaching focuses based on the students’ learning needs.

●The teacher leads a discussion on the topic of the text and students’ related experiences.

●The teacher asks questions and makes comments to encourage students to read closely.

●Students briefly discuss the title and summarise the plot.

The teacher provides:

●meaning support by talking through the content or plot

●structure support by asking questions that model the language structures of the text

●visual support by discussing any new or unusual words that appear in the text

The teacher makes explicit the purpose and teaching focus of this reading, e.g. to examine a certain text type or to analyse a character.’

Extract:Sofweb – Teaching strategies to enact apprenticeship in classrooms


NB: Why I use PM Levelled Books for Beginning ? (Extract from previous post- My top 10 Resources) We are re-housing a number of PM 1-6 books at present into bags.

Why I Like PM Books for Beginning Readers!

I have no desire to advertise, but sometimes it may benefit others if I do talk about a particular publication that supports and scaffolds student learning. For student’s reading from RR Levels 1-6, I prefer to use PM books. Why do I like PM’s for beginning readers? PM readers introduce new vocabulary slowly, high frequency words are embedded into each text and are built upon at each level. The pictures support the text and the levels themselves are accurate. The topics are child centred.



Photo- PM Level 5 Text –  Standard First Year of School (minimum)

Assessment- Victorian Government Reading Benchmarks.

At the end of the year all Prep students are benchmarked. The minimum standard for Victorian school children is RR Level 5. The photo shows a Level 5 PM text. The aim is for the student to read this level text fluently. As stated this is the minimum and many students achieve higher levels.  The minimum benchmark for Year 1 (2nd year of school) is Level 15 and Level 20 for year 2(3rdyear of school). All Prep, Year 1 and Year 2 students are benchmarked.  (Data Collection and Evaluation in Victorian Schools Explained) The Video below has some great ideas.


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My Top 10 Teaching Resources for an Early Years Classroom-The Must ‘Haves’!


 PM Big Books

I have no desire to advertise, but sometimes it may benefit others if I do write about a particular publication that supports and scaffolds student learning. For student’s reading from RR Levels 1-6, I prefer to use PM books. Why do I like PM’s for beginning readers? PM readers introduce new vocabulary slowly, high frequency words are embedded into each text and are built upon at each level. The pictures support the text and the levels themselves are accurate. The topics are child centred.

As mentioned in previous posts, my student’s don’t start Guided Reading until they are Instructional Level 3. Children need to know about books and how they work before starting Guided Reading. For very early readers, I use Language Experience books and Shared Reading. 



Large Sentence Strip Board

Absolute Must! The sentence strip board is essential to my program. This is a critical ‘must have’ for all junior classes, not just Prep. Our Language Experience class made take home books are built from the text displayed on our sentence strip board. Once the sentence strip board is filled and a take home book is made, the sentences are pasted on to a poster and displayed for future reading. Re-reading our sentence posters regularly greatly assists reading development.    

 Mini White Boards

 Mini white boards are fantastic! My students love using them because they can be wiped clean. Children often feel more comfortable ‘having a go’ at spelling unfamiliar words when it’s not ‘pencil on paper’, I can only assume this is because it’s not permanent. They find using white board markers exciting, ‘ah…’ to be five again!  The picture displays magnetic alphabet letters. These are great for making words, ‘breaking and chunking’ (future post). I have a set of eight mini boards, which I protect with my life. Well, not quite, but I do love them!



 classroom-2009-0101The Changing Dice

How do I describe this?It’s a large cube/dice which has a plastic slip on each face. I can insert words, letters, sentences, and vocabulary for writing, such as who?, what?, why? and where? ,numbers and signs. The uses are limitless. This is a fantastic teacher’s resource and a ‘must have’!


 Magnetic Words

They come in a pack of 100 and include all basic sight words. When my students are introduced to a new word, I display it on the white board. It can be peeled off and ‘stuck’ into a written sentence on the board. The children can use them on their mini white boards as well. They can be written on with a white board marker e.g. what happens when we add a ‘magic e’ to a word? For example: Mat – mate




Small PM Readers.

We’re all subject to budget constraints, but I believe having as many Guided Reading PM sets from Level 3 to 6 is essential for developing young readers. They are great for other levels, but just like any diet, we want to have variety and there are other excellent books on the market. Read Chall – Stages of Reading Develoment (excellent overview)


I Love Dr. Suess!

 I have a collection of Dr. Seuss books that I read ‘over and over’ again. These books are popular with my Preps (and all children) and often make their way into my student’s school bags at the end of the day. In the easier books the vocabulary is phonetic, rhyme is integral and simple sight words are repeated. Dr. Seuss books are also wonderful for the older readers. Check them out, if you haven’t already!   


Teacher’s White Board

Let it roll! I love my roll around white board. It’s magnetic, can hold and display posters and can be rolled around. It’s just the right height for young children to use when they contribute and all children can see it clearly when sitting on the floor.






I have lego and a large lego board. I use lego in my Numeracy and Literacy program as well as Developmental Play, for example they might build a story set and act out a story they have read. My kit includes little people, wheels, small boards, windows etc. Buy a kit which includes the extras.


The Big Book Stand

I was very excited when I found an old rickety Big Book stand that nobody was using. With a clean and a blue Velcro board, it was ready to go! Having a Big Book stand allows me to have a Big Book area (previous post). It means that Big Books are on display and can be easily read by children. It’s about making teaching easier! Once again, it rolls, so I can move it out of the way easily if I need to.  

 Next Top 10 – Upcoming Post & Home Reading – My way!

I hope you’ve got plenty of money in the budget!

Cheers Nina



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The Bigger the Book the Better!


Big Books engage young and older students alike. The reading of Big Books is included in my daily program. It’s a time to model reading aloud to children, or simply enjoy a story. It’s a time for shared reading. Reading aloud to children can be lost in the ‘crowded curriculum’, so like everything it needs to be planned.

Big Books support Inquiry and many companies are writing Big Books to support curriculum.

Reading Big Books enables the children to be involved, as many of these books encourage movement e.g. where it says ‘stamp, stamp, stamp or ‘wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, the children can do the action. Our Big Book reading can be very active! Many authors have realised this and have included action words.

The beauty of Big Books is they can be read over and over again. The text becomes quickly familiar to the children and they can read along.

Big Books encourage children to explore a text as a group. They can share ideas and learn from each other.





Using Big Books is essential when teaching the, Concepts of Print (Marie Clay)

Read about Concepts of Print at the Reading Success Network– it’s an interesting paper.

Reading Big Books is when I focus on, front and back, where to start?, reading left to right, first and last letter/word, reading from top to bottom and the difference between a word and a letter.

I also use Big Books to focus on writing skills e.g. we discover, what a sentence is? We learn about punctuation and rhyme. The opportunities to teach reading and writing skills through the reading of Big Books are endless.


Strategy: Big Books & Guided Reading

I use Big Books for all reading groups during the year. Guided Reading is introduced to my students only when they are able to read a RR Level 3 book at an instructional level. The children need a good understanding of ‘how books work’ before they can really benefit from Guided Reading. It’s hard to do Guided Reading when you can’t turn pages in order. So roll out the Big Books, they work!

Hint: If possible have a Big Book stand in a specific area of your classroom dedicated to Big Book reading. It makes it easier! I know from teaching young children that they need to move, and having different teaching areas, where the focus has changed helps them to re-engage quickly for a new teaching activity.

It may just be a different corner of your classroom. It’s the re-focusing on a new learning activity that’s important.




As my children’s reading ability grows, they love to sit in the Big Book reading seat and lead the activity. My goal with most learning situations is for the teaching activity to become student lead. I love being a participant. I had many future teachers in my class last year and it’s enjoyable and a little scary to hear them ‘speaking like me’. Posters are equally important and can be used in the same way as Big Books.  

Cheers Nina



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