Emergent reading lessons have an ebb and flow. There is a 20-minute time limit and lots to get done. So…the ebb and flow can feel like being in the middle of a hurricane. However, you can’t make it seemed hurried…it needs to be productive.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I originally posted this in 2017. Since that time, I have tried to be true to my reading heart and really listened to the research on the Science of Reading and how using a 3-cueing system for teaching strategies can be harmful to students. I definitely knew the limitations of decoding on leveled text because students were expected to read words beyond their pattern knowledge and found myself introducing these words and patterns before letting the students read the books. AS ALWAYS, we should use what is best for students.
That being said, if you are still required by your school district mandates to use leveled readers…here is the best information I can give you for students reading at the emergent level. Please make sure to add phonological awareness and phonics to your lessons. AND make sure you are directing students to use the letters FIRST when reading new words.
emergent reading lessons: 20 Minutes
This is how I get it all in.
3 minute Brain Book Time – This is a familiar read. When they are called to the table, students know they should get their bag of books (a ziploc bag with the previous 5 books in it). They know to pull out a familiar read and “get our brain going.” Emergent reading requires rereads for comprehension. I will tell them who I am listening to and they others read quietly. Rereading familiar books helps with student comprehension and fluency. It also allows for automaticity in decoding and word recall. This is also time for me to do a running record for a formative assessment.
3 minute Sight Word Review/Introduction – Quickly review several sight words, then introduce a new sight word. I love using Jan Richardson’s sight word ideas: What’s Missing?, Mix and Fix, Table Writing, and Write it/Retrieve it. Each has it’s merits and place.
3 minute Vocabulary/Book Introduction – Give a basic overview of the book without retelling or “pretelling” the story. Sometimes I do a picture walk, but it isn’t a walk through every page. It depends on the topic. At Level C and above I rarely let them preview the last page. I always ask at least one question to prompt thinking. I also make sure to discuss any names. Remind students of word wall or sight word they may encounter and introduce 1 or 2 words that may cause stumbling blocks. Do not introduce every new word. If the new word is heavily picture and context support, let them practice using their fix-it strategies to determine new words on their own. Use the 5 finger rule for vocabulary: If there are 5 or more words you have to pre-teach, don’t teach it at all.
8 minute Independent Reading Time – Don’t miss this step. Let all students have the experience of reading the entire text. As you start independent reading time, you stagger the start time for each child and listen to the students individually for a sentence or two, making sure they are self-correcting and using background knowledge and fix-it strategies. I usually have the reading fix-it strategies on my table, then can give a physical cue (pointing to it) instead of a verbal cue. I do not ever direct students to ONLY look at the picture. They are taught to use other strategies and to cross check with the picture.
3 minute Reflection/Discussion – Always take time at the end of the lesson to give a high 5 to someone at the table who used a reading strategy, decoded an unknown word, and read with inflection or fluency. I also ask questions about the story, but at the early levels these questions are knowledge-based.
Finally, a 3 minute Word Work lesson can be substituted for the sight word review when necessary.
There you go: 20 minutes or Emergent Reading. (PS I always have a timer at my guided reading table.
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