Facilitator Notes for PLC – Levels 1 – 2


The Virtual Professional Development Library (VPDL) for Classroom Teachers was designed to support Professional Learning Communities. As we know, powerful learning can occur when we view others’ teaching and analyze it together with colleagues! For this reason, the possible responses to the questions that accompany each clip are not only hyperlinked to the questions, but are also given here under “Facilitator Notes.” In this way, the Facilitator of a PLC can more easily prepare to lead a session using one of the modules.

While the modules do not need to be viewed in order, we do recommend that teachers are familiar with the ideas in “The Reading Process,” “Engagement and Independence: Creating Classroom Environment,” and “Formative Assessment,” before working through the specific levels of Guided Reading. Of course if these concepts are well established in your school community, you may not need to view all of those introductory modules.

To lead a Guided Reading module, we suggest that facilitators do the following:

  • Before the Session:
    • View all the clips from a lesson. (Level 1 and 2 lessons are 1-day lessons; most other levels are 2-day lessons.)
    • Read “General Purpose” and “Procedures” and the question before you view each clip.
    • After viewing the clip, decide on your own responses, and anticipate other possible responses from colleagues. Then review the suggested responses in the “Facilitator Notes.” Think about additions or clarifications that would be appropriate depending on the needs of teachers. Please note that the responses given are suggestions only. In many cases, the questions and ideas from the participants or your own insights as you view the segments may shape the most meaningful discussion relevant to the issues confronting your particular group.
    • A Teacher Commentary video clip accompanies some of the lesson clips. In this Commentary, the teacher of the lesson provides her own insights into the segment of the lesson.  We recommend viewing the Commentary after the discussion of each lesson segment.
    • You may want to download some of the Supporting Documents (especially the running record and the book pages) and copy them for use in the session. If you have copies of the books available, you could use the actual books instead. If teachers will not have their own computers available, you may also want to download and copy the other Supporting Documents, including the correlations to the Standards, lesson plan, book and reader characteristics, and writing samples. There is also a transcript available for each lesson.
  • During the Session:
    • We suggest in the Introduction, that before viewing any of the clips, you give teachers time to collaboratively review the Book and Reader Characteristics for the given level, read the lesson text, and discuss how the book characteristics apply to the specific text and the types of problem solving students will need to do in the text.
    • Give teachers time to read and discuss the “General Purpose” and “Procedures” and address any questions.  Then pose the question given before each clip.
    • View the video clip. Encourage teachers to take notes related to the focus question but also about their own questions, ideas, and thoughts as they view the lesson segment.
    • Have teachers turn and talk with colleagues after the clip about what they noticed, their questions and other reflections. Circulate to support and identify responses that will engage the whole group in deeper discussion. Then lead a whole group reflection about the segment.
    • If there is a Teacher Commentary about the lesson segment, view it and provide time for discussion about it.
  • Concluding the Session: Be sure teachers leave ready to implement new learning from the session. You might conclude with some of the following:
    • Provide time for teachers to jot down their most significant insights from the session and any lingering questions, and then share with colleagues.
    • Discuss how teachers plan to implement new approaches from the session.
    • Arrange for teachers to plan lessons collaboratively based on what they viewed and discussed in the session. If possible, teachers could watch each other’s lessons and provide feedback, or have everyone come together again to reflect on the lessons they taught.
    • Plan to teach a demonstration lesson based on the session for additional support.

The VPDL is also meant to be used flexibly by teachers on their own schedules. Teachers might find the Library useful as a reference to review on their own:

  • As a guide to teaching procedures in guided reading that they have not yet tried;
  • As a refresher for teaching appropriate procedures at different levels;
  • To promote reflective teaching as they analyze the teaching language and teaching moves of the teachers in the videos and listen to the interviews with those teachers.

Discussions from the Video Clips:

Possible responses are given below to the “Questions to Consider as You Watch” from the Lesson Video Clip.

Introduction to the Lesson:

Review Book and Reader Characteristics for Levels 1-2 and the book, A Day at School, or other Level 1 books.

Click here for the text only (without illustrations). Use copies of the book if you have them (from Houghton Mifflin Journeys). Discuss which characteristics apply to this text (e.g., repetitive language pattern, repeated high-frequency words, direct picture support). Also discuss examples of likely opportunities for students to do problem-solving work in the book (e.g., making a 1-1 match, noticing some features of words such as the first letter in “build,” predicting what makes sense). You may also want to bring other Level 1 books and discuss how the listed characteristics apply to them and what work you would want the children to do in these texts.

Provide copies or display the teacher’s lesson plan to follow along with the teacher on the video clip as she explains the lesson framework.

After viewing the introductory clip – “Introduction to the Lesson”:

  • Discuss the teacher’s focus and how it supports children at this level. Suggest that teachers keep the lesson focus in mind as they watch the various segments of the lesson, and think about how each segment contributes to the lesson focus.

Working with Letters:

What procedures are used in this letter-matching activity? What goals do these procedures support?


  • Students match letters that are alike using magnetic letters.
  • The teacher asks each child to name the letters that they have matched.
  • The teacher practices letter formation with the children.


  • To provide a useful routine that gets the students focused and that they can start immediately without teacher direction;
  • To practice looking closely at print to discern how letters look and how they are alike and different from each other;
  • To make letter recognition and formation more automatic through supported practice– building visual memory.

After viewing and discussing the lesson clip, view the Teacher Commentary – “Working with Letters” clip.

Working with Sounds:

What teacher moves and teacher language make this sound sorting activity effective?

Some possible examples – the teacher:

  • choose two letters with distinctly different sounds;
  • used letter sounds that the students had practiced in the letter matching activity;
  • choose pictures of words that were likely to be familiar to the children;
  • named each picture as she distributed them to the children;
  • reminded students of the procedure she expected them to follow: naming the picture, naming the letter, saying the letter sound, and then placing the picture under the right column;
  • reinforced the expected procedures and focused more on students saying the sound than on placing the card in the right place (which has a 50% chance of being correct just by guessing!)

After viewing and discussing the lesson clip, view the Teacher Commentary – “Working with Sounds” clip.

Working with Books – Book Introduction:

What elements of the introduction set the children up for success in independently reading the book? What work does the teacher leave for the students so that they would have to problem-solve for themselves?

Ways the teacher sets the students up for success:

  • Introduces the characters and gives a quick, clear summary of the story;
  • Activates prior knowledge by asking each child, “What can you do at school?”
  • Models how to use the illustrations to predict words on the page;
  • Clarifies confusions over vocabulary (“blocks” when the child thinks the picture is of presents)
  • Points out the repeated language structure (“We can …”)
  • Has the children frame “we” and “can”, referring back to their prior knowledge of these high-frequency words from previous weeks’ word walls;
  • Celebrates a child’s recognition of the “b” in “build”;
  • Cues children to using their finger to make a 1-1 match with each word they say.

Work specifically left for the students to do:

  • Make a 1-1 match as they read;
  • Use early concepts of print to read from left to right and turn the pages appropriately;
  • Recognize “we” and “can” and use the pictures and book introduction to predict what the characters can do at school;
  • Use letter knowledge to help them with specific words (“b” in “build”)

After discussing these elements, watch the Teacher Commentary – “Decisions about the Book and the Book Introduction” clip. Note how the teacher explains how she chose the book to support her goals for the lesson, and how she observed the children’s actions at points related to her focus (such as whether they used the “b” to help with “build” and if they made a 1-1 match at “We can play.”).

Working with Books – Reading the New Book:

Why is it important that the children each read on their own, not “round robin”? Using the “Reader Behaviors” column of the “Book and Reader Characteristics” chart, what appropriate behaviors do you notice the children doing? What does the teacher say and do to support behaviors students are working on?

“Round Robin” reading is not used in Guided Reading for many reasons. A few of the most important are listed below:

  • Children will hold onto the meaning of the text better when they read the whole text for themselves, rather than listen to other students.
  • Children will use their strategies for processing the text much more effectively if they read continuously. In round robin reading, students often stop for correction by the teacher, or other students chime in with the correct words, rather than the student who is reading engaging in monitoring, rereading, and other problem solving. The teacher can better assess what each child does at difficulty and provide meaningful support.
  • When a child is reading for the group, he/she is performing, not reading the way a reader naturally reads. Embarrassment, nervousness, and other emotional issues get in the way. Always provide individual practice before children read aloud to others.
  • Children get bored waiting for their turns and more behavior management issues are likely to arise.
  • Children’s time is wasted. Instead of reading for the entire time, some will just wait for their turn and not be engaged the rest of the time.

Reader Behaviors: (these are some examples; others are also possible)

  • Using basic concepts of print: front to back, left to right
  • Making a 1-1 match
  • Recognizing some high-frequency words;
  • Remembering and using the repetitive language pattern (“We can…”)
  • Using the pictures to predict the words that change from page to page;
  • Noticing some features of print – using the “b” to help them predict the word “build” in combination with the picture.

Teacher Support: (these are some examples; others are also possible)

  • ”See that ‘b’ there? That helps you, look – that helps you know that word is ‘build’”
  • ”What are they doing?”
  • ”I’m so proud of your pointing”
  • “Earlier, you told me that you knew what that [letter b] was. What are they doing with the blocks? So what’s that? b. Doesn’t that help you?”

The teacher mainly gives support to encourage 1-1 matching and beginning to look at the first letter of the word in combination with the picture to predict the word.
After viewing and discussing the lesson clip, watch the Teacher Commentary – “Teacher Support during Reading of the New Book” clip.

Working with Books – Teaching Point:

What are the teaching points? Why do you think the teacher chose them?

Teaching points:

  • 1:1 matching: “I like the way your finger and your mouth matched…”
  • Paying attention to print and using the first letter of a word in addition to the picture to predict the word: “I also liked the way ___ noticed that on this page, when they were talking about what they were doing with the blocks, she knew that the “b” would help her there…”

Why the teaching points were chosen:

  • Making a 1-1 match at this stage is critically important. While many children will be able to point to each word easily, for some children this recognition of the concept of a word and reading words left to right is a major stumbling block. Dr. Marie Clay explains that pointing word by word interacts with phonemic awareness in early reading. “Having the eyes pick up the visual information from left to right across a word should be matched up with saying the word from the first through to the last sound!” (2005, p. 16)1. The teacher in this lesson wants to be sure that this match is firmly in place before the children are expected to do more complex problem solving with the text.
  • The children are progressing in their 1-1 matching and by praising what they are doing, the teacher is encouraging them to continue to match.
  • The children are beginning to recognize some letters in the text and the teacher is calling attention to how useful these letters really are!
  • The focus of the lesson is on making a 1-1 match and beginning to look more closely at text. So the teaching points reinforce everything the teacher has been emphasizing throughout the lesson.

After viewing and discussing the lesson clip, watch the  Teacher Commentary – “Teaching Point” clip.

Interactive Writing

Why did the teacher choose the sentence “We can read books now.”? Why is interactive writing effective for students at this level?

Why did the teacher choose the sentence “We can read books now.”?

  • It relates to the topic of the book the children just read.
  • It uses the two high-frequency words they used throughout the story (“we” and “can”).
  • It uses words that start with the letters from the sound sort and letter matching activity.
  • It challenges the students with new learning, especially since it is longer than most of the sentences they are reading in their books.
  • It is short enough for students to follow and to be done within the time frame of the lesson.

Why is interactive writing effective for students at this level?

  • Interactive writing allows all children to engage in writing texts by contributing what each of them is able to do. It provides a scaffold helping them to develop towards independence.
  • It provides a model of what writing is all about, from constructing stories to the many skills involved in recording them on paper.
  • It reinforces the strategies taught in the reading portion of the lesson, building an understanding of the reciprocity between reading and writing. Children learn that reading helps their writing and writing helps their reading.

After viewing and discussing the lesson clip, watch the  Teacher Commentary – “Choosing the Sentence to Write” clip.

The Cut-Up Sentence

What is accomplished in the cut-up sentence part of the lesson?

The cut-up sentence reinforces many important aspects of the lesson:

  • Looking carefully at print
  • Reading from left to right
  • Punctuation and capitalization
  • Recognizing high-frequency words
  • Using initial consonants to recognize words
  • Becoming familiar with sentence structure
  • Making a 1-1 match

After viewing and discussing the lesson clip, watch the  Teacher Commentary – “The Cut-Up Sentence” clip.

Final Reflections on the Lesson

Watch the Final Reflections clip. Then discuss your own reflections on the lesson.

Some points to discuss from the teacher’s comments might include:

  • Referring to the word wall during the lesson helps children in learning high frequency words so they can read and write them quickly. As the books become more difficult, these words become “anchors” that the students don’t have to work on, so their attention is freed up for other challenges.
  • It is essential to plan for a clear focus and prepare all materials in advance in order to keep the pace of the lesson going, accomplish all the different parts in twenty minutes, and reinforce specific skills and strategies across various activities.
  • Taking observational notes, particularly on how children are doing with the focus points of the lesson, helps the teacher know what to prompt and how to incorporate student needs into following days’ instruction.


1 Clay, M. M. 2005. Literacy Lessons, Part Two. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann