Reading Process Classroom Environment Instructional Decision Making Sample Lessons by Level

Facilitator Notes

The Clemson Virtual Professional Development Library (VPDL) for South Carolina 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 majority of the modules feature video clips of Guided Reading lessons, as well as commentaries about the lessons by the teachers themselves. This first module, “The Reading Process,” provides important background for getting the most out of watching the video clips in the subsequent modules. We also provide some suggestions for facilitators, to help 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.


The Reading Process is divided into three narrated powerpoint presentations. They are sequential, but you might not have time to view and discuss all of them in the same session.

In the presentations, we suggest points at which to stop the tape and give teachers time to think, write, talk with colleagues, and then share with the group. You might want to stop more often than suggested to provide more opportunities for teachers to discuss their ideas about the concepts presented.

Suggestions for Extending Participation in the Module:

Part 1: A Self Extending System; Reading for Meaning

The main point of this segment is to frame literacy as a meaning-making activity, right from the start of reading and writing instruction. We suggest in the powerpoint places for you to pause the tape for teachers to jot down ways they make meaning central in their classrooms, and actions that interfere with meaning being central. Alternatively, you could set up charts around the room and have teachers in small groups brainstorm what makes meaning central and what inhibits it. Either way, allow time for discussion and sharing, and explore questions and explanations about why different practices encourage or inhibit the perception of reading as a meaning-central act.

Part 2: Proficient readers are flexible and strategic

Teachers participate in this session by noting the strategies they use to figure out a sentence where the letters for many of the words are missing. This serves as an introduction to the three basic information systems: meaning, visual, and structure. There is a practice slide provided to support teachers who are new to identifying information systems.

For additional practice, you might have teachers bring some of the books they use in their classrooms to the session. They can identify errors that children are likely to make when they read these books and then analyze the information systems that children employ in making those errors. By using the books that they have heard their children read many times, teachers may link more closely to these concepts and their significance.

Part 3: Implications of the reading process for the classroom

The exploration of the different types of reading and writing instruction is very brief in the slide show. A chart that gives more extensive information on the procedures and benefits of each of the approaches to reading is found under Supporting Documents. This chart was derived largely from pages in Guided Reading by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, which are referenced also in Suggested Reading. Even almost twenty years after its publication, Guided Reading remains one of the best resources for understanding the role of these various approaches. To elaborate on the significance of each type of reading and writing instruction, you might want teachers to jigsaw the different types, and use the charts and/or the pages from Guided Reading, as well as their own experiences, to develop their own lists of the important characteristics of each approach and the benefits of using it.

It’s also important to link this section to having teachers examine how they use these different reading and writing opportunities in their own classrooms. This is a big topic, and may be out of the scope of one PLC conversation. However, use this section of the module to open the dialogue and encourage teachers to closely observe what they are accomplishing in each aspect of their literacy instruction to consider the balance they are achieving and any changes that might be helpful.