Classroom Environment Lesson Structure Assessment Sample Comprehension Lessons

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 this module features video clips of Guided Reading lessons, as well as commentaries about the lessons by the teachers themselves.

While the sections of the module 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 sections.

Below we provide some suggestions for facilitators, to help prepare to lead a session using this section.




This section is designed to support a general understanding of the elements needed for children to take responsibility for their own learning, especially while the teacher is meeting with small groups or conferring with individual children. It is not an all-encompassing guide, but rather raises ideas and suggestions to encourage teachers to explore various ways to strengthen the children’s meaningful independence. The section is broken down into 7 power point segments: an introduction and 6 additional segments, each dealing with an aspect of building the classroom environment. Video clips of teachers discussing each topic are included in the power points. The 6 segments do not necessarily have to be viewed in order, so PLC’s could pick and choose those that they most need.

We would like to acknowledge the support of Cathy Chapman, Literacy Specialist with the South Carolina Department of Education, and the following primary classroom teachers from Pate Elementary School in Darlington, SC: Aimee Cook, LaQuetta Daniels, Irby Haynes, Lacy Purvis, and Byrd Taylor. These teachers’ classrooms and their commentary on their teaching are featured in this section.

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 Sessions:

Part 1: The Significance of Engagement

This introductory segment provides background on the correlation between engagement and reading achievement, and why engagement is so important to develop in our primary classrooms. We suggest places in the power point for you to pause the tape for teachers to talk about how they develop the elements of engagement that have been presented. You might want to deepen this discussion by having teachers prepare by reading one of the articles under “Suggested Readings” and discuss the article in this session.


Part 2: Student Responsibility for Engagement

This session is mainly composed of commentary by classroom teachers on how they help children take responsibility for becoming engaged readers and writers. Teachers reflect at the end of the segment by discussing how they could use the ideas presented, and specifically what they would list on a chart of what engaged reading or writing looks like in their classroom. You might want to provide chart paper for teachers to work in groups by grade level on creating these charts together.


Part 3: Book Choices

Teachers participate in this segment by experiencing the challenges of text that is too difficult for unsupported independent reading. The text used is posted under Supporting Documents as “Text for Independent Reading – Segment 3” in case you want to download copies of it for teachers rather than reading it from the screen. Teachers also stop and discuss how to accumulate books for their classroom libraries. Since schools vary widely in how well classrooms are stocked with books, you may want to spend more time brainstorming and actually making plans for increasing classroom libraries.


Part 4: Authentic, Meaningful Tasks

To extend the reflection at the end of this segment, you might want teachers to list all the centers or stations they currently have in their classrooms, and then analyze whether each activity meets the characteristics of an authentic, meaningful activity. An “Effective Centers Checklist” is provided in Supporting Documents. You may want to add characteristics to this list. After analyzing the current centers, discuss how they meet the criteria and any changes that could be made to make them more beneficial. As a group you may also want to create a list of possible centers that provide authentic, meaningful tasks.


Part 5: Physical Environment

You may want to take a gallery walk through some of the participating teachers’ classrooms after viewing and discussing this segment. Teachers can ask for suggestions for “room makeovers” regarding specific concerns that they have about their own use of space and walls. Participants might also want to draw floor and wall plans for making changes.


Part 6: Social Interaction about Literacy

If teachers are not using Turn and Talk consistently across the school day, it might be helpful to demonstrate how to initiate Turn and Talk in the classroom. Prepare with a colleague prior to the session to demonstrate Turn and Talk, and ask the teachers to play the students’ role in noticing what you do when you Turn and Talk. Then create a chart of their responses. Teachers can think about how these charts would differ depending on grade level of the children, what points might be added in the future, and how to use the charts regularly to remind students of effective Turn and Talk behaviors.