Goals/Benefits Time/Structure Sample Lessons Routines Texts Assessment

Facilitator Notes

General Suggestions for Leading a PLC about the Lesson

Specific Suggestions Find Important Facts: Possible Responses to Questions  


General Suggestions for Leading a PLC about the Lesson: (These suggestions remain the same throughout all the lessons in Independent Reading (IR).)


  • Facilitator Preparation for the Session:
    • View the clips, decide on your own responses to the questions, and anticipate other possible responses from colleagues. Then review the suggested responses in the “Facilitator Notes.” Please note that the questions and responses given are suggestions only. Your insights and those of your teachers will shape the most meaningful discussions.
    • 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 and copy them for use in the session. The appropriate ones are noted and hyperlinked in the Possible Responses below.  There is also a transcript available for each lesson.


  • During the Session:
    • Before viewing each video clip, note the “Segment Focus” and “Questions” for the segment.
    • As you view each video clip, encourage teachers to take notes related to the focus question but also about their own questions, observations, and ideas.
    • After viewing each clip, have teachers turn and talk with colleagues about what they noticed, their questions and other reflections. Then lead a whole group discussion about the segment.
  • If there is a Teacher Commentary about the lesson segment, view and discuss it.
  • Concluding the Session:
    • Discuss how the session supports teachers’ current efforts or plans for independent reading in their own classrooms, what additional support is needed, and how you can facilitate that support.



Specific Suggestions for Find Important Facts: Possible Responses to Questions

Please note that the questions and responses given are suggestions only.  Your insights and those of your teachers will shape the most meaningful discussions.  



Mini-Lesson: Part 1 – Engage:

How does the introduction engage the students in the strategy the teacher wants them to try?

  • The teacher refers to important facts specific students discovered in the previous lesson. This provides a frame of reference for the students that is accessible and motivating.
  • She chose a book about a person, Neil Armstrong, with whom the children were somewhat familiar and interested in.



Mini-Lesson: Part 2 – Model and Prepare for Independence:

How does the teacher’s modeling prepare the students for IR?

  • The teacher models each step of the process of finding information to answer her questions, using text features to help her, and deciding what the most important information is to remember. She makes the process the students will follow with their own texts explicit by showing them exactly how it looks when she does it herself.
  • The teacher includes the students’ comments as well as her own as she reads and reacts. This allows her to keep the children involved and partially assess their understanding of what is an important fact to remember. Since this is not the first lesson about important vs. interesting facts (as seen by the anchor chart), she does not spend time having them turn and talk, so that they can get to their own reading more quickly.  If this were the first lesson, she would probably leave time for turn and talk, both to allow children to process the information and to better assess their needs.
  • The teacher refers to the materials students need and to the Independent Reading Guidelines Chart as reminders for getting started.



Independent Reading – Conferences 1-2:

For each conference, consider:

-Does the teacher focus the conference on the strategy from the mini-lesson, or on something else? Why do you think she made this decision?

-How does she support the child in implementing a strategy or strategies appropriate to reading nonfiction?

You may want to consult the teacher conference notes and the student sticky notes as you discuss these points.


Conference 1:

  • The teacher focused on helping the student infer meaning from the facts he had collected. He had several sticky notes with direct facts from the text, and she decided to make sure he understood what he was reading.  Without inferring the significance of the facts, it would be hard to decide which were important.  So working on inferring seemed like a good way to scaffold his thinking towards the strategy from the mini-lesson of finding what was most important.  Our purpose in conferring is not for the child to come up with “the right answer,” in this case, the most important fact.  It is rather to build his repertoire of strategies to effectively read independently.
  • The relevance of the mini-lesson is also partially determined by the text the child has chosen. This book was probably full of interesting facts, but without a specific purpose for reading, it may not really be appropriate to say that one fact is more important than another.
  • The teacher supported the student in thinking more deeply about the facts he found by first helping him read the text, encouraging him to carefully examine the illustrations for information, and then asking questions like, “Do you think the snake would eat the salamander?” “Why?” and “Why do you think it might have spots?” She also supported his recording of the inference by restating his response in a sentence that might be easier for him to write.  Although he was very shy, she gave him lots of time and encouragement, praised his use of illustrations, and helped him be ready to share his new learning with his partner during sharing time.
  • While this was a look book (as noted on her conference sheet) and the teacher did not want to bog down in decoding, she did use the teachable moment to note the r-controlled pattern in “garter” that had just been studied in class and show the student how to break the word in parts to figure it out. She might also have cued him if it made sense when he read “snak” for “snake” to help him use meaning when words, especially in a look book, are hard for him.


Conference 2:

  • The teacher focuses on the topic of the mini-lesson in this conference. Her initial investigation of the facts the child has already recorded reveals that she is on the right track in noting important information.  Although one might argue that the birth date is a small detail, the teacher has been emphasizing it to put the person in historical context, making it an important fact.
  • Biographies are very helpful in teaching children the difference between interesting and important facts. We read biographies with an often unstated but understood purpose of finding out why a person was famous and what led that person to be remembered.  With these questions in mind, it is easier to figure out why something is important in the text.  (See The Primary Comprehension Toolkit by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis, lesson 16, “Figure Out What’s Important” and an extended lesson in the Reading Comprehension Module on this website: https://readingrecovery.clemson.edu/home-2/reading-comprehension/introduction-to-comprehension-lessons/determine-importance/.)
  • The teacher supports the student in locating important facts by listening to her read a short section, asking her what she thinks is important, and expanding on why it is important when the child identifies “becoming a minister.” She also makes sure the child understands what a minister is, so she is not just copying information but understanding it.
  • The teacher takes the child through the headings for upcoming chapters and refers back to the Table of Contents, encouraging the child to make a note about each section. This will help her put together the important information from each part of the book and decide what is important overall.  (See Teacher Commentary Conference 2.)



Buddy Sharing:

What do you think the advantages and disadvantages are to buddy sharing?

  • Advantages:
    • All children can share simultaneously, giving each more time to talk and respond.
    • Every child can share from their reading, not only a selected few. (See Goals/Benefits Section – Success Criteria, Researcher Commentary for more about the importance of talk in IR.)
    • Students are more relaxed, so they are more likely to speak up and express their ideas.
    • All children are held accountable for using their time well and being prepared to share when they meet with their partner.
    • It’s fun and motivating!
  • Disadvantages:
    • The teacher has less opportunity to focus the students on the most positive examples she/he observed while conferring.
    • Students need to be more self-directed to stay on task than when the whole class is together with the teacher, and one child can still dominate the other! The teacher addresses these challenges by putting in place and continually practicing routines for buddy sharing (See Buddy Sharing Anchor Chart).
    • There are fewer common references among the whole class to use in the future as examples. (E.g., “Remember when ___ showed us…”)

Because of the importance of giving every child the opportunity to talk and respond about their reading, Ms. Whitman and many other teachers pair buddy reading with a very quick whole class sharing in their closure to the lesson (See final video clips of class and teacher commentary).




What are your overall thoughts or questions about the lesson?  What insights did you gain about independent reading?

In a PLC setting, you may want to keep an ongoing chart of teachers’ insights about IR, and add to it with each lesson that is viewed.