Goals/Benefits Time/Structure Sample Lessons Routines Texts Assessment

Facilitator Notes

General Suggestions for Leading a PLC about the Lesson

Specific Suggestions for Learning from Nonfiction, Grade 2: 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 Learning from Nonfiction, Grade 2: 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.  


Before the Lesson:  What questions do you have based on the background provided by the teacher?  What might you watch for as you view the clips of the lesson?

In a PLC, you may want to discuss the questions that come to mind as you listen to the teacher give some background on the children’s progress from November to March of the school year, and initiating the study of nonfiction.  (You will hear more about what she’s done already with nonfiction in the Mini-Lesson commentary).  Of course, these questions will depend on the particular needs of the group, but some questions to think about as you watch the clips might include:

  • In what ways is the teacher able to support the ELL students during IR?
  • How does the teacher integrate the ELA focus on nonfiction with IR?
  • How have guided reading and IR worked together to support children’s growth as readers across the year?


Mini-Lesson: Part 1 – Reviewing Nonfiction Strategies:

What nonfiction comprehension strategies have the students learned?

In addition to other resources, Ms. Long utilized The Comprehension Toolkit by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis to help teach the following strategies prior to the current lesson:

  • Stop, think, and react to new information – noticing when they learn something new by the reaction of their “inner voice”
  • Read with a question in mind
  • Learning from text features (See student work – previous lesson on text features)
  • Activating background knowledge


How will these help them learn from self-selected nonfiction books?

  • Young children are often exposed to more fiction than nonfiction, so they need to learn how nonfiction works and how to access information from it, especially using text features such as captions, photographs, maps, index, glossary, etc.
  • Background knowledge plays a huge role in what we understand from reading nonfiction, so what is new learning for one child will not be new for another.  Therefore, teaching the students to notice for themselves what they are learning is far more effective than only having them respond to the teacher’s questions.
  • Young children are naturally curious and encouraging them to ask their own questions whets their interest in reading to find answers – and ask more questions. (Nice quote from anonymous source: “Questions are like grapes – they come in bunches.”)
  • The turn and talks allow the children to participate and the teacher to assess without taking a lot of time. The teacher might want to scan the room to be sure that every child has a partner and adjust as needed.


Mini-Lesson: Part 2 – Read Aloud/Think Aloud:

What do you think is achieved by the modeling?

  • The teacher shows the children exactly what it looks like to put the strategies she has taught them into practice. She shows how she uses text features to find parts of the book to read, notices when something is new learning for her or not, and reacts with connections to her background knowledge, inferences and other thoughts to process information as she reads.
  • The teacher develops a common frame of reference for the class that she can use later as she supports individual children in applying the strategies to their self-selected books.


Mini-Lesson: Part 3 – Read Aloud/Think Aloud Continued:

What does the teacher do to make her modeling effective?

  • She carefully plans the parts of the book to read and where she will stop, think, and react to information.
  • She chooses the clearest and most engaging examples of the strategies she is demonstrating to make the strongest impact on the children and motivate them to want to do the same when they read.
  • She refers to the strategies she is using while she is discovering the new information, so that the children both learn with her and recognize what they are doing to learn. (E.g., “Did you know that a frog’s tongue… I didn’t either… mine said, “eww, that looks kind of gross. So that made me want to read the caption…”)
  • Her planning allows her to make her points without taking too much time away from the children for their own reading.
  • She includes modeling what to do at the “5-minute warning” so that children will be clear about what to do to prepare for sharing.



Transition to Independent Reading and Getting Started:

What routines and procedures are in place?  How do you think they support the students’ independence?

  • Children know exactly what to do when they leave the carpet to get their materials, find a place to read, and begin recording their background knowledge on their Padlet. They have had previous instruction and practice using the Padlet (See Teacher Commentary).  The teacher makes use of a fun and useful routine of recording the directions into her I-Pad and playing them back as a rap while the children transition.  All of this gives the students confidence and motivation to get to work without a lot of distractions and wasted time.
  • The Group Ground Rules chart is reviewed and kept up to remind students how to share in their groups and make the sharing more productive and meaningful. The teacher emphasizes the purpose behind these rules – to learn new things – so that the children will internalize them and respect them more easily.
  • The teacher circulates before she begins more extensive conferring so she is sure all the children have gotten started on their own.

Independent Reading – Conferences 1-4:

What type of support does the teacher provide in each conference?  (See Conference Analysis Chart to complete while viewing each conference)

 In a PLC setting, you may want to use the Conference Analysis Chart for teachers to record their observations of each conference, and then discuss what they noticed.  A chart of Sample Responses is also provided showing one viewer’s notes on the first two conferences.


Mini-Conferences and Transition to Sharing:

Examine the teacher’s running record conference notes.  Do you think they are useful, even though the lesson focus is on comprehension?

  • These snapshots of children’s reading continue to be valuable even though the teacher is spending most of her time discussing comprehension of nonfiction. Choosing a “just right” book is sometimes more difficult with nonfiction, since background knowledge and the type of text features provided play a huge role in readability.  Therefore, it’s a good idea to check if the child is mainly choosing appropriate books by doing a quick running record.
  • The teacher’s conference form is also a handy reference about when the child’s last conference was held, what teaching points have been addressed, and to note any patterns in reading behaviors. These are all quickly and simply visible through the running record form.

What are your overall observations/insights about the conferring?

Continue to use the Conference Analysis Chart for the mini-conferences if it is helpful.  Some general points about the conferences:

  • The teacher focuses the conferences to the goals of the lesson.
  • She maintains a reader-to-reader stance, rather than an evaluative one.
  • She varies her support based on the specific needs of each child in gaining new learning from the texts. Some need to use decoding strategies, some need to unlock new vocabulary that is important to understanding, some need to think and talk to really understand the information and not just read the words.
  • The teacher gains valuable information through these conferences to steer her ongoing teaching.
  • The combination of 3-6 minute conferences with some 1-2 minute mini-conferences allows the teacher to offer support to more children.



Group Sharing:

What benefits do you notice from the group sharing?

  • More students can share than in the whole group.
  • It is less formal or intimidating than sharing with the whole class.
  • It provides the opportunity for discussion about the topics that leads to new learning for everyone.
  • The children were authentically engaged in listening to each other and thinking about what each other had read.


Examine the two Group Padlets, Class Noticings and Sharing Nonfiction teacher notes (from previous nonfiction lessons).  What do you learn from these artifacts that might inform future lessons or conferences?

  • From the Padlets, we can see that all the children were able to record some relevant background knowledge and some new learning, although a couple of the bk’s were not clear (“they do not crop food.” “A fire is a emergency vehicle”)
  • Some students are doing well in putting information into their own words, while other are still copying verbatim from the text. It would probably be helpful to do additional mini-lessons on putting the information into your own words to be sure you understand it, and what to do if you don’t.
  • The teacher’s ongoing notes also help her make decisions about mini-lessons, or just brief comments to the children at the start of the next day or a specific segment of the lesson. For example, Googling an unknown concept would probably be a mini-lesson, while just saying “I don’t know” if you are asked a question can be a simple statement at the start of sharing.
  • Some of the teacher’s comments remind her that choosing books is something that will need to be reviewed from time to time in IR, and the importance of supporting those students who have difficulty finding books so that they will not waste their time in IR.


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.