Goals/Benefits Time/Structure Sample Lessons Routines Texts Assessment

Facilitator Notes

General Suggestions for Leading a PLC about the Lesson

Specific Suggestions for Make a Plan to Stay Engaged: 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 Make a Plan to Stay Engaged: 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 information provided by the teacher?  What might you want to watch for as you view 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.  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:

  • How much has Independent Reading contributed to the growth in reading levels that the children have made?
  • How are students articulating the strategies they are using and how does the teacher support them in doing so?
  • What plans will the teacher help the children develop to stay engaged?



Mini-Lesson: Parts 1 and 2

How do you think the mini-lesson will help the children to stay engaged with their Independent Reading?

  • Procedural mini-lessons are sometimes very important for helping children stay focused during their IR time. They need to know how to use their time wisely to make IR successful.
  • By reminding the children of the difference between just right and look books, the teacher is helping them to make better choices about what they do with each book that they read. (See Just Right and Look Books Anchor Chart and Texts Section, Choosing Books).
  • The plans modeled in the mini-lesson helps the children take responsibility for organizing their time.
  • By reading their just right books first, more children will practice using the emergent reading strategies they have developed. By placing their favorite books at the bottom of their piles, the children will not spend all their time with books they may have memorized. They will take up new challenges.
  • The lesson anchor chart is a clear reference point for the children to help follow and remember the plans.
  • Patiently taking the children’s questions allows them time to process how they are going to make their plans in a supportive environment before they go off on their own.
  • Many routines are in place for a smooth transition to IR, including table leaders preparing the students’ materials (See Routines Section, Transitions, and Fun Spots (See Routines Section, Where Children Read: Fun Spots).




Independent Reading – Conferences 1-2:

How does the teacher reinforce the focus of the mini-lesson in her conferences?

She asks each child to explain the plan he/she is using to separate their books into stacks.  She praises their efforts to sort their books appropriately and works with them to clarify any confusions.  By focusing on their plans, the teacher helps children learn to use their time well during Independent Reading.

How does she support the children’s developing strategies? 

The children are at varying stages of learning to cross-check meaning (at this point, mainly through the pictures) with visual information (mainly first letter of the word).  In asking the child in Conference 1, “How did you know that was ‘cookies’ and not ‘Oreos’?” the teacher calls the child’s attention to the print – to the letter c, to help him begin to do this cross-checking.  In Conference 2, she reinforces/praises the child’s efforts to cross-check meaning with first letter (toy/car, airplane/plane).  She could further support the children’s understanding by including in her prompts and praises that reading has to both “make sense” and “look right” at the same time, (e.g., “Cow looks right – it starts with a c – but you stopped because it doesn’t make sense.  What would look right AND make sense?”)  For more about prompting for cross-checking, see Guided Reading module, Levels 3-5, Day 1: Reading the New Book.

See also entries from the Teacher Conference Notebook for examples of the teacher’s notes supporting her focus on cross-checking.

  • When conferring individually with a classroom of children, it’s impossible to store all the information in one’s head! Ms. DuBose’s records help her keep track of the progress of each child by noticing patterns in the child’s reading behaviors, and to reflect on what she thinks is most important to do to maximize the child’s growth as a reader.
  • The specific examples in running record notations give the teacher powerful examples to help the child understand strategies to use. They also give the teacher reference points for future discussion about these strategies.  (See Running Records in Assessment Section for more about using running record notations to support conferring.)



What are your observations about the sharing?

In addition to teachers’ observations, some points you may want to discuss about sharing:

  • The teacher chooses specific children in advance to share and prepares them while conferring with them. This allows her to shape the sharing purposefully.  She uses it to reinforce strategies that she knows will benefit the class as a whole, to provide student examples of the focus of the lesson (making a plan), to celebrate strides children have made as readers, and to build students’ confidence.
  • Children have another opportunity to practice fluency by reading aloud to their peers selections they have already read. They are very patient with one another while the person sharing works on their own reading, and they take very seriously the challenge to read their books.  The teacher has obviously built a classroom environment in which children expect to make mistakes and deal with challenges, and are simultaneously excited and proud about learning.
  • The teacher has another opportunity to assess how well the children have internalized the strategies she has been teaching them, and what additional support is needed.
  • By having children respond to their peers by identifying what they liked about their reading, the teacher helps build a community of learners who are more attentive to and supportive of each other.


Reflection and Next Steps:

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.