Goals/Benefits Time/Structure Sample Lessons Routines Texts Assessment


Facilitator Notes

The Time/Structure Section is divided into parts, with questions under each part and videotaped responses from teachers to each question. Occasionally, clips repeat responses given in interviews in the Sample Lessons.  Clips of classroom practice, labeled “Classroom in Action,” are included under Conferring.   The transcript of the clip may also facilitate discussion.

We suggest viewing all the clips under one question, with teachers taking notes while they view, and then discussing the clips (with partners, small or large groups) before moving to the next question.

See also Suggested Reading for information you may want to provide for discussion during the Session, or as follow-up after.





How long do you spend in Independent Reading daily and how do you structure that time?

Do you pull guided reading groups during Independent Reading time? Why or why not?


PREPARATION: If participants do not generally have a dedicated IR time, you may want to use the section “How Can You Find the Minutes?”, pages 3-7 and 44-47 of Miller and Moss, No More Independent Reading Without Support.  Debbie Miller chronicles the search she and teachers in a school went through to figure out what they could eliminate from their schedules to make time for IR.  (Some of her suggestions are included in the list under BEFORE VIEWING.)


BEFORE VIEWING: (or after)

If teachers do not currently have dedicated IR time, or are struggling to maintain or lengthen it, discuss how much time is spent on the following activities and brainstorm ways to shorten it:

  • Morning meeting/calendar
  • Morning announcements (schoolwide)
  • Transitions, lining up, getting ready to go home
  • Activities during the reading block (e.g., worksheets, directions, center activities, questions from a basal reader, test prep, computer reading tests, etc.)
  • Other?


DURING VIEWING:  Guiding Questions and Talking Points:

What’s similar and what’s different about how the 3 teachers interviewed organize their IR time and coordinate with guided reading (GR)?  What are your reflections based on these similarities and differences?

  • Similarities:
    • They all divide their time into mini-lesson, IR with conferring, and sharing.
    • They all have a consistent time of day and amount of time for IR.
    • They all provide both GR and IR for their students, though not necessarily in the same time slot.
  • Differences:
    • They spend different amounts of time on IR.
    • They do IR at different times of the day.
    • The Kindergarten teacher has a separate block of time for guided reading with centers; the first and second grade teachers both weave IR and GR into the same block, changing whether they confer individually or hold groups in a flexible manner based on student needs.
  • In addition to participants’ own insights, you may want to note that:
    • While the time and organization of IR differ, the 3 parts of the structure are consistent.
    • Flexibility, based on careful observation of the children’s growth, is extremely important to maximize the benefits of both IR and GR!



  • Discuss responses to the Guiding Questions.
  • Share other ideas and tips from the participants related to finding time for IR and balancing with GR.  (You may want to do the activity listed under BEFORE VIEWING here instead.)






How and why are mini-lessons used in IR?

This part of the section outlines the purpose of the mini-lesson, through a brief explanation and one teacher’s perspective.  If teachers are not familiar with mini-lessons, you may want to view one from any of the Sample Lessons or return to this discussion after studying one of the Sample Lessons.


AFTER VIEWING (and reading the brief introduction):

  • Discuss teachers’ questions and insights from the clip.
  • With partners or small groups, teachers might share what types of mini-lessons they have recently done, how they decide the focus of their mini-lesson, and brainstorm ideas for upcoming mini-lessons.
  • Discuss tips for keeping mini-lessons brief (5-15 minutes), so children’s time is mainly spent in reading.





How and why do teachers confer during IR?

This part of the section serves as a brief introduction to conferring.


DURING VIEWING:  Guiding Questions and Talking Points

  • Introduction and Interview Clip: Why is conferring essential in IR? Why should teachers confer, rather than read themselves while children read, as is sometimes done in DEAR or Sustained Silent Reading?
    • Conferring is direct assessment that allows us to provide differentiated – i.e, individualized instruction to each student-
    • Conferring builds a 1-1 relationship that is a huge motivating factor for IR.
    • The benefits of conferring are so strong that they outweigh possible benefits of the teacher showing what IR looks like by reading him or herself. We model in our mini-lessons and through our conferences instead.
  • Classroom in Action Conference Clips: What types of decisions does the teacher need to make on the spot as she confers? Share specific examples from the conferences.
    • Whether a book is appropriate for the child and how to support book choice. We don’t want children wasting time with books that are too easy or too hard.  And we want them to choose books they will enjoy so that IR will help motivate them to become avid readers.
    • What strategies will move the child forward at this particular moment and what examples will best help the student understand how to use those strategies.
    • How to scale up or down teacher support – how long to wait, when to simply tell a word or idea, when to shift gears.
    • There are many other decisions teachers might notice from the clips. Be sure to note that the decisions are grounded in knowing the child as well as by knowledge of the reading process, so our view from outside is a limited perspective.



  • Discuss teachers’ responses to the Guiding Questions, as well as other questions and insights.
  • You might want to generate a list of Conferring Questions and revisit it as you view other Sections of this module (Sample Lessons and Assessment).





How and why do children share during IR?

DURING VIEWING:  Guiding Questions and Talking Points

  • Why is sharing important in IR?
    • Talk is very important to learning.
    • Talking to their peers motivates children to want to read.
    • The teacher is able to highlight important strategies through examples from the children.
    • Sharing supports accountability for using time well during IR.
    • Children often understand better from their peers than from us!
    • Sharing builds a community of readers.
  • How do teachers choose who will share each day?
    • When using whole class sharing, all the teachers interviewed select children to share while they are conferring with them. This notice prepares the children for sharing and provides the class with the best examples of strategies that the teacher wants to highlight.
    • The teachers keep track of who has shared so that all children get a chance over time.
  • What other thoughts/ideas/questions/insights do you have from watching the classroom clips?



  • Discuss responses to the Guiding Questions and other questions and insights from the participants.
  • Teachers might want to discuss the pros and cons of different types of sharing for different situations and what other types of sharing they might want to try in their classrooms.