Early Literacy and Guided Reading Lesson Plans

Attached are three lesson plans I use for Early Literacy and Guided Reading intervention times. I recommend using Dawn Reithaug’s letter recognition and sound assessment and The Phonological Awareness Aligned to the Hierarchy assessment to form groups based on need. Then divide your learners into early literacy groups (red) and guided reading (yellow) and change groups according to assessment results. I like to check each month formally (summative) using the assessment. For daily (formative) checks, I recommend creating an excel document with all the children’s’ names and all the letters. Pick a letter each day to test them at random (make sure it has been explicitly taught before) and note if the child knows the sound and/or letter. For instance, Child A might be shown letter ‘m’ and Child B might be shown letter ‘c.’ You can do the same thing with basic sight words for your yellow group.

Early Literacy Lesson Plan 

Guided Reading Intervention Lesson Plan

Guided Reading Intervention Lesson Plan – Option 2

Note: I print multiple of these lesson plans out and put them in a folder, which I clip after each day. By keeping a similar format and having copies easily accessible I can plan my next lesson in 10 minutes (depending on the activity)! I can easily highlight what we will be doing the next day and note any letters that need reviewing based on the data or any adaptations for specific kids. It also helps to keep the “I Can Statements” up in the room to save time. Please view Resources for a First Year SST for specific early literacy and guided reading resources.

Happy planning!

Resources for a First Year SST

As a first year SST, I found myself wondering “what resources do I need to be a successful teacher and support?” These are the resources that have helped me get through the first few months (right after some awesome colleages and kids!):


FAIR – researched based phonics activities/games. Great to cut-out, laminate, and file so they are easily accessible. So far I have utilized letter recognition/sounds and rhyme games with great success and engagement from the kids! Note: K level actually translated to Grade 1 in many cases (adapt/gage for your children as necessary).

Letterland – kids love the actions and really retain it. Videos on Youtube, as well as, the Sotrybook are great tools for basic classroom teaching and interventions.

This always helps too:


#halloween #awesomestaff #teacherlife

Measured Mom – everything early literacy (and math!). Great, engaging activities to get student engaged during small-group instruction. It is a good idea to cut-out, laminate, and file some of these supports so they are easily accessible. I also made kids their own individual books and while they worked on those we played some games one-on-one. The kids loved it!

Raz-Kids – for levelled books for guided reading (totally worth it to get an account!)

Reading Assessments: 

Concepts of Print by Marie M. Clay – for basic/initial reading assessments

Fountas and Pinnell Benchmarking Kit 

Orchestrating Success in Reading by Dawn Reithaug – assessing the 5 main components of reading (great for LIT goals)

Reading Power by Adrienne Gear – great for LIT goals and reading instruciton


Circles Curriculum – teaches social boundaries/relationships

Getting Unstuck – how to problem solve

Whole Body Listening – great tool for whole-class listening (pair with both positive reinforcement, such as a marble jar, and negative reinforcement, such as name with checks on board, and you will be set!)

Zones of Regulation – great for emotional thinking and tracking (self-monitoring)


A Love Letter to First-Year Teachers from We Are Teachers

And whatever you do, don’t forget to ask questions.. lots of them!

Compiling Tech. Resources

In ECMP 355 we have learned about many tools to facilitate 21st century education! From Blackboard to Pensieve to My Fitness Pal – it feels like we have covered it all. For my own benefit (and anyone else who is interested), here is an overview of what we have explored and some of my own favorites:

1. MOOCs

2. Blog/Writing/Classroom Places for Resources

  1. RSS Feeds/Bookmarking
  1. Communication/Assessment
  1. Social


Photo Credit Globovisión via Compfightcc

6. Productivity/Plan

  1. Presentation/Assess
  1. Creative
  1. Media
  1. Coding
  1. Misc.

12. Autism Apps

13. Sign Language Apps/Sites

Today I also want to compile the resources from two articles: Snapshots Of Understanding? 10 Smart Tools For Digital Exit Slips and Apps That Rise to the Top: Tested and Approved By Teachers. Note: some resources repeat.

The first article discusses exit slips (an important element of assessment as… or assessment for if they are entrance slips). The article outlines these following technological options:

The second article outlines teacher-approved apps for:

1. Digital Storytelling/Presenting

2. Video Tools

3. Photo Editing

4. Augmented Reality

5. Reading/ELA/Library

*more ELA resources at kgorhamblog ELA Resources 

6. Commenting Tools

7. Coding

8. Note Taking/Organization

9. Digital Citizenship

10. Social Media

.11. Misc.

What other tools are out there? What is your favorite tool? What is a technology that you and your classroom couldn’t survive without!?

Internship Final Rating

Below are the results of the best internship I could have ever imagined! I couldn’t have dreamt up a better placement, more supportive cooperating teachers, and a better learning experience. I am so happy to have experienced various subjects in all grades K-12. I have grown so much over the last four months (as shown by my well-rounded teacher visual). My ratings for Professional Development increased from 2.67, to 3 and finally 3.67. My Interactions with Learners increased since September from a 2.55, to a 2.82, and finally a 3.55. My Planning/Evaluating/Assessing rating increased from a 2.65, to a 3.8. My Instructional Competence rating increased from a 1.43, to a 2.4, and finally a 3.6 this December. My Teaching Strategies came in at a 4 (100%) from a 2.25. Professionalism went from a 3.56 to a 3.88. Therefore, I was able to carry out my goal of a 3.50 score or more in all areas by following my October plan for success (working on intense behaviors, differentiating, using technology, etc.).  My strongest to weakest areas were as follows: Teaching Strategies, Professional Qualities, Planning/Evaluation/Assessment, Professional Development, Instructional Competence, and Interactions with Learners. Although my rating is very exceptional and well above my expectations, I know there is a lot of things I can continue to work on. You cannot be a teacher without being a lifelong learner. I will always have room to grow and lessons/plans will need to be adapted, especially in a student support role. I would like to continue my focus on using technology in the classroom, differentiating instruction, and handling intense behaviors appropriately. These goals are applicable as both a student support and classroom teacher (K-12). As this journey comes to a close, it is bittersweet but I know it is an end to a beginning of a long, happy career. I will miss this school, my colleagues, and all the lovely students! I cannot thank those at Mossbank school, the students, the staff, the community, and most importantly, my two wonderful cooperating teachers for such a terrific experience. Hopefully, Mossbank school and/or Prairie South will be a big part of my near future! Time sure flies when you are having fun! 🙂

20141209_193750 20141209_193805

Well-Rounded Teacher – Internship Assessment #1

After my first month of teaching at Mossbank school, one of cooperating teachers and I rated my overall performance. We looked at areas of Professional Development (A), Interactions with Learners (B), Planning and Evaluation (C), Instructional Competence (D), Teaching Strategies (E), and Professionalism (F). It was nice to see how closely our assessments aligned.

My ratings were as follows:

1. Professionalism

2/3. Professional Development and Interactions with Learners

4. Planning and Evaluation

5. Teaching Strategies

6. Instructional Competencies


My focus will be on Teaching Strategies and Instructional Competencies for the next couple of months. I will be focusing a lot on classroom management/behavior/procedures. I can’t wait to see how I grow over the next three months!

Assessment Philosophy and Learnings ECS 410

Philosophy of Assessment and Evaluation:


I believed in a system driven by grades. I thought zeroes were fair game and by removing them we were making 50’s become the new 0’s. Furthermore, I thought that pass/fail classes were a joke and learners would not try without an extrinsic motivation (grades). During the first class when you asked if we should mark behavior, I was all for it! I thought that marking behavior prepared students for the real world!

After reading for the learning journey blog posts, I have changed my mind. As Todd Rogers, a psychologist from U of A, suggests, “a zero indicates the student knows nothing about a topic when they might actually know plenty… the mark of incomplete is more honest” (Sands, “Educators defend no-zero rule”). I believe that 0’s mark a behavior. They punish students and give them the chance to opt out from completing the curriculum outcomes (which is the purpose of them being in that course). Often zeroes are a result of late marks, and in the “real world” time is flexible. It is important to note that“the no-zero approach puts the onus on the teacher to do everything possible to ensure students are learning what’s in the curriculum” (Sands, “Educators defend no-zero rule”). Students are still held accountable to do their work but their behavior is rated separately. If students do not do the main assignments in the term they cannot get a credit.

Fun fact: A newspaper article about cholesterol and wanting to get a zero to avoid a high cholesterol rating was what changed my opinion!


Redo’s were something I was against. The first time we talked about this in class, I thought “How is that fair to the top students who got it the first time? Wouldn’t everyone have high marks then?” After some reflection I thought, “But wait, Kourtney, the goal is not for students to compete against each other for marks. It does not matter if they all have 80s. The goal is for everyone to get it at any time that they can.” Now I think that everyone deserves a second chance; Guskey notes that we can ignore “low quiz scores,” allow for redo’s, consider marks “from a previous marking period,” or weight course material differently (2011, p, 87-8). Shepard also shares this idea and states that redo’s allow for fair evaluation (2008, p. 44).

Student role in assessment process:

Before reading Making Classroom Assessment Work and attending ECS 410, I never considered letting students be part of the criteria-building process or informing them about what outcome they were trying to meet. I did not feel right about students coming to parent-teacher interviews.

I believe that students need to be part of the learning process! They need chances to self-assess, compile their own learning (portfolio or blog), and should always be present at conferences/interviews. This is because learning is lifelong and for their benefit! I also think students should get a chance to decide the weights of assignments because they know themselves best. Students should be aware of the outcomes.


  • Laurie Gatsky noted that “assessment should not be a secret.”
  • “Students can reach any target that they know about and that holds still for them” – Anne Davies
  • Students should be involved with “the process of preparing and presenting” because it “gives students the opportunity to construct their understanding and to help others make meaning of their learning” (Davies, 2011, p. 86).


  • We must show students “what is expected and what success looks like” (2011, p. 30).
  • Anne Davies notes that students need specific “descriptions of what needs to be learned” or referenced (2011, p. 27).
  • Kelly Gallagher also highlights this idea in Chapter 3 of Teaching Adolescent Writers.
  • Samples and models are needed for student success.

Practice Time/Descriptive Feedback/Less Grading:

       I have always believed strongly in descriptive feedback and practice time!


  • Noskin (2013) stated that “assessments must be formative and frequent with timely feedback; a summative assessment should follow at the unit’s end” but not before then (p. 73).
  • Davies (2011) also states that “when students are acquiring new skills, knowledge, and understanding, they need a chance to practice” (p. 2).
  • Guskey notes that when feedback is given with grades, students’ “grades on subsequent assessments significantly improved” (2011, p. 86).
  • Anne Davies also emphasizes descriptive feedback in Making Classroom Assessment Work. She notes that “evaluative feedback gets in the way of many students’ learning” and students only “understand whether or not they need to improve but not how to improve” (2011, p.17-8).
  • “Increasing the amount of descriptive feedback, while decreasing evaluative feedback, increases student learning significantly” (Davies, 2011, p. 3).
  •  “The more specific, descriptive feedback students receive while they are learning, the more learning is possible” (Davies, 2011, p. 58).


I believe that we need to asses students on many things!


  • Anne Davies (Making Classroom Assessment Work) expresses that teachers must “gather evidence from a variety of sources, and that they gather evidence over time” (2011, p. 45).
  • Observations, products, conversations are some of the sources!
  • We can avoid pretending that a student’s whole performance or intelligence can be summed up in one number” – Peter Elbow.
  • Bernhardt (1992) states “that it is unreliable to base [evaluation] on a single sample of student writing” (p. 333). Thus, it is also unfair to evaluate students on “a single sit-down test” (Bernhardt, 1992, p. 333).
  • When students are faced with exams, or one time to shine, they are more worried “about what will be on the test rather than thinking about learning” (Shepard, 2006, p. 41). Grades, which are extrinsic rewards, “can reduce intrinsic motivation” (Shepard, 2006, p. 42).


Anne Davies notes, “students learn in different ways and at different rates” (2011, p. 43) and I believe our teaching/assessment needs to reflect this. This includes differentiation, oral and verbal instructions, assignment choices, etc.


  •  “Many teachers teach every child the same material in the same way, and measure each child’s performance by the same standards… Thus, teachers embrace the value of treating each child as a unique individual while instructing children as if they were virtually identical” (Mehlinger, 1995).
  • Lillian Katz’s quote “when a teacher tries to teach something to the entire class at the same time, chances are, one-third of the kids already know it; one-third will get it and the remaining third won’t.  So, two-thirds of the children are wasting their time.”

Use of Assessment and Evaluation:

Diagnostic Today’s meet, exit and entrance slips, quick-write questions: what is going well? What needs to be changed? How do you feel out of five about your understanding of the novel.  

Formative- Thumbs up (instead of mini whiteboards from  “Classroom Experiment”), talking to students one-on-one and asking for their understanding or feedback on my teaching (idea from “Classroom Experiment”), bell work, paragraph responses, jigsaws, think-pair-shares, class discussions, group work, carousel activity, talking circle, Venn diagram on gender, cold call (instead of lollipop strategy from “Classroom Experiment”), jeopardy review, homework checks

Summative – Island art, presentations, worksheets (story plot line) and questions, inquiry letters, vocabulary worksheets 

Student Involvement – Student choice on dates and schedule of assignments. Student choice on assignment representations. Students got to self-assess their efforts and debate marks. Students were aware of the curriculum outcomes (orally and verbally introduced). 

Accommodations/Differentiations – I had to give certain students extensions. I was supposed to give zeroes but I did not do this. I would talk to them individually and then see what dates worked for them. One student had an anxiety disorder so her presentation was done individually. She only had to do it in front of three teachers and a friend instead of the whole class. Two students had to do an island art assignment on their own (missed the class day so they missed the group work) and I gave them extra time to accommodate less people.

4 Key Lessons



2. Beginning with the end in mind:

  • Did this on the unit plan and for the class. Started with the outcomes and what my weekly overviews would be.
  • Students engage when their interests are reflected. I intend to find out about my learners and match their interests to the curriculum outcomes. Taking a book and making outcomes fit is almost impossible and doing it the other way around makes more sense.3. Rubrics:
  • Rubrics are vital and allow you to mark students based on a standard/outcome, instead of compare each other
  • Students also figure out what they need to do
  • Make rubrics with 4 boxes (so they do not always get put in the middle)
  • Rubrics should not have numbers, letters, etc.

4. Finally we must slow down “to create a learning culture… instead of a grading culture” (Shepard, 2006, p. 41). I would rather have my students’ master two things than touch on 800 poorly. This is reflected in the curriculum and will guide my instruction/assessment. We do not need to hit every indicator to get to the outcome. Give students choice so they can hit the outcome really well in one or two ways!

 Challenges and Further Questions:

  • I found grade reporting to be difficult (especially since I had to mark everything). I wonder how I can do this in a more efficient manner.
  • I found that catching-up missing students was hard. I often got them to get the materials from their friends but they still missed out on instructional time. I have been researching flipped classrooms and I think this might be one way to work around this problem. This is because the instruction/lecture is posted online in a video or multi-media format that students can access at any time. Then when students are in class they do their work, meaning students can all be working on different things. This also ensures that homework is being handed in! What other strategies are there for welcoming students who often are missing back into your classroom?
  • How do we balance the fine line between helping/supporting and enabling/encroaching on independence?
  • How do you motivate students without the “mark threat?” I know this is terrible but often students are so focused on marks, it seems like the only way to get them to do their work. Maybe this is a sign that more engaging explorations need to be made in class so that students want to learn!
  • I am still unsure about co-constructing rubrics. I am not competent enough to do this… yet.
  • I believe in self-assessment. However, many professors have told me not to do it because students end up giving each other the wrong answers. How do you teach students to self-assess appropriately and make this activity beneficial? How much time should be set aside for self-assessment?
  • How does a teacher decide what summative assessment is more important than others? How are weights applied and how should this be determined?
  • I am still unsure of our no-failing policies. I have yet to find articles that say failing Grade One is detrimental and I feel like repeating grades should not be looked at as a bad thing. If you need an extra year to learn to read, then so be it! However, I know that professors and some educators have a different perspective that cannot go uncredited. I want to find more information about this topic so that I open myself up to both perspectives. Do you know of any resources, specifically about repeating grades?
  • When is it best to mark students? How long do you wait to do summative assessment?
  • What method can be used to replace the grading system?
  • How do we implement a consistent grading system that provides all students with an equal opportunity, regardless of where they live?
  • Reporting under outcomes seems like a great idea! If your gradebook is set up under outcomes and an assignment covers more than one outcome, where do you place it?
  • Would you make one rubric per outcome? Would that work if students were exploring the outcomes through various indicators and choices?
  • Another thing I struggle with is not comparing students to each other. I agree that students deserve to be held to a standard and that their learning is not a competition. But this is easier said than done. I found myself comparing work so that I could ensure myself that I was being fair. I really hope I get more confidence and skill with grading so that I stop doing this.

Ken O’Connor “15 Fixes to Broken Grades”

On March 6, 2014, we looked at Ken O’Connor’s “15 Fixes to Broken Grades.”

Thing I agree with:

– keeping behavior and grades separate

– support for students who submit work late (although I would do this within reason because your students need to work as hard as you. However, I think if students hand in late work they probably have extenuating circumstances and need our support).

– report absences separate from grades

– organize information by I Can Statements/Outcomes (I like this but I am still trying to figure this out. I think once I understand the outcomes better, this will be easier).

– provide clear expectations

– rely on quality assessments and not on those that do not meet the standards of quality (ie. get students to redo and then grade)

– use your professional judgment (ie. mean is not the only measure)

– use alternatives for zero (ie. incomplete, etc.)

– use summative evidence only in grade and keep formative assessment out of it

– include lots of formative assessment in teaching practice

– focus on recent achievement and allow for practice time

– involve students in their own assessment and make them part of the grading process (This is harder than it sounds!)

Things I am unsure of:

– do not compare students to each other but to a standard (I believe in this but I am not anywhere close to this level of success and mastery yet. Hopefully one day!)

– not including group scores in grades (I think this is sometimes appropriate. We can use our professional judgment to determine when it is fair and when it is not).

– apply fair consequences for academic dishonesty and reassess (ie. do not give a zero. I agree but I wonder, what is a fair consequence for stealing work or cheating? However, giving a zero would not correct the behavior I bet. But what does? This will be stressful. Hopefully the school I go to would have a policy).

Something I dislike:

– not giving bonus points unless the work has resulted in a higher level of achievement (I think bonus questions are fun and I think students who work hard should have that reflected in their grades. I’m not sure I even understand this point.)

Direction of Saskatchewan Education

Tim Caleval, from the Ministry of Education, presented to our class on February 27th, 2014. Tim has a great wealth of knowledge about assessment practices. Based on the “Saskatchewan Plan for Growth: Vision 2020 and Beyond” by the Government of Saskatchewan, the Ministry of Education has a priority: increasing education success for our First Nations learners. The document outlines the current grad rate disparity:

“In 2010-11, over 72 per cent of Saskatchewan students graduated “on-time” (within three years of entering grade 10) compared to 32.7 per cent of self-declared Aboriginal students. The Saskatchewan Ministry of Education also tracks “extended time graduation,” recognizing that some students require more time to complete Grade 12. The extended time graduation (five years after entering Grade 10) rates are 81.1 per cent for all students and 48.1 per cent for self-identified Aboriginal students. The consequences of the education difference in financial terms are significant” (p. 20).

The document outlines an ambitious goal of reducing “the Grade 12 graduation disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students in the K-12 system by 50 per cent by 2020” (p. 40). In order to achieve this goal, we need to focus on a multi-cultural approach to learning and assess our students to monitor progress. Once we improve the education gap, there will be less of an employment gap for First Nations and Metis people in Saskatchewan. Much of the success of this goal comes from within the classroom and relies on teachers to create an inclusive and culturally responsive classroom.

Tim Caleval noted that “our future for boosting education success rates relies on First Nations students.” Therefore, the Ministry of Education will be focusing on this goal above all others. Tim noted that there are other goals and issues to address, such as a lack of consistency in grade reporting among the school divisions. He outlined some researched assessment practices that have been proven to be detrimental to students: not giving enough practice time, quizzes/tests to punish, late marks etc. However, he would not give his opinion on behavior counting in the overall grade since this is a divisive subject. I believe that if I were a parent I would want to know how my child was acting but I would not want them to be graded on it. Furthermore, as an inclusive educator I think we disadvantage our learners with various abilities by grading their behaviors. Grades need to reflect students’ knowledge of the outcomes. However, this does not mean we only focus on these things, as our Broad Areas of Learning and Cross Curricular Competencies largely focus on behavior.

Another goal that the Ministry of Education needs to address is increasing “the number of Grade 3 students reading at “grade level” by 20 per cent by 2015” (p. 61). As an English major, I know all too well that Grade 3 is the age where we stop learning to read and start reading to learn. Not reading at grade level can be detrimental to future achievement and therefore, graduation and employment. If students are not reading at grade level, we simply will not achieve the graduation rates we desire. In order to accomplish this goal we need improve the overall classroom experience: collaboration, curriculum, assessment, and instruction (p. 62). I also think we need to rely more on collaboration with Learning Resource Teachers and other specialized professionals. Tim noted that in the Sates they decide how many jail cells to open based on Grade 3 reading levels. I am proud to be part of a system that focuses on improvement and optimism. Instead of opening up jail cells, I truly believe educators and superiors are trying to adapt the system to meet the needs of all learners and bridge the achievement gap. We can see this in our schools from the First Nations and Metis Education Plan that focuses on literacy or our tiered instruction that is being implemented. The goals that our government has targeted are quite ambitious but I think with a little hard work and inclusion, they are manageable. We might as well set the bar high!