HMES Reader

A Literacy Newsletter

"Research has proven time and again that for students to improve, they must read for long stretches of time, with just-right material, enjoying their texts." (Allington 2011; Guthrie and Wigfield 1997; Calkins 2000; Serravallo 2010)

Engaged Independent Reading

"When we consider a student's level of engagement, we are in essence assessing whether the child reads for pleasure or reads merely for school. Engagement refers to a reader's motivation and desire to read and her ability to read for sustained amounts of time."

-Jennifer Serravallo, The Literacy Teacher's Playbook


Our anchor chart (below) paints a vivid picture of what we expect to see from students to know they are fully engaged in their reading, writing or research. Although we know "total absorption" is a challenging level to reach for some students, we all know that it starts with book choice. Students need books that they CAN and WANT to read to become totally absorbed. We have to flood them with books in and out of the classroom. This may cause you to think about your classroom library, student book bins, or take-home books. Are there enough? Are they the right levels? Here are a few tips that can help you build up your selection:


  • Add books to your wish list for parents to donate what their child has already read.
  • Start a "legacy book" donation where parents and students can donate a book in honor of a relative, friend, pet, child, etc.
  • Visit garage sales, Goodwill and flea markets to scan for deals on books that are still in good condition.
  • Go online and write a Donors Choose. (I would be happy to help with this.)
  • Send home flyers to build and use Scholastic Book Club points.
  • Use the school and local library to check out additional books for your students each week. You can also check with them about library book sales.
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Guided Reading Groups

Guided reading is our best opportunity to meet kids where they are. The demands of teaching standards can be met through our mini lesson, while the small group lesson is reserved for differentiating instruction based on what strategy that student needs most to become a better reader. In order to make our small group time as effective as possible groups should...

  • be no larger than 6 students
  • include students reading close to the same level (no more than 1 letter apart for emergent/early and no more than 2 letters apart for transitional/fluent)
  • focus on self-monitoring, decoding, fluency, vocabulary, retell or comprehension
  • not be a repeat of the mini lesson
  • spend the majority of time reading with teacher prompting
  • be reevaluated at least once a month by using anecdotal notes


At the end of each lesson we should answer the following questions to help us prepare for the next day:

  • What do I know about this student?
  • What should I teach next that will make him a better reader tomorrow?

So...What Next?

  • Complete an SEI on your class. I would be happy to come in and do the first one if you like. Remember the more data the better for being able to see patterns. Email me a day and time that would work best.
  • Try out any new components in the Jan Richardson guided reading lesson plan. If you'd like to see a lesson in action I can come model for one or more of your groups. We can also co-teach a group together or write some lesson plans for you to use.
  • We can work together to analyze your reading block schedule so that 75% of students' time is spent in engaged reading, writing and researching.


Let me know what I can do to support you!