Sample Lessons for Emergent/Early Readers

(Very Beginning Reader - Usually Kindergarten through First Grade)

(30 - 45 minutes)

1. Warm Up: Child reads aloud from a short, familiar book (5 minutes)

This emphasizes the value and pleasure of rereading familiar materials, and provides good practice to build fluency.

2. Tutor introduces and supports child's reading of a new book (10 - 15 minutes)

This gives the child a chance to learn and apply strategies for figuring out the meaning of a new text. (see Prereading Strategies) Before having the child read, tell him or her the title of the book, and discuss the picture on the cover. Draw out the child's ideas and predictions. "What do you see in this picture?" "Yes, this is a chicken, or a hen, named Rosie. And there is a fox." (See Hutchins, 1968, in Suggested Books.) "What do you think this story might be about?" Next, help the child look through the pictures, covering the words, (this is called a picture walk). As you talk about what might happen in the story, use the language of the text as much as possible.

These prereading activities are very important for helping the child become familiar with the concepts and language patterns of a book -- building "background knowledge." Sometimes you might read the whole book out loud first, pointing to the words, and encouraging the student to notice or join in whenever there is a repeated pattern or refrain. "Did you notice that every page ends with the words: 'that's mine!'?" Then ask the child to read the text as independently as possible, but with your help as needed.

Hint: Be ready to help in a supportive way, but try not to jump in too quickly to correct every mistake (miscue). Keep the focus on helping the child make sense and on learning more about print. When the child pauses before a new word, or makes a mistake, wait a little bit to see what the child does, and to allow time for the child to think. If possible give a cue such as "look at the picture" or "does that make sense? Could Rosie go thought the fence? " Often children can figure out some words, or correct their mistakes if they've previewed and talked about the book with you and are allowed adequate thinking time.

3. A brief game related to the reading, or to practice a skill (10 minutes)

Games such as Mix-up Fix-up, or Concentration can be made on the spot, using sentences or words from the story or the child's dictation. Other games like Fishing for Sounds, or Picture Sort should be prepared in advance.

(See Sample Games)

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3. Drawing and writing or dictation (10 - 15 minutes)

The goal is to encourage students to use writing and drawing to communicate their ideas. Personal writing also helps children develop understandings about the structure of the English language: phonics, handwriting, the way words look on a page, and punctuation. Ask student to draw a picture about something that is personally meaningful. Then ask that she or he write something below the picture (a descriptive word, label, sentence--whatever the child is able and willing to do). Ask that he or she read back what has been written. If the child is very reluctant to write, you can offer to take dictation. Write down whatever the child says about the picture using large, clear print. Then be sure to read back what you wrote, pointing at the words as you read.

(See Developing a Language Experience Story)

4. Read Aloud to Child (10 - 15 minutes)

This is an important opportunity to model reading for pleasure, and to share a variety of good literature that a child is not yet ready to read independently. Also this is a way for children to be exposed to new vocabulary, concepts and different kinds of story structures. When selecting a text to read out loud, be sure the student knows he or she will not be expected to read this text—now it's your turn. Try to respond to your child's interest and attention level: is he or she listening? Is the story line too complex? Are there words the student doesn't know? (See Reading Aloud) You can model good reading and comprehension skills by asking questions and making comments: "I wonder what they mean when they say: 'he rumbled like a volcano.' Does a volcano make noise? Can a person sound like a volcano--how do you think that would sound?"

5. End of session

Wind up with some positive comments about the child's work and attitude, and suggest the plan for the next session. "You really worked hard today on your reading and writing. I can see that you are learning lots of new words. And you listened so well to "Jamaica and Brianna" (Havill, 1993). Would you like to hear another story next time about Jamaica tagging along with her brother?. When we see each other on Thursday, you'll get to read "Rosie's Walk" (Hutchins, 1968) again and a new book. And we'll do another Mix-up Fix-up. And maybe you can bring back that book about turtles you want me to read to you."

Documentation of Tutoring Session

After you have finished working with your student, take a few minutes to write down what activities and books you used, how the student responded, and what you observed about his or her progress. Also make a note of how you would like to follow up in your next session. (see Sample Log)