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Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Focused, strategic reading instruction

In years 1–3, the focus is on supporting learner readers to develop an effective reading processing system. Effective teachers gather evidence of students’ strengths and needs and use this to plan the best ways for each student to learn. As they teach, they gather more evidence and respond to new needs.

Planning for reading

Plan reading instruction thoughtfully, with a focus on your students’ needs. Reflect on the impact of previous teaching. Monitor the reading of each student, identify their reading goals, and decide on the scaffolding they need.

Be strategic in selecting texts, approaches to reading, and instructional strategies that will enable students to meet their goals. For example, to support a small group of students who are not making the expected progress through guided reading, you might use more shared reading sessions so that they can see and hear how an expert reader thinks aloud as they read.

Responding during instruction

Respond to students’ needs as they become evident during instruction. Use your professional judgment to decide how to do this. The Ready to Read teacher support materials provide many examples of what “deliberate acts of teaching” might look like. 

Monitoring the impact of the teaching

Monitor the impact of your own teaching, including the impact of any changes in your instruction. If your strategies are getting results in terms of student progress and achievement, keep on using them. If a student fails to make the expected progress, reflect on your teaching and consider alternatives. This may involve seeking advice from colleagues, in particular the literacy leader in your school.

For example, if a student reading at Yellow is reluctant to attempt unknown words during guided reading, consider the sorts of prompts you are using. Take and analyse running records so that you can see what sources of information the student is and isn’t attending to. Then you can adapt your instruction, building on what you know the student can do. Always monitor the impact of such changes to your teaching.

Moving students through the colour wheel levels

Your observations during guided reading sessions will indicate when a student may be ready to move to the next colour wheel level. Running Records will confirm these decisions. There is no need for every student to read every text at every level. The intention is that students will spend just long enough at each level for teachers to confirm that appropriate reading behaviours are in place.

Move students to more challenging books quickly if they are processing text well. Monitor them as they move through the transition process. Sometimes students have difficulty with just one minor aspect at a particular level.

For example, a student is reading confidently at Magenta, recognising a few high-frequency words and showing reasonable control of one-to-one word matching and directionality. This student can move on to the next level (Red). There is no need to wait until the student has a particular number of high-frequency words or complete control over one-to-one word matching. You can continue to support the development of these using texts at a more appropriate level as the student starts to build their reading processing system.

Such students may find the transition process easier if they work, for a short time, in two instructional groups, one at their present level and one at their proposed “new” level. You can then observe how the student copes in the new group before making a longer-term change.

Background information

For more information about instructional strategies and interactions with students, see chapters 4 and 5 of Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1 to 4 and chapters 4 and 5 of Learning Through Talk: Oral Language in Years 1 to 3.

Updated on: 20 Nov 2014