Teachers as Decision Makers

Responsive Guided Reading Instruction

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With a mix of narrative discussion, specific student examples and loads of quick reference resources to support guided reading goals for emergent, early, and transitional readers, author Robin Griffith brings her years of experience as a classroom teacher, literacy consultant, and university professor to lead you through a deep exploration of our youngest readers and the decisions we make to support them in comprehension, fluency, and word solving.

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In every minute of every day, teachers make countless decisions—both planned and in the moment. And in few settings is this more evident than during guided reading instruction.

In Teachers as Decision Makers, Robin Griffith draws on years of research and countless interactions with students and teachers to present a framework of instructional decision making centered on the readers we work with, the books we share with them, and the instructional objectives we guide them toward.

In this fresh look at the instructional choices we make, Griffith offers an in-depth guide in which you’ll discover how to make effective, student-driven decisions, both while planning for and in the moments of teaching at the guided reading table, including:

  • the Teacher Decision Making Framework, grounded in the learner, the goal, and the text
  • direct applications across three guided reading text level bands: Emergent, Early, and Transitional
  • tables, charts, and reproducibles for easy reference in assessing and monitoring key reading behaviors at each band
  • 50 quick reference Decision Guides for practical planning and responding in three instructional areas: Word Solving, Fluency and Expression, and Comprehension

Whether you’re new to guided reading or looking to refine your practice, this practical resource will give you the tools you need to elevate your instruction and refine your ability to make effective decisions when teaching young readers.

About the Author(s)

With over 25 years of experience as a teacher, literacy coach, and staff developer, Robin Griffith currently shares her strengths-based approach to literacy learning with pre-service teachers at Texas Christian University and through professional development that helps teachers and literacy specialists recognize, understand, and reflect on the thousands of instructional decisions they make on a daily basis.


Table of Contents


Part 1: Teacher as Decision Maker
   Chapter 1: Teacher Knowledge Guides Decision Making
   Chapter 2: Teaching as Decision Making
   Chapter 3: The Learner, the Goal, and the Text: A Framework for Teaching Decisions

Part 2: Teaching Decisions for Emergent Readers (Levels A–C)
   Chapter 4: The Learner: Key Reading Behaviors for Emergent Readers
   Chapter 5: The Goal: Instructional Targets for Emergent Readers
   Chapter 6: The Text: Selecting and Introducing Books for Emergent Readers

Decision Guides for Emergent Readers
   Teaching Decisions Related to Word Solving

  • Sliding Through Each Sound
  • Noticing the First Sound(s) in Words to Solve Unknown Words
  • Locating High-Frequency Words and Using Them as Anchors for Reading
  • Cross-Checking Letters with Pictures to Confirm Decoding with Meaning
  • Monitoring with Meaning and Structure
  • Noticing and Using Common Spelling Patterns to Solve Words (VC, CVC, CCVC, CVCC, VCe)

   Teaching Decisions Related to Fluency and Expression

  • Matching One-to-One with Crisp, Steady Pointing
  • Rereading for Phrasing
  • Noticing Bold Words
  • Noticing Punctuation, Especially Exclamation and Question Marks
  • Rereading for Expression

   Teaching Decisions Related to Comprehension

  • Remembering Important Events or Ideas in a Simple Text
  • Inferring from Pictures and Text
  • Making Predictions
  • Using and Building Background Knowledge
  • Making Personal Connections

Part 3: Teaching Decisions for Early Readers (Levels D­–I)
   Chapter 7: The Learner: Key Reading Behaviors for Early Readers
   Chapter 8: The Goal: Instructional Targets for Early Readers
   Chapter 9: The Text: Selecting and Introducing Books for Early Readers

Decision Guides for Early Readers
   Teaching Decisions Related to Word Solving

  • Thinking About Meaning to Anticipate and Solve Unknown Words
  • Noticing and Using Parts of Words to Solve Unknown Words
  • Rereading to Check
  • Reading On to Gather More Information
  • Checking the Beginning, Middle, and Ends of Words
  • Using Different Vowel Sounds to Solve Words

   Teaching Decision Related to Fluency and Expression

  • Tracking Print with Eyes
  • Reading in Three- or Four-Word Phrases
  • Reading Dialogue with Expression
  • Rereading for Phrasing and expression
  • Reading Simple Text Features

   Teaching Decisions Related to Comprehension

  • Accessing Background Knowledge
  • Retelling Events in Order, Using Characters’ Names
  • Summarizing
  • Inferring from Pictures, Dialogue, and Character Actions
  • Inferring Problem and Solution from Pictures and Text
  • Reading to Find Out New Information

Part 4: Teaching Decisions for Transitional Readers (Levels J–N)
   Chapter 10: The Learner: Key Reading Behaviors for Transitional Readers
   Chapter 11: The Goal: Instructional Targets for Transitional Readers
   Chapter 12: The Text: Selecting and Introducing Books for Transitional Readers

Decision Guides for Transitional Readers
   Teaching Decisions Related to Word Solving

  • Using More Complex Word Parts to Solve Unknown Words
  • Reading On to Gather More Information (Often in the Head)
  • Solving Words Part by Part
  • Understanding Meaning for New Words Using Context
  • Solving Words On the Run Using a Variety of Word-Solving Strategies

   Teaching Decisions Related to Fluency and Expression

  • Reading in Longer, More Natural Phrases
  • Reading Dialogue with Expression, Accounting for Characters’ Voices
  • Reading Facts in an Authoritative Ton
  • Reading Text Features
  • Using Punctuation for Phrasing and Expression

   Teaching Decisions Related to Comprehension

  • Making Personal Connections at a Deeper Level
  • Inferring Characters’ Feelings, How They Change, and Why They Change
  • Making and Revising Predictions Throughout the Reading
  • Recognizing Recurring Characters and How They Are the Same or Different from Book to Book
  • Thinking About Lessons Characters Learn
  • Discussing the Author’s Purpose
  • Creating Mental Images

Teaching with Urgency While Valuing Childhood
   Appendices: Key Reading Behaviors Summaries

  • Appendix A: Summary Form for Emergent Readers: Levels A–C
  • Appendix B: Summary Form for Early Readers: Levels D–I
  • Appendix C: Summary Form for Transitional Readers: Levels J–N


Product Details

Grades: K, 1, 2
Media: 208 pp/paper
Published: 09/2022
Item No: 1390
ISBN: 978-1-62531-390-4
Publisher: Stenhouse Publishers
Hashtag: #DecisionMakers