Teaching Lessons


“I feel good and great because I can read a lot of things. Now I can help myself and I don’t need my Reading Recovery teacher to help me.”

– Texas Reading Recovery child

Lesson Objective
The objective of Reading Recovery lessons is to promote accelerated learning so that students catch up to their peers, close the achievement gap as quickly as possible, and can benefit from classroom instruction without supplemental help.

Individually Designed Lessons
Daily 30-minute Reading Recovery lessons are individually designed and individually delivered by specially trained teachers. Using a wide range of procedures (Clay, 2005), teachers make moment-by-moment decisions within each lesson to support the individual child.

Assessment Based on Systematic Observation
In Reading Recovery, careful observation of reading and writing behaviors guides teaching decisions. As teachers gather data they align their teaching with what a child actually does. Reading Recovery teachers are trained to use Clay’s Observation Survey (2002, 2005, 2016) to assess each child’s strengths and confusions. The first 10 sessions provide further opportunities for assessment as the child engages in reading and writing. The teacher takes a running record of the child’s progress on text reading every day and uses the data to plan future lessons. The teacher uses other observational data to inform instruction: daily lesson records, students’ writing, and change over time in reading and writing vocabulary. (see Measuring Outcomes)

Lesson Content
Each lesson consists of reading familiar books, reading yesterday’s new book and taking a running record, working with letters and/or words using magnetic letters, writing a story, assembling a cut-up story, and reading a new book. The teacher creates opportunities for the child to problem solve and provides just enough support to help the child develop strategic behaviors to use on texts in both reading and writing.

Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Spelling, Comprehension, and Fluency
Every lesson incorporates learning about letter/sound relationships. Children are taught to hear and record sounds and to work with spelling patterns. Reading Recovery encourages comprehension and problem solving with print so that decoding is purposeful and students read fluently.

Outcomes of Lessons
A series of Reading Recovery lessons has two positive outcomes depicted by three status categories:  One status category for students achieving accelerated progress and two alternative categories for those who do not demonstrate the intervention goals of accelerated progress and an effective literacy processing system.

First Positive Outcome

  • Accelerated Progress: Achieved Intervention Goal. The child meets grade-level expectations and can make ongoing progress in literacy without needing extra help beyond the classroom program. (This is the outcome for approximately 75% of the children with a complete Reading Recovery intervention.)

Second Positive Outcome

  • Progressed: Monitoring and Support are Essential for Ongoing Literacy Progress. The child demonstrates substantial progress but does not reach grade-level expectations after 20 weeks of instruction. Continued instructional support is needed to ensure ongoing progress and strengthening of the literacy processing system under construction.
  • Recommended: Additional Evaluation and Ongoing Intervention are Essential for Ongoing Progress.  The child has not made accelerated progress after 20 weeks of instruction.  Additional evaluation and planning by the school team are recommended, and further action is initiated to help the child develop a literacy processing system and make progress.

Clay, M. M. (2005). Literacy lessons designed for individuals. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Clay, M. M. (2002, 2005, 2016). An observation survey of early literacy achievement. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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Spring 2023