Sunday, October 2, 2011

Teaching Decoding Strategies

I love starting Readers Workshop off with a maxi mini lesson.  I try REALLY hard to make them short and sweet...being short and sweet just isn't in my nature.  Ask anybody.  Irregardless my upcoming maxi mini lessons will be taking one decoding reading strategy each day and model how they work using a big book.

I make the analogy of strategies being "tools" and readers go everywhere (the library, their house, under their covers with a flashlight) with this invisible toolbox (Remind you of something: Bucket Fillers) In this toolbox are many strategies (tools) that a reader can use when they come to a tricky word.

During my first mini lesson I bring hubby's toolbox to school with me (don't worry - I leave his plumber's smile at home).  I tell a story of how one day Mr. Teacher (hubby is a teacher too) was fixing our toilet (I used to say sink - but I seem to keep their attention more if I repeatedly say toilet or potty).  First, he asked for the wrench; he did some twisting and turning but it just didn't do the trick.  Then he asked for a screwdriver - more twists and turns...he was getting closer to fixing the potty (insert snickers and giggles) but wasn't quite there.  He needed to use one more tool (reading strategy) the hammer did the trick - he fixed it!!!!

Some nice follow-up questions: Did Mr. Teacher fix the potty with only one tool (strategy)?  No, he needed to use many tools.  That's how figuring out tricky words sometimes works.  Sometimes one tool (strategy) will help us figure out that word but sometimes we need to use many tools before we get it.

For the next week or so I take one tool/strategy a day - model it using a big book and place it in our classroom Reader's Toolbox.  Once our toolbox is full I give each child a smaller bookmark version for them to keep in their personal bookshelves for independent reading.

Let's see if I can figure out how to post pictures and documents...


  1. I love the analogy of the plumber's tool box! Thanks for sharing! Good luck with the new blog - it looks like you're off to a great start!

    Jennifer @ Herding Kats In Kindergarten

  2. Holy, thanks for the kind words and for stopping by!
    Our tool boxes are a match! I love how you teach the kids that sometimes it takes multiple tools to fix a problem and that it takes a few tries! (def. going to use this!)
    I really tried to incorporate the tools & their use into the strategies so the kids can have a visual in their heads when it's time to do it on their own.

    Stop by and check out my giveaway too :)

    ❤ Mor Zrihen ❤
    A Teacher's Treasure


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