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Teaching Tip: Using Prepared Lesson Plans - the Pros and the Cons

Michele Dufresne

I have written guided reading lessons plans to accompany a number of the books published by Pioneer Valley Books. You can download these for free on the website. Although I have written the plans and am happy that teachers can access them, I have to go on record and share that, in general, I have mixed feelings about teachers using prepared lesson plans.

During the years that I was working as a Reading Recovery ® Teacher Leader, I worked with the teachers to help them learn to prepare their students for a reading of a new book. It is important to know your students' strengths and to keep in mind what will be the most powerful teaching points to focus each lesson on. Doing this ensures that you will be working to propel a student forward. To carefully plan for the reading of a new book means to analyze running records and observe individual reading behaviors as a child reads and writes stories. This helps teachers to plan what to focus the teaching on as you introduce a new book. This is one thing that a pre-prepared lesson plan simply cannot do.

The lesson plans that I have written for Pioneer Valley Books are not intended as a script to be followed; they are meant to help you think about the challenges and the support each book might pose. These pre-prepared lesson plans should be used simply as a tool. If it is the first time you are preparing to use a particular book, the lesson plan should help you to anticipate the book's challenges and the aspects of reading that it helps to support. Most importantly, always keep in mind the specific student(s) you are using a book with.

I hope you will find the lesson plans helpful!

Michele Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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