Setting Purpose: From Engagement Text to Decodables | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G1:S2:C11:L57

Setting Purpose: From Engagement Text to Decodables

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Daily Learning Targets

  • Opening A: I can retell the events from the story "I Look Out."
  • Opening B (optional): Using evidence from the text, I can answer questions about the story "I Look Out."
  • Work Time A: I can read high-frequency words and words that "don't play fair." (RF.1.3)
    • I can read first-grade words that "don't play fair" in isolation.
    • I can decode regularly spelled one-syllable words by mapping graphemes to phonemes.
  • Work Time B: I can read the decodable text: "I Look Out." (RF.1.3)
    • I can decode regularly spelled one-syllable words by mapping graphemes to phonemes.
    • I can read words with an "-s" ending.
    • I can read first-grade words that "don't play fair" in text.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Observe students during Work Time.
    • Determine whether they can independently find a given letter or word.
    • Also determine whether they can decode CVC, CCVC, and CVCC words and identify familiar sounds in or automatically read high-frequency words.



1. Opening (3-5 minutes)

A. Engagement Text Read-aloud: "I Look Out"

B. Comprehension Conversation (optional)

2. Work Time (10-15 minutes)

A. High-Frequency Words: "some," "think"

B. Decodable Reader: Partner Search and Read

3. Closing and Assessment (2 minutes)

A. Reflecting on Learning

4. Differentiated Small Group Instruction and Rotations (40 minutes)

In Advance

  • Prepare:
    • Comprehension Conversation questions (if different from suggested questions)
    • High-Frequency Word Cards (see supporting materials)
    • Interactive Word Wall (one to display)
    • Snapshot Assessment (optional; one per student)
  • Predetermine partnerships for retelling during Opening A and Work Time B.


Key: Lesson-Specific Vocabulary (L); Text-Specific Vocabulary (T)

  • decode, high-frequency, noun, proficient, skills (L)
  • gusts, pest, pounces, rustles, spiral, swat, swirls/swirling, wind (T)


  • Enlarged Decodable Reader: "I Look Out" (one to display)
  • Engagement Text: "I Look Out" (one for teacher read-aloud)
  • Movable letters (magnetic letters, Letter Cards in a pocket chart, or other letters that can be displayed and moved; one each for teacher modeling: letters to build the words "some" and "think;" from Lesson 26)
  • High-Frequency Word Cards (one of each; for teacher to place on Interactive Word Wall)
  • Interactive Word Wall (one to display)
  • Decodable Reader: "I Look Out" (one per student)
  • Highlighters (one per student and one for teacher)
  • Highlighter tape (optional; for the teacher to use to highlight the Decodable Reader)
  • Snapshot Assessment (optional; one per student)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Engagement Text Read-aloud: "I Look Out"

  • (Suggested transition song, sung to the tune of "The More We Get Together"):

"Gather round together, together, together. It's time to hear a story, a story, a story. It's time to hear a story and say what you've learned."

  • Display the Enlarged Decodable Reader: "I Look Out."
  • Begin a read-aloud of the Engagement Text: "I Look Out":

1. Teacher says: "Listen carefully as I read today's story, 'I Look Out.' You will hear words in the story that we learned in our last lesson. After I am finished reading, you will retell the story to a partner and answer some questions about it."

2. Teacher reads the story aloud once or twice without interruption, pointing to the accompanying illustrations or each section.

3. Students turn to a partner and retell the story in their own words.

  • Consider providing a copy of the Decodable Reader: "I Look Out" to students who need help with retelling the story. The illustrations in the reader will show the sequence of the story; the student can simply retell the details based on what they see in the illustrations.

B. Comprehension Conversation (optional)

  • Teacher asks the following suggested comprehension questions:
    • Recall:

"What is loud?" (the wind)

    • Vocabulary and Language:

"The author says the fox 'pounces on a mouse in the grass.' What does the word 'pounce' mean?" (to jump on)

"The author says, 'The bug is a pest.' What does the word 'pest' mean?" (something that is annoying)

"In the story, the author tells us the wind 'gusts.' Let's see if we can use clues from the story to understand what 'gusts' means. The author says, 'clouds go past, the sun goes in and out fast and the leaves blow around.' What does that tell us about the wind? So when the author says, 'the wind gusts,' what must that mean? What word or words could we put in the place of  'gusts' that would mean the same thing?" (blows, moves around)

    • Digging Deeper: Extension Questions:

"How does the wind change from the beginning to the end of the story?" (It starts strong and gets weaker at the end.) "What did we hear in the story that helps us know that?" (At the beginning, the author says, "the wind is loud," and at the end, the author says, "there is not a sound.")

  • For ELLs and other students who may need additional help: Consider providing them with picture cards of nouns in Engagement Text: "I Look Out" to support comprehension.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. High-Frequency Words: "some," "think"

  • (Suggested transition song, sung to the tune of "The More We Get Together"):

"Now it's time to learn high-frequency words together, it's time to learn about words readers and writers use a lot."

  • Begin the High-Frequency Words instructional practice:

1. Teacher builds the word with movable letters: "some."

2. Teacher invites students to decode together, sliding each letter down and making the sound while students "pull" the letters down from the air.

3. Teacher says: "The word 'some' doesn't play fair because the 'o' is pronounced like /u/, like 'umbrella,' and the 'e' is silent. It is pronounced like 'sum.'"

4. Teacher uses the word in a sentence.

5. Student volunteer(s) use the word in a sentence.

6. Teacher says: "This is a high-frequency word. That means we see it a lot in reading and use it a lot in writing. If we know a lot of these words, it will make reading and writing much easier."

7. Student volunteers share a sentence using the word: "some."

8. Teacher places the High-Frequency Word Card on the Interactive Word Wall.

9. Repeat steps 1-8, skipping step 3 because the word is regularly spelled, with the word: "think." 

10. Repeat steps as appropriate for additional high-frequency words for review.

B. Decodable Reader: Partner Search and Read

  • (Suggested transition song, sung to the tune of “The More We Get Together”):

“Now you will read a story, a story, a story. Now you will read a story with words that you know.”

  • Begin the Decodable Reader: Partner Search and Read instructional practice:

1. Teacher displays the Enlarged Decodable Reader: “I Look Out.”

2. Teacher says: “This book is based on the Engagement Text: ‘I Look Out.’ But this book is filled with words that YOU can read! There are decodable words, and there are some words that don’t play fair, like ‘some’ and ‘is.’”

3. Teacher draws attention to words on the Interactive Word Wall.

4. Teacher distributes the Decodable Reader: “I Look Out” and highlighters to each student.

5. Teacher says: “Before you read the book with your partner, we are going to be detectives. We are going to look for some of the high-frequency words. Remember, some of these words ‘don’t play fair,’ which means they are not easily decodable.”

6. Teacher models with a big book and thinks aloud as he or she notices one of the high-frequency words. Teacher highlights it with a highlighter or highlighter tape. Model again as needed.

7. Partners search for high-frequency words in the Decodable Reader: “I Look Out” together and highlight in their own book.

8. Teacher circulates to help partners find words, focusing especially on those words that “don’t play fair.”

9. Teacher says: “Now you are ready to read the Decodable Reader with your partner. Some of the words in the story will be familiar because you have learned them in previous lessons. And some of the words you will see for the first time, but don’t worry—each of the words that you will see for the first time includes only phonemes (sounds) that you have learned. You just need to say the sound that goes with each of the letters you see in the word, then blend them together to read the word.”

10. Teacher models with one new word from the book: “gust.”

11. Students read from the Decodable Reader: “I Look Out” with a partner. Partners may take turns (by page or whole text), read in unison, or both.

  • If readers in the Pre-Alphabetic or Early Partial Alphabetic phases need help identifying letters/digraphs, consider providing Letter Cards as support. The students can hold the letter next to each page and find the letter shape that matches.
  • If readers in the Pre-Alphabetic or Partial Alphabetic phase need additional support finding high-frequency words, consider allowing a reader in the Full or Consolidated Alphabetic phase to help them. Or consider asking them to find the beginning letter of the word instead of the whole word.
  • As an extension for readers in the Late Full Alphabetic or Consolidated Alphabetic phases, consider providing whiteboards. Direct students to write a word that begins with the letter being searched or a sentence with the high-frequency word being searched.
  • If readers need help with words that "don't play fair," direct them to the Interactive Word Wall. Or have them read the rest of the sentence and think about which high-frequency word would make sense in the blank.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reflecting on Learning

  • Emphasize that successful learners keep track of and reflect on their own learning. Point out that they are doing this each time they consider how what they did today helps them to become more proficient readers.
  • Invite students to reflect and share with a partner (or whole group). Ask:

"What did you do today that is helping you become a more proficient reader?" (Responses will vary. Example: "I matched sounds to letters to blend sounds together to make a word.")

  • For students who need additional support organizing their ideas: Provide sentence frames. Examples:
    • "When I heard a word, I knew it was a ____."
    • "When I see an 's' on the end of the word, I know _____."
    • "When my partner _____, I _____."

Differentiated Small Groups: Work with Teacher

Suggested Plan: Teacher works with students in the Pre-Alphabetic, Partial Alphabetic, and Full Alphabetic groups. Students in the Consolidated Alphabetic group do not work with the teacher today.

Note: Groups not working with the teacher at a given time should be engaged in purposeful independent rotation work. Refer to the Independent Student Work Guidance document for more details (see K-2 Skills Resource Manual).

All Groups
Either today or another day this week after the Decodable Student Reader has been introduced, follow the Decodable Student Reader routine with each group. Differentiate the routine as needed based on students' microphase. Refer to the Independent and Small Group Work guidance document (see K-2 Skills Resource Manual) for full routine and Decodable Student Reader Planning and Recording Template.


  • Aim small group instruction at building students' knowledge and skills of letter identification and phonological awareness.
  • Use the Assessment Conversion chart to determine appropriate Kindergarten lessons and Activity Bank ideas to use in daily small group instruction.
  • Consider using the Decodable Reader from the whole group lesson as a resource during this time. Example:
    • Teacher identifies a grapheme or phoneme (from the current cycle or based on the needs of the group). Students look for grapheme. Student volunteer identifies the grapheme, makes the sound, and possibly practices proper formation (skywriting or whiteboard).

Partial Alphabetic:

  • Students in the early to middle Partial Alphabetic (PA) phase may need more time with each short vowel than the whole group lessons provide. Those working within the middle to late PA phase may be comfortable using the phonemes introduced in this cycle. If so, small group work may include extended practice of work time.
  • Suggestions for working with students at the early to middle PA phase:
    • Use the Decodable Reader from the current cycle and Cycle 10 to solidify the short vowels by having students locate words with each short vowel sound.
    • Spend time working with articulatory gestures: feeling the sounds of the one vowel compared to another or emphasizing the individual sound and mouth position of each consonant in a consonant cluster.
    • Prepare short decodable sentences with "ou." Example: The fox is out. I see clouds.
    • Teacher cuts up the decodable sentences and students reconstruct them.
    • Cut up words from the decodable sentences, separating the onset from the rime. This supports visual analysis of VC chunks (rime). Identifying the correct onset supports decoding of CVC words. Example: cl/oud.
  • Related Activity Bank suggestions:
    • An Activity Bank activity from the High-Frequency Word category (HF) or from the Decoding and Encoding category (DE)

Full Alphabetic:

  • Students in the Full Alphabetic phase have successfully mapped graphemes to phonemes, including consonant digraphs, and initial and final consonant clusters in single-syllable short- and long-vowel words.
  • Suggestions for working with students at the early to middle PA phase:
    • Check in with Accountable Independent Reading.
    • Follow up with Word Lists and exit tickets. Analyze words that were more challenging and discuss why.
    • Extend the work with the Decodable Reader to focus on initial and final clusters and single-syllable CVCe words. Consider adding a page to the decodable text that includes more complex clusters (use the Word List from Lesson 56 as a guide) and two-syllable decodable words.
    • Lead a chaining lesson using more complex initial and final clusters (use the Word List from Lesson 56 as a guide).

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