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

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ELA GK:S3:C14:L71

Setting Purpose: From Engagement Text to Decodables

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Daily Learning Targets

  • Opening A: I can retell events from the story "The Ham Sandwich."
    • I can listen to a story.
    • I can tell someone else what the story was about.
  • Work Time A (optional): Using evidence from the text, I can answer questions about the story "The Ham Sandwich."
    • I can answer questions about the story using words and ideas from the story.
  • Work Time B: I can read the decodable text "The Ham Sandwich." (RF.K.3)
    • I can move my finger under words as I read them on a page, left to right and top to bottom.
    • I can recognize and read many high-frequency words by sight.
    • I can identify the name of each uppercase and lowercase letter.
    • I can look at each consonant and say its sound.
    • I can look at each vowel and say its sound.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Observe students during Work Time B.
    • Determine whether they can independently find a given letter or word.
    • Also determine whether they can segment consonant and vowel sounds within words, and identify familiar sounds in or automatically read high-frequency words.
  • Record students' progress on the Snapshot Assessment.



1. Opening (3-5 minutes)

A. Engagement Text Read-aloud: "The Ham Sandwich"

2. Work Time (10 minutes)

A. Comprehension Conversation (optional)

B. Decodable Reader: Partner Search and Read

3. Closing and Assessment (2 minutes)

A. Reflecting on Learning

4. Differentiated Small Group Instruction and Rotations (40-45 minutes)

In Advance

  • Prepare:
    • Comprehension Conversation questions (if different from suggested questions)
    • Snapshot Assessment (optional; one per student)
  • Pre-determine partnerships for retelling during Work Time B.
  • Gather materials for differentiated small group instruction (see Differentiated Small Groups: Work with Teacher).


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

  • blend, high-frequency (mystery) word, phoneme (sound), segment (L)
  • alley, struts (T)


  • Enlarged Decodable Reader: "The Ham Sandwich" (one to display, see supporting materials)
  • Engagement Text: "The Ham Sandwich" (one for teacher use)
  • Highlighter, highlighting tape, or Wikki Stix (for teacher)
  • Decodable Reader: "The Ham Sandwich" (one per student, see Student Workbook)
  • Snapshot Assessment (optional; one per student)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Engagement Text Read-aloud: "The Ham Sandwich"

  • (Suggested transition song, sung to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot"):

"Gather around together, and listen up well. We're going to read a story that you can retell. When we read the story, you will grow. At the end, you'll say back what you know."

  • Display Enlarged Decodable Reader: "The Ham Sandwich."
  • Begin a read-aloud of the Engagement Text: "The Ham Sandwich":

1. Teacher says: "Listen carefully as I read today's story, 'The Ham Sandwich.' Listen for some of our keywords. 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 illustration from the enlarged Decodable Reader for each section.

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

  • Consider providing a copy of the Decodable Reader to students who need help retelling the story. The illustrations in the reader will show the sequence of the story; the students can simply retell the details based on what they see in the illustrations.
  • Consider assigning students "turn-and-talk" or "elbow" partners they will consistently speak to and build a rapport with.
  • Consider providing students with sentence frames to help them retell the story. Example:
    • "In this story, first _____, then _____, and in the end, _____ happened in the story."

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Comprehension Conversation (optional)

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

"Where is Chip taking a nap?" (in a large hat)

"What does Chip see next to the trash can?" (a ham sandwich)

    • Vocabulary and Language:

"What does the author mean by the phrase 'Chip struts down the alley'?" (Chip walks confidently with his head held high.)

    • Digging Deeper: Extension Questions:

"How did Chip change from the beginning of the story to the end of the story? What stayed the same?" (Chip went from excited to see his favorite ham sandwich to being upset when he saw it taken by Josh the rat. He was hungry the whole time because he didn't get to eat!)

  • Consider asking students to turn to an elbow partner before answering comprehension questions out loud.
  • Consider providing students with sentence frames to help them answer comprehension questions. Example:
    • "I think [insert name of character] is _____ because _____."

B. Decodable Reader: Partner Search and Read

  • (Suggested transition song, sung to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot"):

"Now we'll read a story with letters that we know. Get your finger ready to follow the flow. When we see a word, we'll stop and look and get our mouths ready to read the book."

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

1. Teacher displays Enlarged Decodable Reader: "The Ham Sandwich."

2. Teacher says: "We have been learning and reading a new poem every week. Now, we are going to start reading books instead! This book is based on the story 'The Ham Sandwich.' I will read the words first, just like we did with the poem, and then you will read the words with me. Look and listen for high-frequency words and letter sounds that you know.

3. Teacher reads the Enlarged Decodable Reader aloud at least once, pointing to each word as it is read aloud.

4. Teacher reads the text once more. Teacher thinks aloud as he or she notices the high-frequency words "I," "see," "the," "in," "he," and "a." Teacher highlights the words with a highlighter.

5. Teacher says: "Wow! This book has many of the high-frequency words we know well. We've been practicing them so much, we know them in a snap!"

6. Teacher rereads page 1.

7. Teacher asks:

"Can you find the letter 'c'?"

8. Teacher says: "This letter makes the /k/ sound at the beginning of this word." Teacher highlights the letter.

9. Teacher asks:

"Can you find the letter 't'?"

10. Teacher says: "This letter makes the /t/ sound at the end of this word."

11. Teacher highlights the letter.

12. Teacher asks:

"What vowel is in the middle of this word?" ("a")

13. Teacher says: "That's right! 'a' makes the /a/ sound. This word is pronounced 'cat.' Great job!"

14. Teacher says: "'Cat' has an '-at' ending. There are other words that have the '-at' ending in this book. The only difference is the beginning sound. There are three different words with an '-at' ending in this book. When you get your books, work with your partner to try to find those words!"

15. Teacher says: "Now I will give a book to each of you. You and your partner will look for high-frequency words 'I,' 'see,' 'in,' 'the,' 'he,' 'a,' and words with an '-at' ending that you know in the book. When you find a high-frequency word, remember to circle the word you know and say it out loud. When you see words with an '-at' ending, circle them and say the sound the letters make."

16. Teacher distributes the Decodable Reader: "The Ham Sandwich" to each student.

17. Students read "The Ham Sandwich" with a partner. Partners may take turns (by page or whole text), read in unison, or both.

18. As they read, partners search for high-frequency words and letters in the Decodable Reader: "The Ham Sandwich" together, "circling" high-frequency words with their fingers. Teacher circulates to help partners who need additional help finding words.

19. Teacher says: "Today you searched for words and letters in a book instead of a poem. Soon, you won't just be searching for words you know--you'll be reading new words!"

  • If readers in the Pre-Alphabetic or Partial Alphabetic phase need help finding high-frequency words, consider allowing a reader in the Full Alphabetic phase to help them. Or consider asking them to find the beginning letter of the word instead of the whole word.
  • Encourage students to box the high-frequency (mystery) words with their highlighters. This will differentiate the high-frequency words from the phonemic words.
  • Encourage students to highlight the letters they know within phonemic words. Example:
    • Highlight "h" in "hat" because they know "h" makes the /h/ sound.
  • As an extension for readers in the Full Alphabetic or Consolidated Alphabetic phases, consider providing a white board. 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 think about what they've learned and why it's important. Consider using a metaphor, such as a baseball player learning to keep his or her eye on the ball to know exactly when to hit it.
  • Ask:

"When we see the letter 'h,' how can we remember the sound it makes?" (Think of our keyword, "house," and listen for the first sound or the sound that "h" makes at the beginning.)

"How will that help us with reading or writing?" (Responses will vary.)

  • For students who need additional support organizing their ideas: Provide sentence frames. Example:
    • "When I said the word 'house,' I _____."

Differentiated Small Groups: Work with Teacher

Suggested Plan: Teacher works with the Pre-Alphabetic and Partial Alphabetic groups. At this point in the year, the teacher may be ready to meet with three rather than just two groups per day. If so, the teacher should work with students in the Full and Consolidated Alphabetic phases at least once per week. The teacher may choose to guide students through the suggested independent activity or refer to the possible practice activities.

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

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. See supporting materials for full routine and planning template.


  • Practice activity: Teacher guides students in cutting apart letters to build mystery words from this cycle.
    • Students cut apart letters from the Letter sheet.
    • Teacher guides students in building mystery words "I" and "the."
    • Students paste letters on Mystery Words sheet.
  • Consider also reading the stories of "a," "c," "h," or "t," found in the Learning Letters Book. After reading the story, practice skywriting the letter. Repeat the following day with the remaining letters.
  • Additional Supporting Materials:
    • Letter sheet (one per student)
    • Mystery Words sheet (one per student)

Partial Alphabetic:

  • Practice activity: Students cut apart letters to build mystery words from this cycle.
    • Students cut apart letters from the Letter sheet.
    • Students build mystery words "I," "the," and "see."
    • Students paste letters on Mystery Words sheet.
  • Additional Supporting Materials:
    • Letter sheet (one per student)
    • Mystery Words sheet (one per student)

Full and Consolidated Alphabetic:

  • Independent Practice activity: Students complete "missing word" sentences.
    • Students write missing mystery words in decodable sentences on the Mystery Word Sentences sheet.
    • Students create new sentences with mystery words.
  • Conference with students about Accountable Independent Reading.
  • Additional Supporting Materials:
    • Mystery Word Sentences sheet (one per student)
    • Additional writing paper

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