Guided Reading presents an opportunity for beginning readers to engage with “real-world” text, exposing them to language that is broad, deep and enticing, is not always easily decodable. 


Or is it?


Learn how to use small group time to help students become strong decoders instead of weak guessers AND make meaning! Using brain science as a road map, discover how to take advantage of “backdoor” learning systems to streamline instruction and accelerate early learner access to the phonics code. By aligning phonics skill concepts with “universal” experiences and understanding (i.e. having a crush, not getting along, getting hurt, being left out, doing what your mom or babysitter tells you, knowing where and when to be sneaky, etc...) we can leverage early learners’ social-emotional intelligence to fast-track skill mastery at the earliest grade levels. In this way, beginning and struggling readers are empowered with the tools they need to become fearless codebreakers—not just in guided reading, but across the entire instructional day!


(10 minutes) Welcome, Introductions, Virtual Meeting Housekeeping


Using Brain Science to Fast-Track Phonics Skills for Reading 

(2 hours, 28 minutes)

  • Research on early (back to front) brain development and “backdoor” social-emotional learning pathways

  • Strategies for aligning high-leverage phonics skill concepts to universal experiences & understanding

  • Forging strong sound-symbol (speech to print) connections in the brain for reading and writing

  • Transforming phonics instruction into a “playground” for critical thinking and deep literacy-learning


Text Analysis: Looking for Landmines to Guide Students to READ

(2 hours, 15 minutes) 

  • Texts for Guided Reading: Emergent Reader Books vs. Decodable Books

  • The Decodable Truth about Most “Sight-Words”

  • The Three Most Essential Building Blocks of "the code" Students Need in Order to Read

  • Prioritizing Phonics-Focused Teacher Moves during Individual Oral Reading

  • Coaching Students to Read, Not Guess, at tricky words: turning “Landmines” into “Playgrounds”, a fun place to play with words and word parts to build positive experiences that brain remembers


Running Record Refresh

(1 hour) 

  • Shifting our mindset from DOING running records (to get a reading level) to USING running records (to analyze reading behaviors)

  • Understanding M S V...and where our teaching focus should go after a running record ends

  • Using running records as formative assessment and opportunities to have critical reading conversations with students

  • Running record data doesn’t end when the running record is over...looping reading errors back into Shared Reading lessons


Recording  includes:

  • Simple and scalable digital strategies to implement in your classroom (remotely or in-person) immediately

  • PDF handouts will emailed prior to the day that you will access & use during the day

  • Free digital files and resources aligned to conference lessons & activities (Secret Stories® resources sold separately)

  • Certificate of Completion for 1 NC Digital Learning Competency credit  or 10 hours of Continuing Education credit



PD Testimonials:

"Dear Katie and Jen, 
I just wanted to reach out and say thank you to you both for a very informative PD session this morning. I don't think I have ever learned more in a PD session than I did today! Another one of my teammates and I got our tickets funded by our school and we are very grateful for the opportunity to learn from you both and are so excited to bring this to our first grade classrooms. During the lunch break today we immediately filled out a PTA request form for our own classroom kits! Our other teammate requested one for herself as well without even seeing the PD, but could tell how excited we were from our 100s of texts, haha 😂 So now we will have a whole first grade learning the secrets and it is our hope to teach our Kindergarten team about it as well!
Over the past year I have been interested in learning more about the science of reading and I know it is best practice according to research and science. However, after joining some facebook groups and following some people online to learn more, I became very discouraged and intimidated thinking I was doing everything "wrong" with my students, because I was solely following Reading Recovery practices and using many methods I learned from leaders like Jan Richardson and Michele Dufresne. Every day I went to work thinking I was hurting my students instead of helping them because of how aggressive some of the people were in those groups! To take care of my own mindset, I had to leave the groups and unfollow the people and just continue to do the best I could with what I knew was working for most of my kids, even though in the back of my mind I knew there was more out there to learn so I could reach all of my kids. I think leaving those groups is the most important act of "teacher self-care" I've ever done. But today, Jen, you gave me hope again that I can integrate the science of reading methods I learned today from Katie with what I know to be good guided reading practice that I've learned from webinars and training from you and other leaders in literacy. You actually took the time to show us how this can work together, how you CAN do it all, and that you don't have to prescribe to just one method or the other. It was really important for me to hear, and I appreciate it more than I can say. 
Also- Katie, the brain activity we started out with was the most powerful activity I've ever done to get into the shoes of a student. Thank you both for your passion and your knowledge. I feel a new fire lit in my belly and I can't wait to get to work tomorrow. 
Have a wonderful night,"
Charlotte Bennett  


"Thank you for the wonderful PD! The beginning reader/writer simulation that Katie did at the start was a powerful paradigm-shift! I loved the integration of the brain science with the reading science to forge the structured literacy approach of the Science of Reading with the best components of balanced literacy. Jen proved today that you can do both, with the “accelerant” of the Secret Stories® that works to fast-track the systemic, explicit phonics instruction that you’re already providing your students! Thank you for sharing this with me! I will be sharing the recording link with teachers and principals in my region."

Anne Mitchell, Curriculum Director


"This PD was beyond incredible! …Just what every teacher needs to learn more and to affirm what they know about best practices in beginning reading instruction, particularly phonemic awareness, phonics and approaching text! The sessions were relevant and engaging and a refreshing approach encouraging participants not to abandon the best practices of balanced literacy, but instead, encouraging teachers to incorporate meaningful phonics instruction. I left empowered and confident that I can weave all best practices together and not pick a side of the pendulum! "

Stacy Bigham, Elementary Lit Coach & Adjunct Professor

Phonics Focused Guided Reading Recording