Effective Literacy Teaching and Learning for all Students

Unit 10

Leading in to independent reading sessions and conferences

Independent Reading does not occur as a stand-alone literacy experience. Prior to Independent Reading sessions the teachers usually conduct an introductory session or mini-lesson, perhaps focusing on an aspect of reading that has been already taught in Read-aloud or Shared Reading and perhaps revised with a needs-based group in Guided Reading.

For example, this plan may have been followed:

  1. The comprehension strategy of Visualising modelled by the teacher in a Read-aloud with the whole class.
  2. The strategy is practised during a Shared Reading with the teacher and the students reading together and collaboratively using and discussing visualising.
  3. In the introduction to Independent Reading the teacher reminds her students about using the strategy.
  4. The reading conferences focus on that strategy so that the teacher can identify students who may need more assistance in Guided Reading groups.

Sometimes the introduction to Independent Reading reminds students of several routines or strategies the class has been learning about.

Gabrielle and Naz (whom you have just viewed conducting reading conferences) conduct their Introduction to Independent Reading in the following film clips:

Caroline Springs College: Yr 5 Introduction to Independent Reading

and Movelle PS: Yr 1 Introduction to Independent Reading

Note the way Gabrielle reminds her students about what is important for Independent Reading for that day and note some aspects of Naz's introduction:

  • What aspects of reading did Naz highlight?
  • How did she make her focus meaningful?
  • What can you infer has previously been taught to the students about Independent Reading and about reading strategies?

Go to Film Clip:

Manor Lakes P-12: Year 7 Introduction to Independent Reading- Shannon Gallaway.

Shannon Gallaway is the school literacy coach and in this film clip she is modelling some literacy work for a Year 7 teacher Kate Sykes. View the film clip to see just part of the introduction to Independent Reading with the Year 7 students. The focus is on the comprehension strategy of questioning (more information can be found about this comprehension strategy and others in the document: Main Comprehension Strategies) while reading and Shannon is working collaboratively with the students to do this as she uses an enlarged version of a picture story book for Read-aloud/Shared Reading. Refer to Unit 5 for recommended Read-aloud texts for secondary students.


  • How the students were gathered close together as a community and could all see the text easily.
  • How Shannon established the purpose for the session.
  • How Shannon linked this work to students' Independent Reading.

After this, the students then had ample time for their Independent Reading of their own texts, focusing on their questioning of the text, while Shannon conferred with some students, the class then shared the type of questions they were asking as they read, using their iPads and 1:1 devices and the technology for sticky notes using Wallwisher. During that Share Time it is important for the students to think about what they have learned as readers (and writers) that they could apply to other reading (and writing).

Go to Film Clip:

Manor Lakes P-12: Yr 7 Reading Conference with Shannon Gallaway and Sri

View the film to see Shannon's conference with one of the students during Independent Reading. Although the class has a focus for their reading, individual conferences may also deal with other issues relating to each student's strengths and needs.

Go to film clip:

Manor Lakes P-12: Maryanne Pearce Interview with Shannon Gallaway

Reflect on the issues discussed:

  • The role of a school coach, especially in modelling teaching.
  • The use of the Gradual Release of Responsibility model for both a coach and a teacher.
  • Selecting students for conferences and recording what happens.
  • How conferring affects planning.
  • Managing and developing libraries in secondary settings.
  • Relationship with school library and librarian.

Consider how this information may help you in your school setting.

Reflect on how you introduce Independent Reading to your students and consider making any necessary changes to the way you do this.

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Effective Literacy Teaching and Learning for all Students