OPL Tips

On this page I intend to add those gems that are shared during our Reading Recovery Ongoing Professional Learning sessions, e.g. What a good idea! I didn’t know that. Is that what it means? I used to know that but I forgot.

We teach students to look from left to right across a line, and a word. But do we explicitly teach the student to look from left to right across a letter?

Say what you see and what you say expect to see.

Instead of the child pointing underneath any part of the word, e.g. the middle or the end-
Have the child point underneath the first letter of each word.
This will remind the child to look at the 1st letter before any other letter, i.e. to look through the word from left to right.



Second Edition out! Much easier to read, and locate what you want.


To extend writing- Revisit a sentence that was written much earlier in the series of lessons and improve it, e.g. add adjectives to make it more descriptive / interesting, rewrite with new punctuation (!) etc.

Articulating the parts of a word in a text. As the student is taking a word from the text apart, have him / her slide a finger under the word and have the teacher slide a finger above the word at the same time, as they both say the parts. (For scaffolding when required.)

Consider typing the 5 daily sentences from the week to send home with the student on a Friday- perhaps with a designated area for illustrations. Great for reading.

Select a text from the lesson. Student / teacher conversation to locate an event to represent the beginning, the middle and the end. Jot these on 3 post it notes. Expand and write the idea from the beginning post it note on Day 1, the middle the following day, and the end on the 3rd day. This will produce more detailed pieces of writing.

An early scaffold for spacing- “Pick up the pencil” between each word.

Use a chopping action instead of clapping for syllables. The clapping can prevent the student from hearing clearly.

Writing should be noisy. “Say it as you write it”. Students should to be heard articulating the parts.

If the student forgets to begin with a capital letter wait until he / she is finished the writing before going back to do this editing. Interrupting the flow of thoughts at the 1st word can make the task a lot more difficult.

For students who have an issue with spacing written words. For a short time use a yellow marker to put lines where each word will go. _    ___    ____      __    _______ .

Instead of pasting the cut up sentence(s) in the homework book, consider decorating a shoe box during Roaming. Use this at home to store the cut up sentences. Send the cut up sentences home in an envelope with the sentence(s) written on the outside. Children can revisit ‘old’ sentences. Sort words. Make alternate messages.

Our lowest students need to spend 15-20 minutes on writing early in the series of lessons. For a short time make sacrifices to reading. This will benefit reading later on.

Writing about reading- sometimes pick out 3 words from the text. Use these words to compose an interesting piece of writing.

Do our students know how to introduce themselves to a text? (Flick through pages. Form an impression. Wonder. Form questions.) Who is holding the new book? And turning the pages? Are we asking yes /no questions? Release responsibility.

Use the Weekly Record Of Known Reading Vocabulary to record word work in order to keep an easy-to-see record of words that were used for breaking / word work.

During roaming read some books to the student that will be encountered later in the series of lessons. Introduce some of the characters.

To get the student to notice a mismatch- Take the misread word from the text. Write the word within sound boxes. Ask the student to push a finger into the boxes to check if it matches the spoken word.

Use YouTube clips (sparingly) to add to book introductions, e.g. hermit crab, seagull. Great for EAL students.

Say ‘Start to say that word’ instead of ‘Get your mouth ready’.

Sometimes have the student bring the Writer’s Notebook to the lesson to make links between the classroom and Reading Recovery.

To save time- if the student worked on a word up on the practice page, the teacher can write it into the sentence.

Some prompts:

  • Say what you see.
  • Show me what you are thinking.
  • What do you see?
  • What are you thinking about that?
  • What are you wondering about?


Toward discontinuation- introduce dotted thirds to the lesson if the student is expected to use them in the classroom. Paste the dotted thirds sheet onto the lower page.

Do not phase out the cut-up sentence. Make it a more complex task.

Written message- does not always have to be rehearsed. Can be written / changed on the run. Mix it up. Do not accept the 1st utterance every day.

The teacher may write the 1st sentence in order to get a second sentence.

The teacher may write a part that the student knows well in order to get time to spend on the more interesting writing.

Record the student reading at the beginning of the series of lessons. Use this to show the improvement later on. (One peer used this to prove the benefit of RR to a new principal who was considering dropping RR.)


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