Skip to main content Skip to main content


Teaching Reading K-2: A Library of Classroom Practices

This video library shows the teaching practices of K-2 teachers nationwide who use research based methodologies to teach their students to read.

A video library for K-2 teachers; 12 half-hour video programs, one half-hour overview video, library guide, and website.

This video library features the teaching practices of a diverse cross-section of kindergarten through second grade teachers from across the country. The teachers introduce their students to reading through a variety of methodologies. The library includes nine half-hour classroom videos showing teachers and students engaged in effective reading practices; three half-hour longitudinal videos that show individual students developing reading skills over time; and one half-hour library overview.

Series Overview

The nine classroom videos and three student case study videos in this video library let viewers observe teachers and students in real, unscripted classrooms. The viewing activities and background information in the guide (available online and in print) provide grist for teacher discussion and reflection.

The secret to success for many excellent teachers is learning from other educators. As Becky Pursley, one of our featured teachers, explains, “The very best of what I do, I’ve learned from other teachers.” We hope each of these videos offers you a window into an exemplary classroom and the opportunity to learn from the successful practice of other teachers.

“I don’t often get to go into other teacher’s classrooms. If you can show me a video that’s going to give me that moment with another teacher — that’s huge!”

— Focus group participant

Video Library Components

Teaching Reading K-2: A Library of Classroom Practices includes:

(1 video, 27 minutes)
An overview of the collection and its components

Classroom Programs
(9 videos, 27 minutes each)
Literacy practices in action

Student Case Studies
(3 videos, 27 minutes each)
Student progress over time

The Library Guide (available on the web or PDF)

Individual Program Descriptions


The overview video summarizes the contents and the literacy issues of the entire video library. Included in the overview are clips from the classroom and student case study videos, as well as reflections from teachers and the project’s advisors.

Becoming Readers and Writers

Kindergarten teacher Sheila Owen’s literacy routines gradually develop student independence in reading and writing activities. Focusing on oral language development, Ms. Owen creates a classroom atmosphere where students are “never encouraged to be quiet.”

Writer’s Journal

John Sinnett emphasizes the three Rs — respect, responsibility, and relationships — in his kindergarten classroom. Following a careful, step-by-step process, his students write an entry in their journals, beginning with an illustration.

Building Oral Language

In kindergarten teacher Cindy Wilson’s classroom, oral language development is a primary literacy focus. Thematic classroom activities help her students make connections with their own — and each other’s — linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Connecting Skills to Text

Learning to read in Charmon Evans’s first-grade classroom is skills-oriented but fun. Ms. Evans plans her phonics instruction based on ongoing assessments of students’ reading and writing skills, and integrates that instruction into literature activities.

Assessment-Driven Instruction

In her first-grade classroom, Hildi Perez links ongoing assessment to instruction. Ms. Perez’s students learn to solve problems they encounter when reading or writing, and to articulate the strategies they use.

Students Making Choices

First-grade teacher Becky Pursley uses reading and writing workshops to emphasize student choice throughout her literacy curriculum. Balancing student freedom with a commitment to meeting state standards, Ms. Pursley uses teachable moments to present skills and concepts.

Promoting Readers as Leaders

In Valerie Kostandos’s first-grade classroom, students are readers, writers, and leaders who manage their daily routines. Her explicit teaching helps students reflect on their learning and develop independence.

Staying on Topic

Martha Duran-Contreras creates a community of learners in her second-grade class by establishing predictable routines, mutual respect, and clear expectations. Ms. Duran-Contreras comfortably uses both English and Spanish to support individual students and to provide explicit instruction.

100 Days of Reading

In Shari Frost’s multi-grade classroom, literacy activities have a real-world emphasis. Dr. Frost creates strong connections between language arts and other content areas.

Student Case Studies

Thalia Learns the Details

At the start of this case study, five-year-old Thalia, a student in a two-way bilingual kindergarten, loves books and writing, but needs to focus more on the details of the reading process. Over the course of the year, Thalia develops the pre-reading and writing skills she will need for first grade.

Cassandra Becomes a Fluent Reader

Over the course of her first-grade year, seven-year-old Cassandra builds fluency in reading by practicing reading with the class, in small groups, with a partner, and at home. Cassandra’s teacher and mother collaborate to support her literacy development.

William Finds His Base

William enters second grade as a struggling reader. His teacher places him in a reading group where he works on strategies to build understanding. By the end of the year, William has made significant progress. “He went from not liking reading to liking it and being able to do it,” says his mother.

Videos at a Glance

Using This Site

Teaching Reading K-2: A Library of Classroom Practices takes you to classrooms around the country to document the excitement and rigor of learning to read. The video collection captures the dedication, enthusiasm, and skills of teachers as they do the challenging and rewarding work of teaching reading.

This guide, available online and in PDF, features pre- and post-viewing activities and discussion questions to help you use the videos. For each video, the guide includes the following components:

Video Summary: A short synopsis of the contents of the video.

The Teacher and the Class: Background information on the teacher, the community, and the class to set the context for viewing. Includes quotations from the teacher, a “Day at a Glance” chart, and details about the teacher’s strategies, philosophy, and professional experiences.

Before Viewing: A series of activities that help you prepare to observe the video, and to become familiar with the viewing tools, including the Observational Checklist and the KWL Chart.

First Impressions: Questions and activities to use after viewing the video.

Looking Closer: Questions focusing on specific video segments or teacher materials to encourage deeper examination of specific literacy components or teaching strategies.

Summing Up: Questions to ask at the end of the viewing experience, probing the relationship between what you saw and your own teaching.

Making Connections: Suggestions for applying and extending what you’ve seen and discussed, including reading a relevant article, watching more videos in the Teaching Reading library, and considering which literacy strategies would work in your classroom.

Selected Resources: Books, articles, Web resources, and other materials used by the teacher or students, or recommended as further reading.

Viewing Tools

The following tools will help focus your viewing and reflections on the videos.

Observational Checklist (PDF): A checklist for recording what you see demonstrated in the videos, including the Essential Components of Literacy Development, the Literacy Teaching Practices, and the Elements of Classroom Environment. Each classroom will have some — although not necessarily all — of the practices and components listed on the checklist.

Key Questions (PDF): Overarching questions that help viewers examine important aspects of a literacy classroom, including: classroom environment, assessment, the diverse needs of learners, and the connection between reading and writing.

KWL Chart (Know-Wonder-Learn Chart) (PDF): A chart for accessing prior knowledge, and recording what you already know and what you would like to learn about the topics in the video. Groups can use the KWL to generate discussion and questions to consider while viewing.

Literacy Development Chart (PDF): A chart to record your observations of the students’ strength and weaknesses when watching the student case studies.

Classroom Strategy Planner (PDF): A record of a strategy — or strategies — you would like to try out in your classroom.

Viewing Suggestions

How you view Teaching Reading K-2: A Library of Classroom Practices will depend upon your needs and interests. You can view all 12 programs, groups of programs, or an individual program. You can organize your viewing by grade level, teacher focus, or student population. You may choose to follow the guide, step by step, or choose a particular set of questions and viewing tools. You can view the tapes alone or in a group. Whichever video(s) you choose to watch and however you choose to watch it, the following suggestions should enhance your viewing:

  • Read the Video Summary, The Teacher and the Class, and Before Viewing sections prior to watching the video. Use the Video Summary to help you decide if a particular video is going to meet your needs. The Teacher and the Class will give you some contextual information you may find helpful as you watch the video. If you are in a study group or running a workshop, you can copy this information for others to read.
  • Print out the tools you will use before you view and reflect on the video; e.g., Observational Checklist, KWL Chart, Key Questions, Classroom Strategy Planner, and Literacy Development Chart (for the student case studies).
  • Watch the video once in its entirety. After a first viewing, answer the questions in First Impressions. Then, watch the selected video segments featured in the Looking Closer section to focus on important teaching and learning moments in the video.
  • Extend your viewing by doing some of the activities in Making Connections. Read the suggested article, watch relevant videos in the collection, or try out a strategy you saw in the video.

Who Should Watch

  • Classroom teachers — alone, in workshops, or in study groups — to deepen your understanding of literacy.
  • Preservice teachers — as a practical resource to observe literacy instruction in action and connect theory with practice.
  • Teacher educators — to enhance your instruction and provide visual examples in workshops and courses.
  • Administrators, including supervisors, principals, and group or team leaders — to strengthen your understanding of literacy and build your capacity to provide instructional support to teachers
  • Parents — to introduce yourself to literacy instruction and learn about ways to support your children’s literacy development at home.

Technical Notes

To use the Teaching Reading Web Guide, we recommend the following:

Web browser:
Netscape 4.7 (or a higher version) or Internet Explorer 5.0 (or a higher version). (Javascript should be enabled, if your browser allows you to disable it.) Text fonts and colors may not be displayed correctly in older browsers.

To print a hard-copy version of this guide and to print the forms provided, you will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in. You can download this plug-in for free.

Copyright Information

Teaching Reading K-2: A Library of Classroom Practices is a production of WGBH Interactive and WGBH Educational Programming and Outreach for Annenberg Media.

Copyright © 2002 WGBH Educational Foundation. All rights reserved.

Production Credits

Web Site Production

Senior Producer
Ted Sicker

Curriculum Director
Denise Blumenthal

Library Guide Developers for Classroom Videos

Claudia Grose
Visiting Associate Professor, Language and Literacy
Northeastern University School of Education

Margery Staman Miller
Lesley University School of Education

Library Guide Developer for Student Case Studies
Mary Matthews
Curriculum Coordinator for Language Arts, K-8
Brookline Public Schools, Massachusetts

Curriculum Project Coordinator
Laura O’Neill

Core Advisors

Jeanne Paratore
Boston University

Robert Rueda
University of Southern California

Donna Ogle
National Louis-University

Christian Wise
Lisa Rosenthal

Web Developer
Joseph Brandt

Additional Writer
Laura O’Neill

With the Assistance Of
Mary Blout
Nina Farouk
Sandy Kendall
Yasmin Madan

Video Series Production

Core Advisors

Patricia Edwards
Michigan State University

Jeanne Paratore
Boston University

Robert Rueda
University of Southern California

Project Advisors

Eurydice Bauer
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Donna Ogle
National Louis-University

Linda Rath
Between the Lions (PBS)

Robin Rogers-Browne
Nashoba Regional School District, Massachusetts

Nancy Roser
University of Texas at Austin

James St. Clair
Cambridge Public School District, Massachusetts

Series Producers
Cynthia A. McKeown
Ann Peck

Mary-Kate Shea
Karen Silverstein

Production Assistants
Julie Rivinus
Michael Rossi

Bill Charette
Lance Douglas
Brian Dowley
Robin Hirsh
Stephen McCarthy

Steve Bores
Chris Bresnahan
Charlie Collias
James Lindsey

Production Manager
Mary Ellen Gardiner

On-line Editors
Maureen Barden
Mark Geffen
Glenn Hunsberger
John Sherrer

Sound Mix
John Jenkins
Dan Lesiw

Gaye Korbet
Daryl Myers
Bruce Walker

Jim Sullivan
Guy Van Duser

Judy Richardson

Post Production Associate Producer
Peter Villa

Production Coordinator
Mary-Susan Blout

Location Assistants
Alejandro Aguilar
Robert Laws
Kevin Szaflik

Business Manager
Joe Karaman

Unit Manager
Kimberly Langley

Office Coordinators
Justin Brown
Laurie Wolf

Project Director
Ali Farhoodi

Senior Project Director
Amy Tonkonogy

Executive Producer
Michele Korf

Books and Articles Documented in the Classrooms

Books and Articles Documented in the Classrooms

Where Is My Hat? by Joetta Beaver, illustrated by Laura Ovresat. Copyright 1997 by Upper Arlington Schools, copyright 1997 illustrations by Celebration Press. Published by Celebration Press. Used by permission of Pearson Education, Inc.

Brown, Marc T. Arthur’s New Puppy. Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown & Co., 1993.

Compestine, Ying Chang. The Runaway Rice Cake. New York, N.Y.: Copyright 2001 by Ying Chang Compestine. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Cowley, Joy. Go, Go, Go. from the Story Box Series. New York, N.Y.: Copyright 1995 Wright Group/McGraw Hill. (800) 523-2371.

Cutting, Jillian. Going to School. From the Sunshine Series. New York, N.Y.: Copyright 2000 Wright Group/ McGraw Hill. (800) 523-2371.

Henkes, Kevin. Sheila Rae the Brave. New York, N.Y.: Greenwillow Books, 1987.

Henry, Marguerite, and Joan Nichols. The Big Race. A Scholastic Phonics Reader. New York, N.Y.: Scholastic Inc., 1987.

Medearis, Angela Shelf. The 100th Day of School. New York, N.Y.: Scholastic Inc., 1996.

Peterson, John. The Littles Go Exploring. New York, N.Y.: Scholastic Book Services, 1978.

Prelutsky, Jack. “My Fish Can Ride a Bicycle.” A poem from the book Something Big Has Been Here. New York, N.Y.: Greenwillow Books, 1990.

Rahaman, Vishanti. Read for Me, Mama. Illustrated by Lori McElrath-Eslick. Honesdale, Penn.: Copyright 1997 by Vishanti Rahaman. Caroline House, Boyds Mills Press, Inc.

Randell, Beverly. Baby Bear’s Present. From Rigby PM Collection. Barrington, Ill.: Copyright 1994 by Beverly Randell. Rigby Education.

Randell, Beverly. Clever Fox. From Rigby PM Plus. Barrington, Ill.: Copyright 2000 by Beverly Randell. Rigby Education.

Randell, Beverly. House Hunting. From Rigby PM Collection. Barrington, Ill.: Copyright 1996 by Beverly Randell. Rigby Education.

Randell, Beverly. Mom. From Rigby PM Starters 1. Barrington, Ill.: Copyright 1996 by Beverly Randell. Rigby Education, 1996.

Reid, Susan. Rosie’s House. Barrington, Ill.: Copyright 1990 by Susan Reid. Rigby Education, 1990.

Rockewell, Anne. Pumpkin Day, Pumpkin Night. New York, N.Y.: Walker Publishing, 1999.

Rule, Christine. Shorty. Barrington, Ill.: Copyright 1992 by Christine Rule. Rigby Education, 1992.

Scholastic. Winter Is Coming to Alaska. An issue of Scholastic News, Scholastic Classroom Magazine. New York, N.Y.: Scholastic Inc., November/December 2001.

Sharmat, Marjorie Weinmann. Nate the Great Goes Down in the Dumps. Illustrated by Marc Simont. New York, N.Y.: Young Yearling, 1991.

Smith, Annette. New Boots. From Rigby PM Plus. Barrington, Ill.: Copyright 2000 by Annette Smith. Rigby Education.

Ziefert, Harriet. What Is Thanksgiving? New York, N.Y.: HarperFestival, 1992.

Music Documented in the Classrooms

Jack, David, and Susan Jack Cooper. “Gotta Hop” from the album Gotta Hop! Encinitas, Calif.: Copyright 1990 by Ta Dum Productions, Inc.

Lynch, Ray. Music from the album Deep Breakfast.
Courtesy of Ray Lynch Productions.
©1984. B.M.I. All rights reserved.

Moore, Thomas. “Good Morning” from the album Songs for the Whole Day. Copyright Thomas Moore.

Valeri, Michelle, and Michael Stein. “The Dinosaur Song” from the album Dinosaur Rock. Silver Spring, Md.: Copyright 1983 by Dinorock Productions, Inc.