Valerie Ellery, Author of Creating Strategic Readers

Valerie Ellery presented three, high energy sessions at the Missouri Early Learning Conference … always to a packed house.  The three sessions covered the following four pillars of reading:  phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension. Her book covers all five pillars of reading.  It would be a great resource for RtI.



Ms. Ellery presented lessons to build the following PA strategies as well as an assessment for diagnosing your students' needs in this area..  Her book has all of this and more.


Isolating & Identifying Phonemes





My favorite lesson –  Hot Seats.

Purpose:  To recognize and dramatize positioning of isolated sonds.

Materials:  Three chairs, three cards each with one letter – B (beginning sound), M (middle sound), E (ending sound).

Directions:  Line up three chairs in the front of the room.  Attach one card to each chair and explain that these are the hot seats.

Question:  Where do you hear the "b" sound in "ball"?  Please sit in that chair … the beginning , middle, or end.

Extension:  Choose a word with more than three sounds.  Ask:  Where is the "n" sound in "Savannah".  Answer:  Child sits in middle chair.  Then, is the "n" sound closer to the beginning or end of Savannah?  Lean your body that way.



Ms. Ellery presented lessons to build the following phonics strategies. 








My favorite part of the phonics presentation was the phonics assessment that helps you know which strategy and/or technique a child needs to improve his/her use of phonics.  You can complete this assessment for one child or the entire class noting the groups of children who need each strategy.  Suddenly, you have your word work groups created.



Ms. Ellery presents lessons for the following strategies in this section.  As with every pillar of reading, she provides an assessment to diagnose your students' needs in this area.




Visual Imaging


Word Awareness

Wide Reading



My favorite lesson in this area is Eye Spy With My Eye for Visual Imaging.

Give the students magnifying glasses to do a picture walk.  Ask:  What do you think they are saying or doing?  What words do you think you will find?  What do you think will happen?



Finally, my favorite comprehension lesson was Story Impressions for Predicting.

Purpose:  To compose check, and modify predictions.

Procedure:  Give the students a list of 5-7 words from the text.  Ask them to write a prediction for what will happen in the story based on these words.  Share aloud.  After reading, check predictions.


Valerie Ellery is a dynamic, energizing presenter with great information to share.  If you ever have the chance to hear her speak, do not miss it!  Her book is the next best thing to experiencing her in person.  It is filled with great lessons for each pillar of reading.

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