“I feel good and great because I can read a lot of things. Now I can help myself and
I don’t need my Reading Recovery teacher to help me.”

– Reading Recovery Child

Lesson Objective

The objective of Reading Recovery lessons is to promote accelerated learning so that students catch up to their peers, close the achievement gap as quickly as possible, and can benefit from classroom instruction without supplemental help.

Individually Designed Lessons

Daily 30-minute Reading Recovery lessons are individually designed and individually delivered by specially trained teachers. Using a wide range of procedures, teachers make moment-by-moment decisions within each lesson to support the individual child.

Assessment Based on Systematic Observation

In Reading Recovery, careful observation of reading and writing behaviors guides teaching decisions. As teachers gather data they align their teaching with what a child actually does.

  • Reading Recovery teachers are trained to use Clay’s An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement to assess each child’s strengths and confusions.
  • The first 10 sessions provide further opportunities for assessment as the child engages in reading and writing.
  • The teacher takes a running record of the child’s progress on text reading every day and uses the data to plan future lessons.
  • The teacher uses other observational data to inform instruction: daily lesson records, students’ writing, and change over time in reading and writing vocabulary.

Lesson Content

  • Each lesson consists of reading familiar books, reading yesterday’s new book and taking a running record, working with letters and/or words using magnetic letters, writing a story, assembling a cut-up story, and reading a new book.
  • The teacher creates opportunities for the child to problem solve and provides just enough support to help the child develop strategic behaviors to use on texts in both reading and writing.

Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Spelling, Comprehension, and Fluency

  • Every lesson incorporates learning about letter/sound relationships.
  • Children are taught to hear and record sounds and to work with spelling patterns.
  • Reading Recovery encourages comprehension and problem solving with print so that decoding is purposeful and students read fluently.

Outcomes of Lessons

A series of Reading Recovery lessons has two positive outcomes:

  • The child meets grade-level expectations and can make progress with classroom instruction, no longer needing extra help. (This is the outcome for approximately 75% of the children with a complete Reading Recovery intervention.)
  • The child makes significant progress but does not reach grade-level expectations. Additional evaluation is recommended and further action is initiated to help the child continue making progress.


  • 1 Clay, M. M. (2005a). Literacy lessons designed for individuals part one: Why? when? and how? Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  • Clay, M. M. (2005b). Literacy lessons designed for individuals part two: Teaching procedures. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  • 2 Clay, M. M. (2002, 2006). An observation survey of early literacy achievement. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.