Education Faculty Research and PublicationsEducation, College of
A Whole-Class Support Model for Early Literacy:
The Anna Plan
Pamela A. Miles
Lincoln Elementary School
Kathy W. Stegle
Lincoln Elementary School
Karen G. Hubbs
Lincoln Elementary School
Marquette University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Marla H. Mallette
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Originally published inThe Reading Teacher, Volume 58, No. 4 (December 2004), online at:
1 Miles, Stegle, Hubbs, Henk, & Mallette
A whole-class support model for early literacy: The Anna Plan
Authors: Pamela A. Miles, Kathy W. Stegle, Karen G. Hubbs, William A. Henk, Marla H.
Abstract: The Anna Plan is a unique delivery model for enhancing schoolwide literacy
instruction in the primary grades. Based on the principles of Reading Recovery and Four Blocks
literacy instruction, it provides supplementary reading instruction through the distinctive use of
teaching staff. Over six years, it has resulted in sweeping changes in the way literacy instruction
occurs as well as noteworthy increases in children's reading abilities. This article gives a brief
history of the authors' work within the Anna Plan, explains each of the model's seven tenets, and
describes the research base that drives it. The focal point of the article is the detailed description
of the organization and components of the five-day framework used to augment classroom
reading and writing instruction. Finally, the authors recount how the Anna Plan has been
embraced by two elementary schools and offer some conclusions about what contributes to the
success of whole-class support models for early literacy.
The success of an elementary school is measured largely by the literacy levels of its
students. For this reason, principals and teachers routinely seek ways to enhance both the nature
and delivery of the reading and writing instruction they provide. This article explains how our
primary-level classroom teachers and reading specialists, with the support of our administration in
the Anna School District, changed the nature and delivery of our Title I and Reading Recovery
support services to significantly increase the reading achievement of our students.
Our whole-class support model has come to be known as the Anna Plan by the many
teachers and administrators who visit our school district in Illinois, United States, to observe it in
action at Lincoln Elementary School. These educators come to see how we apply the principles
of Reading Recovery (Clay, 1979, 1993) and Four Blocks literacy instruction (Cunningham & Hall,
1996) with all of the primary-age students in our school through the distinctive use of our teaching
Although the delivery of the Anna Plan differs uniquely from other successful programs for
the prevention of reading problems (see Pikulski, 1994), it shares several essential principles of
program success including small-group instruction, an emphasis on first grade, the use of
developmentally appropriate texts and repeated readings of them, a focus on word solving and
phonemic awareness, consistency between supplementary and classroom reading instruction, a
writing component, and ongoing assessment of students' progress.
2 Miles, Stegle, Hubbs, Henk, & Mallette
Success for our students
Our reform efforts began in 1996 and have resulted in sweeping changes in the way
literacy instruction occurs in our school and in the noteworthy increases in our students' reading
abilities. When we began our journey, only 50% of our students met or exceeded the state
standards for reading. Not long afterward, nearly 90% of our students consistently met the
standards on statewide assessments. Today, although our students come from low
socioeconomic status (SES) homes and tend to begin school at very low literacy levels, some
75% of them could be classified as fluent readers by the end of the program in first grade.
As a result of our efforts, we have been recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education
as an "elite high poverty/high achieving school," which means that more than 50% of our homes
are low income and 60% of our students meet or exceed state standards in reading and math. We
are also honored that the Anna Plan (see Table 1) has been adopted or adapted by several other
schools in our state and beyond and that we have been recognized nationally as a model site for
literacy and early intervention. While we are gratified that our approach has been recognized by
the International Reading Association as one of its Exemplary Reading Programs, we care more
about the actual literacy success of our students and those who have come under its influence.
Their accomplishments are why we have been encouraged to share our story with fellow
educators, and helping other students is our motivation for writing this article.
In the following sections, we attempt to (a) provide a brief history of our six-year effort, (b)
explain each of the seven tenets of the model, (c) describe its research base, (d) detail our
five-day plan for instructional delivery, (e) describe how our model has been embraced by two
elementary schools in our region, and (f) offer some conclusions about what we believe
contributes to the success of whole-class support models for early literacy.
A brief history
Prior to 1996 our elementary building had one half-time and three full-time reading
teachers serving grades 1-7 through a variety of pull-out and instructional programs, including
Reading Recovery. While our teachers were pleased with the individualized instruction the
program offered, we were intent on finding a way to serve all the primary students in our school
because our reading achievement scores were at or below the national average and had been on
the decline over several years. The district administration and school board decided to make
reading their top priority in the primary grades, and they asked three of us (Pam, Kathy, and
3 Miles, Stegle, Hubbs, Henk, & Mallette
Karen), as Title I reading specialists and Reading Recovery teachers, to present a plan of action
for reading improvement.
The plan needed to include alternatives to the existing Title I program (Title I is a federally
funded program for at-risk students), which until then had consisted of in-class support and
Reading Recovery for grade 1, small-group pull-out programs for grades 2 through 5, and in-class
support for grades 6 and 7. For this task, we were fortunate to have worked directly within our Title
I program and to have received training in, and experience with, Reading Recovery. We had
closely observed numerous children's reading behaviors and were pleased that many of our
at-risk first graders were becoming independent readers through the program.
As it turned out, the free and reduced-cost lunch count at our school (an index of SES)
showed that, in grades kindergarten through second, we would soon qualify for schoolwide
designation. This designation would permit Title I funds to be used to serve every student in the
primary grades. It also allowed us to implement a preferred-support model based upon seven key
tenets. That is, as we originally conceived it, the model for the Anna Plan was required to
• focus on research-based best practices,
• allow for common professional development,
• serve all students,
• provide for continuity within and between grade levels,
• permit time each week for collaboration among teachers,
• scaffold each student to work at her or his instructional reading level, and
• maintain a team orientation.
We began the change process with these seven tenets in mind and tried to remain true to them.
We spent the remainder of the school year visiting successful programs, attending conferences,
reading selected journal articles, and talking with experts about our literacy program. All of these
sources contributed to our plan.
Research base for the Anna Plan
Marie Clay's (1993) Reading Recovery research showed us the importance of explicit
reading strategy instruction with at-risk emerging readers. To learn more about strategy
instruction, we visited a classroom that used the Arkansas Plan for Early Literacy, a variation of
Reading Recovery, which was developed at the University of Arkansas. Here Reading Recovery
4 Miles, Stegle, Hubbs, Henk, & Mallette
strategies were taught to small groups of at-risk first graders (Dorn & Allen, 1996) but with an
important difference. What made the model innovative was that students whose strategy use
needed more scaffolding were given continued help in the first half of second grade. During the
second half of the school year, the Arkansas Plan focused on enhancing the reading readiness of
at-risk kindergartners instead. This creative use of time became an important part of the Anna
Our thinking was still not complete, however. At the 1995 National Reading Recovery
Conference in Columbus, Ohio, we attended an extremely helpful session that highlighted a team
approach for early literacy in one classroom. In this approach, the Title I teacher, aides, and
classroom teacher (who was trained in Reading Recovery) assisted small groups of students in
guided reading. This example gave us the idea of forming reading teams with our classroom
teachers for small-group instruction. By grouping students in each class according to instructional
reading levels, we could apply Reading Recovery strategies in reading and writing with every
student in our K-2 school.
The National Reading Recovery Conference also exposed us to the philosophy and
research base of the Four Blocks literacy instructional model developed by Patricia Cunningham.
She introduced us to a balanced approach to literacy lessons in which teachers engage students
in meaningful reading and writing activities and model word structure and independent thinking
strategies (Cunningham & Allington, 1994, 1998).
Common professional development
We knew that shared training for all K-2 teachers on the elements of balanced literacy
would help bring about important mutual understandings. For the remainder of the school year,
our instructional team (consisting of Pamela, Kathy, and Karen; the entire K-2 faculty; our
instructional aides; and our principal) attended literacy workshops. These workshops focused on
balanced reading and writing, guided reading, and taking and analyzing running records—all
integral aspects of the Anna Plan. Our primary-grades team began to develop a common
knowledge base and philosophy for reading instruction, and we would work hard at implementing
and maintaining these beliefs through ongoing professional development and teacher dialogue.
Inclusive of all children
Before the Anna Plan, our at-risk students missed a good deal of regular classroom
instruction and related assignments because of their participation in a pull-out program (Allington,
1994). The classroom teachers felt that these students most needed the classroom instruction,
and they felt uncomfortable introducing new concepts and skills during these times. They knew
5 Miles, Stegle, Hubbs, Henk, & Mallette
that reteaching would be necessary, and because much of it would have to occur during breaks or
free time, the students would feel that they were being penalized, especially when they had
homework that other students had completed in class.
There was also a stigma attached to pull-out programs that was disturbing to many
parents. The Title I program was isolated from the rest of the curriculum, and the isolation
frequently prevented transfer from one activity to the other. Not only did the program fail to serve
all students in need but also opportunities to exit the program were very limited.
Our first attempt to solve these problems was a push-in program in first grade. Reading
Recovery teachers were teamed with classroom teachers, and the model allowed Reading
Recovery strategies to be modeled with larger groups of students. However, the daily time spent
setting up the classrooms for groups was not productive, and the lack of time for advance
planning prevented adequate continuity of instruction.
Continuity within and between grade levels
Individual teaching philosophies had not been carefully considered prior to the Anna Plan.
Teachers were diverse in their philosophies and delivery methods. These differences tended to
be based on each teacher's education and experience— whether they were oriented toward
whole language, phonics, or a combination of both. The basal program was considered to be the
nucleus of our reading curriculum, with instruction dictated by the scope and sequence of the
series. This approach lacked consistency because different basals were used in different grades.
We recognized that all of our team needed to be "on the same page" in order to determine goals
for our school, develop a balanced approach to student-centered instruction, and lessen the
confusions that were created for our students within and between grade levels.
Weekly collaboration and planning time
We also knew that common planning time would allow for a clear understanding of our
school's shared goals—an important cornerstone of successful reading programs. These shared
understandings have been accomplished in the Anna Plan through a creative approach related to
the weekly planning time built into our schedule. During this time, one of the Title I reading
specialists leads a whole-group activity in the regular classroom, while the classroom teacher
discusses student progress and plans with the other two reading specialists.
Scaffolding children at their instructional reading levels
The Anna Plan provides daily teaching of students grouped according to their instructional
reading levels. Our model for guided reading is based on dynamic grouping in which ability to
process text is a determining factor (Cunningham, Hall, & Cunningham, 2000; Fountas & Pinnell,
6 Miles, Stegle, Hubbs, Henk, & Mallette
1996). Change in grouping is expected, and flexible groupings are used for other purposes as
appropriate. The students are grouped according to their specific, demonstrated strengths in
reading and the related appropriate levels of text difficulty. Books are chosen for each group from
a variety of titles on the appropriate level. Within each class, some of the levels overlap, but
generally they are not the same for all four groups at any one time.
The process of teaching we use places meaning and language understandings in the
foreground with appropriate attention given to words in text. Important skills and strategies are
incorporated with our reading lessons by having students apply them directly to texts that lend
themselves to this kind of practice. High-frequency words are a consideration, but vocabulary is
not artificially controlled. All students read the entire leveled text to themselves and read
selections several times to promote fluency and better comprehension. We try to balance our
focus on reading for meaning with the use of flexible problem-solving strategies. Evaluation is
based on daily observation and weekly running records. This systematic individual assessment
indicates whether students' oral reading levels are consistent with their group placement and
whether they should progress to the next level.
A team orientation
As teachers who had worked with at-risk students, we recognized that inconsistent
instruction contributed to their confusion. This awareness prompted us to use a team approach in
which classroom teachers. Title I reading specialists, instructional aides, and parents worked as
partners. The approach started with the professional development of our staff.
The administrators, teachers, and instructional aides on our team all attended workshops
and training sessions together, hearing the same concepts at the same time from the same
facilitator. Collaborative planning sessions were scheduled to discuss how and what parts of this
new information would be implemented into our curriculum. In addition, parent training sessions
were scheduled periodically throughout the school year to model instructional methods. This
training helped build relationships and bridge the gap between home and school. With our seven
tenets addressed, we began implementing the Anna Plan detailed in Table 1.
The five-day Anna Plan
In the Anna Plan, each of the first- and second-grade classrooms is scheduled for its own
25-minute instructional period in a special classroom that has come to be called "The Reading
Room." Here the teacher and her students join the three Title I reading specialists for small-group
instruction. In the Reading Room, four small groups operate simultaneously, with each one being
7 Miles, Stegle, Hubbs, Henk, & Mallette
taught either by the classroom teacher or one of the reading specialists. The four groups are
formed within each classroom at the beginning of the school year on the basis of the students'
instructional reading levels on the spring testing of the Developmental Reading Assessment.
The Reading Room is divided into work areas by partitions, forming four miniclassrooms.
The miniclassrooms are equally furnished with kidney-shaped tables and literacy tools such as
magnetic whiteboards, books, word walls, pocket charts, and magnetic letters. An additional area
of this room is set up for whole-group modeling with a rug and large whiteboard. Still another
space houses the classroom library, which includes multiple copies of leveled Reading Recovery
books and beginning chapter books.
Each small group remains with one teacher for two weeks before moving to the next
teacher for instruction. The four groups are fluid, with students moving from one group to another
as their needs dictate. This rotation allows for each teacher to spend time with students in a
small-group setting. It also gives the classroom teacher the opportunity to obtain a sense of all her
students' reading and writing strengths and weaknesses before the end of the first grading period
and the first parent-teacher conferences.
At the midyear point, we extend our services to the kindergarten classrooms. This
expansion is possible because, like the Arkansas Plan, we are able to discontinue our
second-grade program at that point because almost all of our students are fluent by then. The
instruction provided to our kindergartners centers around readiness levels, concepts about print,
and phonological awareness.
Day 1—Introduction to a new book
On the first day, a new leveled Reading Recovery text (levels 1-20) is introduced to a small
group of students all reading at or about the same instructional reading level (e.g., 90%-95% oral
reading accuracy as indicated by the weekly running record assessments). Our library of books
includes eight copies of each title and represents various genres. The number of titles at any
particular level is dependent upon the number of classes served. We typically serve four sections
of kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. Multiple copies of the same titles are required
when, for instance, first-grade high achievers and lower achieving second graders require books
at the same instructional level.
In planning instruction, the teacher selects a book and determines the amount of support
necessary to introduce it. This decision will depend upon an assessment of the students' current
processing abilities using guidelines described more fully in the section on Day 5 Planning.
When introducing a book, the teacher must be cognizant of the key elements of before,
8 Miles, Stegle, Hubbs, Henk, & Mallette
during, and after reading. The teacher's role for before reading is to activate the students' prior
knowledge about the book, discuss book concepts and language structure, encourage them to
predict and locate new or unusual words, instruct them on a particular reading strategy, and give
them a purpose for reading. The students' role is to engage in conversation, make personal
connections and predictions, raise questions, and notice illustrations and information in the text.
Following the book introduction, the during reading phase begins. The teacher distributes
a copy of the book to each child in the small group and then listens in to observe the readers'
behaviors. Here the teacher is looking for evidence of the reading strategies used, confirming the
students' attempts at problem solving, interacting with them when they experience difficulty, and
noting individual strengths and weaknesses in reading.
The students' role during reading is to softly read aloud the new book at their own pace,
check predictions, confirm questions, and self-monitor as they read. This task should not be
confused with choral reading or round-robin reading, both of which lack a comprehension
dimension. Instead, as the students gain meaning from the text, their attempts at problem solving
should include the modeled reading strategy as well as previously learned ones.
When the first reading of the new book is completed, the after reading phase gets
underway. The teacher and students discuss how they problem solved any "tricky parts" and how
their predictions fared. The teacher concludes the daily lesson by praising the students for the
strategies they used.
Day 2—Working with the new book
Day 2 of the Anna Plan is spent on the same new book used on Day 1. This session focuses on
reading comprehension and includes a language minilesson, rereading of familiar text, and the
taking of running records.
In the first five minutes or so, students discuss or retell the new story. The goal here is to
build comprehension skills. The teacher may have the students retell the story without looking at
the book, prompting them to include story elements such as character, setting, problem, plot, and
resolution. The students are also asked whether their connections to the story are book-to-self,
book-to-book, or book-to-world types (Harvey & Goudvis, 2000). At times the teacher may use a
graphic organizer to help build comprehension. At other times, the teacher may have the students
concentrate on questioning strategies. In effect, the teacher must decide what comprehension
strategies will enable a particular group to succeed with a particular book.
In the language minilesson, which takes about two to three minutes, the teacher works on
knowledge and skills related to the book that will help the students when reading other new texts.
9 Miles, Stegle, Hubbs, Henk, & Mallette
For instance, a sample language minilesson could help them learn how to interpret a punctuation
mark, how to make their voices sound when reading words written in italics, or how to use the
table of contents.
After the completion of the language mini-lesson, the new book from Day 1 is handed out
to the students to be read again. When the reading is completed, individual reading folders
containing familiar books are passed out so the students can practice reading for fluency. At this
time the teacher pulls students aside individually to administer a weekly running record.
Running records provide useful measures of how well students read their new books. In
the Anna Plan, we use running records to provide important information for planning day-to-day
instruction, guiding our decisions about grouping, monitoring their progress, observing strengths
and difficulties, and allowing them to move through book levels at different rates while keeping
track of individual progress.
Day 3—Word Work
Day 3 of the plan centers on working with words. Here students are taught to be "word
solvers," taking words apart while reading for meaning and constructing words while writing to
communicate. In both writing and reading, word solvers use a range of skills. The teacher's role
on Day 3 is to instruct students on strategies they can use to make connections between
letter-sound relationships, visual patterns, and ways to construct meaning. The process of
teaching students to become word solvers is always dynamic (Pinnell & Fountas, 1998, 1999).
We operate on the principle that word solving is more than mere word learning. It involves the
discovery of the rules underlying the construction of the words that make up texts.
In the Anna Plan, teachers must be keen observers of each student's reading and writing
behaviors, whether they pertain to word identities or meaning construction. By interpreting these
behaviors, they can focus on the individual in order to plan developmentally appropriate
word-work lessons for Day 3 (Vygotsky, 1962, as cited in Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton, & Johnston,
2000). These lessons could include activities such as Making Words, Guess the Covered Word,
extending word walls, using onsets and rimes, whiteboard practice, and the like (Clay, 1993;
Cunningham & Hall, 1996; Cunningham et al., 2000). Through the application of these word-work
activities the students develop a foundation for becoming independent readers and writers.
Day 4 of the plan is devoted to student writing. Learning to write letters, words, and
sentences helps students make the visual discrimination of detail in print that they will use in
reading (Clay & Watson, 1982). During Day 4, the students receive direct instruction, guidance,
10 Miles, Stegle, Hubbs, Henk, & Mallette
and support in a learning atmosphere that encourages risk taking. The teacher starts out with a
modeled minilesson of a developmentally appropriate skill that the small group of students will
need in order to become more independent in their writing.
To enhance writing instruction, each mini-classroom has print-rich environments equipped
with word walls and posters for color words and number words. The students write in unlined 8
1/2" X 11" journals that are stapled landscape style. When the journals are opened up for writing,
the top page is used for the practice page and the bottom page is used for the "published" page.
The ideas for writing come from the students themselves. They are encouraged to use
their own language experience as a springboard to begin writing. The teacher prompts them by
saying, "What would you like to tell about today in your writing?" It is important that the response
be recorded exactly as the student said it and that it is then read back to the student. Doing
anything else will confuse the student about the very things that individual language experience is
supposed to be clarifying.
During writing, students are encouraged to pay attention to letter details, phonemes, and
the sequence of letters. They are also taught to use familiar words they have learned as a basis
for writing unfamiliar words. Invented spelling is acceptable for unknown words. The students
reread their written message to themselves to link their oral language to the print form.
The teacher is primarily a facilitator during process writing. He or she monitors the
students' work and intervenes when needed to prompt strategies they can use to help themselves
when writing. In the last few minutes of Day 4, the teacher has the students share what they have
written in the Author's Chair, a special seat that is set aside for the young writers to tell the others
in their small group what they have composed.
Day 5 of the Anna Plan is the glue that holds the program together. Time for weekly collaborative
planning, which includes conferring, engaging in dialogue about students' progress, and
discussing schedules, is vital to implementation of the plan. On this day, one of the three Title I
reading specialists goes into a classroom teacher's room for a whole-group activity during the
regularly scheduled 25-minute period. This procedure allows each classroom teacher to come to
the Reading Room to plan for the following week with the two remaining Title I reading specialists.
Planning includes discussions about students' group placements, individual student progress,
rotation of groups among the teachers, book level choices, reading and comprehension strategies
focus, language minilessons, scheduling for the week, and coordinating word-wall words. All
teachers on the team must be consistent in the introduction and study of high-frequency words
11 Miles, Stegle, Hubbs, Henk, & Mallette
that will expand the students' word knowledge.
On the weekly planning day, we evaluate possible shifts of individual students within the
four small classroom groups. Trends in students weekly running record evaluations are
considered for their group placement. Changes in group placement could be necessary for
students making accelerated progress or those who might need a more supportive group in order
to assure their continued progress.
On Day 5, the team also decides on upcoming book choices. Factors that we keep in mind
when making a book choice for the small groups include concept familiarity, interest and appeal,
skill application, students' current ability to use word analysis and prediction, the support provided
by illustrations, text length, print clarity, the number of lines of text, word spacing, and the
appropriateness of the text layout.
After selecting appropriate texts, we decide on a reading comprehension strategy that
needs to be emphasized for each group, and each teacher plans a language minilesson that will
help the students read that text and other new texts. A word-work lesson is also selected, and
materials are gathered that facilitate this activity. Finally, a modeled writing minilesson is planned
that will be used prior to the students' journal writing.
Adaptations of the Anna Plan
Two of the schools in our region that have been influenced by our model are Washington
Elementary School and DuQuoin Elementary School. Both of these sites have adapted the Anna
Plan to meet their respective needs. One common thread in all of the sites that have modeled
themselves after ours is the connection to Reading Recovery, yet both schools built their own
Washington Elementary School, located in Marion, Illinois, began its implementation in
the spring of 1997. The principal at that school first heard about the Anna Plan in connection with
the Exemplary Reading Program Award our Lincoln Elementary School had received from the
International Reading Association. After spending some time with us at the Southern Illinois
Reading Conference, he selected teachers to visit Anna to learn more about the program. He felt
that the Anna Plan framework would fill a void in Washington's Title I services because both the
pull-out and push-in programs at his school were problematic. After the visit, the teachers
reported how impressed they were with what they had observed and worked with the principal to
begin establishing their program right away. The version of the Anna Plan used at Washington
12 Miles, Stegle, Hubbs, Henk, & Mallette
School became known as Small Groups.
During the first year of the program, only two first-grade classrooms participated. The
following year, which became the first full year of implementation; Small Groups took place in all
first-grade classrooms. In the second year, the program moved into two second-grade
classrooms, and during the third year, kindergarten was added, and full implementation occurred
in second grade. Third grade was added during year four, and the fourth and fifth grades were
added during year five. Now, in the sixth year, all grades participate in Small Groups with multiple
groups running daily.
In order to provide Small Groups to all the students at Washington School, the single
Reading Room was expanded to three Reading Rooms. In each Reading Room, one member of
the team is always the classroom teacher; however, the other three members vary by grade
levels. The three Reading Rooms are run by educators of varying professional degrees and
experiences who work together as a team and share the desire to improve literacy services in all
grades. In many ways, Small Groups has become the heart of Washington School's overall
The adaptation of the Anna Plan at DuQuoin Elementary School occurred differently
from the way Small Groups developed at Washington Elementary. In DuQuoin, the Reading
Recovery teachers first heard about the Anna Plan and asked their principal if they could make a
site visit to learn more about it. When the teachers returned, they told the principal that they
would like to implement a similar plan at their school. The principal cautioned them that this
would be a great deal of work, but the teachers wanted to implement what they had seen, and
thus the Anna Plan became the catalyst for what is termed Team Time in DuQuoin.
Team Time is actually very similar to the original Anna Plan because the DuQuoin
teachers had considerable contact with our school as they developed their program. Team
Time has two Reading Rooms. One Reading Room is reserved for first grade where Team
Time takes place in the morning and Reading Recovery in the afternoon. The second room
provides services for kindergarten and second grade. The teams for each room include two
Reading Recovery teachers and one paraprofessional. The Reading Recovery teachers work
very closely with the classroom teachers to ensure consistency between classroom instruction
and Team Time.
Implications for teachers and principals
13 Miles, Stegle, Hubbs, Henk, & Mallette
Beyond the increase in students' reading achievement, the Anna Plan has transformed
the atmosphere in our school in exciting ways (see Shrake, 1999). There is a spirit of pride,
enthusiasm, and accomplishment that pervades our building. Teachers feel as though they are
truly making a difference in students' lives. They are gratified about their professional
development, and they are more confident that their literacy instruction has finally "come
together." The students themselves are more confident and appreciate the small-group work
and increased levels of instructional attention they receive. In fact, all of these statements can
be made about the programs at Washington and DuQuoin Elementary schools as well.
We believe that the success of support models like Small Groups and Team Time
depends first on the dedication of the teachers and principal and then on how closely the model
adheres to the basic tenets of the Anna Plan. Both programs rightly focus on best literacy
practices and aim to meet the specific needs of all students in the primary grades, in part
through the staff's commitment to professional development. The use of teachers trained in
Reading Recovery in the Reading Rooms provides for instructional consistency within and
between grade levels and in scaffolding each student to work at her or his instructional reading
level. The whole-class support models also maintain a team orientation and place a high value
on regularly scheduled collaborations among teachers.
It has been rewarding to watch adaptations of the Anna Plan take hold in school districts
within and beyond our state. The many schools that have adapted the plan happily report their
success to us. All of them are performing well. For example, Washington and DuQuoin
Elementary schools have both been recognized by the state for their stellar literacy programs, and
an elementary school in Olney, Illinois, that adapted our model was recently selected for an IRA
Exemplary Program Award.
The use of Reading Recovery techniques with small groups is not a novel idea. This
practice is now being implemented in many schools nationwide. However, these programs tend to
use small groups to provide continued support to current Reading Recovery students (Taylor,
Short, Frye, & Shearer, 1992) or to support only those students waiting for Reading Recovery
services (see, e.g., MacKenzie, 2001). By contrast, whole-class models like the Anna Plan
include all students at the grade levels the programs serve.
The Anna Plan provides educators with a unique and fresh approach to reading instruction.
It brings together the concepts of team teaching, collaboration, and professional development for
teachers as well as the concepts of early intervention, scaffolding, continuity, and balanced
literacy for students. As an alternative to pull-out approaches that are reportedly ineffective, the
14 Miles, Stegle, Hubbs, Henk, & Mallette
Anna Plan reaffirms the value of small-group instruction in meeting students' literacy needs and
targeting their strengths (Allington, 1994; Walp & Walmsley, 1995). In sum, our whole-class
literacy model provides a catalyst for rethinking the delivery of high-quality reading instruction and
perhaps revitalizing literacy educators. Our hope in sharing our story is that the lives of many
more students will be touched by the literacy growth the Anna Plan promises.
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Cunningham, P.M., & Allington, R.L. (1994). Classrooms that work: They can all read and write.
New York: HarperCollins College Publishers.
Cunningham, P.M., & Allington, R.L. (1998). Classrooms that work: They can all read and write
(2nd ed.). New York: HarperCollins College Publishers.
Cunningham, P.M., & Hall, D.P. (1996). The Four Blocks: A framework for reading and writing in
classrooms that work. Clemmons, NC: Windward Productions.
Cunningham, P.M., Hall, D.P., & Cunningham, J.W. (2000). Guided reading: The Four Blocks way.
Greensboro, NC: Carson-Dellosa.
Dorn, L, & Allen, A. (1996). Helping low-achieving first-grade readers: A program combining
Reading Recovery tutoring and small-group intervention. Literacy, Teaching, and
Learning, 2(1), 50-60.
Fountas, I.C., & Pinnell, G.S. (1996). Guided reading: Good first teaching for all children.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Harvey, S., & Goudvis, A. (2000). Strategies that work. York, ME: Stenhouse.
MacKenzie, K.K. (2001). Using literacy booster groups to maintain and extend Reading Recovery
success in the primary grades. The Reading Teacher, 55, 222-234.
Pikuiski, J.J. (1994). Preventing reading failure: A review of five effective programs. The Reading
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Teacher, 48, 30-39.
Pinnell, G.S., & Fountas, I.C. (1998). Word matters. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Pinnell, G.S., & Fountas, I.C. (1999). Voices on word matters. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Shrake, L.R. (1999). Effecting change in an early literacy program: A change agent focus.
Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.
Taylor, B.M., Short, R.A., Frye, B.J., & Shearer, B.A. (1992). Classroom teachers prevent reading
failure among low-achieving first-grade students. The Reading Teacher, 45, 592-597.
Waip, T.P., & Walmsley, S.A. (1995). Scoring well on tests or becoming genuinely literate:
Rethinking remediation in a small rural school. In R.L. Ailington & S.A. Walmsley (Eds.),
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New York: Teachers College Press.
• Miles teaches at Lincoln Elementary School in Anna, Illinois. She can be contacted at
1175 Kratzinger Road, Cotden, IL 62920, USA. Stegle and Hubbs also teach at
Lincoln Elementary. Henk teaches at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Mallette teaches at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
16 Miles, Stegle, Hubbs, Henk, & Mallette
The five-day Anna Plan at a glance
of new book
• Book concepts/
• First reading of
• Review of
of new book
• Rereading of
new book for
• Making Words
• Guess the
• Onsets and
• Practice with
• Familiar words
• Linking written
• Author’s Chair
• Book choices
• Focus of