This gives the teacher of students in their first 2-3 years of instruction, the mandate to focus on decoding and not clutter up their teaching with any unnecessary attention to Constructing Meaning and Critical Thinking - they are just not ready for this while they are wrestling with cracking the code (decoding). By all means explore this higher order thinking in Shared Reading and after reading discussions but we think it is important to steer way from this during Guided Reading.
Please be reassured, we know that those first years MUST be about more than phonics. There must be a strong engagement in the message of the text, and we have ways of doing this without asking the reader to construct meaning WHILE they are decoding.
Once decoding fluency has been established and word attack and word recognition has become an automated process, there is now enough cognitive space in the head of the reader to develop mastery of the active reading skills required for constructing meaning and critical thinking that are the hallmark of the truly proficient reader (SharpReading Stages 3-6).