The end is near… can you feel it? What does it feel like to you? Is it your toes in the sand? Is it a margarita in your hand? Is it turning off your alarm clock? Is it losing track of the days? Oh yes… the end is near!
Now, back to the current task at hand: finishing the year. The End of the Year can be one of the craziest times for a teacher. Our To-Do List goes on and on! We have state testing, end of the year assessments, report cards, class placements, cleaning your classroom, packing up, and don’t forget that small task of providing your students with memorable activities that you want them to remember you for! We are here to give you advice on how we End the Year LIKE A BOSS!
1. What are You Waiting For? Get Going!
As mentioned before, a teacher’s To-Do List is a mile long! Make a list of all of the things that you need to do before that glorious day when you get into your car and pull out of the parking lot. (By the way, is there any better moment?)
Sort your To-Do List into tasks that you can get done now and tasks that have to wait. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you when to get the next task done. Getting your end of the year tasks done early will help you feel less stressed and less overwhelmed!
Getting your To-Do List in order will help you focus on the most important aspect of teaching… your students! Take your time to enjoy your students! You worked so hard with them all year, so enjoy them! Make the time to do some fun activities that you normally don’t have time for in your regular school day. Build those relationships! Smile with them! Is there a time that you could play kickball? What about grabbing a blanket and reading outside under a tree? Take the time to create special moments with your students that they will remember forever!
Look back at your year with your students. Take a morning and have your students fill out a memory from your year together on a slip of paper and have them add it to a jar. Whenever you have a spare moment, pull out a memory and read it to your class!
Here’s why we love this activity:
Memories build relationships. Relationships are the most important part of teaching!
These memories are a feedback tool for you! If your students enjoyed a particular activity, be sure you repeat it with your students next year! Take note of common responses! Notice what your students value and build on that for the following year!
4. No Prep Fun
Just because you made a To-Do List doesn’t mean that you checked everything off already! Trust us, we get it! You need time to get things done, but your students also need to be provided with some quality “End of the Year Fun!” Grab some No Prep End of the Year resources to keep your students busy, while you keep checking off that mile long list of things to do!
Click the Image Above or the Individual Links Below to Check out some No Prep End of the Year Activities!
If there’s anything more crazy than the End of the Year, it’s the Beginning of the Year! Are we right?! Ask yourself: “What can I do THIS year that will help me NEXT year?”
Here’s what we ALWAYS make sure we do before leaving for summer vacation:
Give next year’s students a welcoming letter, a summer challenge, and a school supply list! This might seem a little overwhelming, but it’s not! How do you know which students you will get? You don’t! Get with your whole grade level and make a common supply list! Then, pass these things out to the ENTIRE grade level below you that will enter your grade next year! Click HERE!
Bulletin Boards! Plan and prep your bulletin boards for Back to School! Can you leave your boards up? Great! Get them all ready so you are ready to roll! Have to take them down? Plan your boards out and have everything ready to put up when you get back!
Plan! Get with your team and plan the first few weeks of school. How will you start the year off? Get your lesson plans done so that when you get back, you will have one less thing to do! Want to see how we plan for our whole year and teach every standard? We have a blog post just for you! CLICK HERE!
Copies! Want to know when the copy room is empty? The end of the year! Everyone is so focused on short activities for their students and finishing up things they didn’t get to throughout the year that the copy room is a ghost town! Get in there and prep the first few weeks of school! You will thank yourself next year! We promise!
Hello! We are so happy that you are here to learn something new! Did you just get Chromebooks, laptops or other forms of technology? Are you making the switch to go digital? Are you new to using Google Classroom? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are in the right place! We are going to take you through the process of uploading and assigning a digital resource to Google Classroom! Let’s get started!
*Before we begin, please make sure that you are already signed into your Google Account*
Step 1: Go into Teachers Pay Teachers and got to “My Purchases.” Find the resource you would like to assign to your class and click “Download Now.”
Step 2: Click the PDF in the bottom left hand corner of your screen.
Step 3: Click the link to open the resource.
Step 4: Click “Make a Copy.”
Step 5: A copy of the resource has now been saved to your Google Drive. The resource will appear. You can exit out at this point and head on over to Google.
Step 6: Go to Google. Click on the waffle. Click on “Google Classroom.”
Step 7: Click the class that you would like to complete the activity.
Step 8: Click “Classwork” at the top and then click “Create”
Step 9: Click “Assignment”
Step 10: Title the assignment, give instructions, assign a point value and topic if necessary.
Step 11: Click on the Google Drive icon on the bottom left of your screen
Step 12: Find the resource you would like to assign. Click on that resource.
The LAST STEP: Click “Assign”
That’s it! You’re DONE!
Sometimes, seeing the process in action can help! We have uploaded a video to help!
You have successfully uploaded a digital resource to Google Classroom!
Are you looking for some digital resources to get you started? Check out these resources below! Click on the Images!
Check out these resources below! Click on the Images!
Looking for other resources? We have Digital Task Cards for every Vocabulary Standard and every Grammar and Language Standard individually and even bundled in one ready to use resource! Hop on over to our store and take a browse! Click HERE!
Want to grab our Grammar and Language Digital Task Card Bundle for FREE? Enter our raffle below!
Why We Created Standards Based Brochures
You know that stress that you have every single year? You know, the yearly question: “What grade level will you teach next school year?” Well, one year, Deserae got handed a 4/5 combo class! Yikes! As the year progressed, she started making one brochure at a time just to keep students in one grade level busy while she finished up a lesson with the other grade level. I remember walking in and picking up a brochure and quickly said, “Ummm, hello! I NEED these!” Standards Based Brochures were not just for a combo class. Standards Based Brochures are a necessity for every classroom!
What are Standards Based Brochures?
Standards Based Brochures are a ready to use resource that will have students applying what they are learning to the books that they are reading. Each Standards Based Brochure lists the standard, gives a place for students to write a definition, provides a place to list examples, and lists questions for students to consider as they are reading. Standards Based Brochures then provide students with five opportunities for practice using the standard chosen. Brochures can be used with class read aloud books, independent reading books or picture books. Students find the standard they are practicing in the books they are reading. Then, students prove their findings in the frames provided. Each Standards Based Brochure walks students through the standard so that they are able to do the brochure independently.
Why Use Standards Based Brochures?
In our classrooms, we want our students to take the standards that they are learning out of a superficial context and into an authentic one. Standards Based Brochures are a way for students to connect what they read to what they are learning. Our ultimate goal is to have our students read with binoculars on that zoom in and find how the author is using the standard in the book.
Why Teachers LOVE Standards Based Brochures
Standards Based Brochures hit so many “checks” for teachers! Spiral Review… CHECK! Independent Practice… CHECK! No Prep… CHECK! We love using Standards Based Brochures in our classrooms! We use them for Small Group Instruction, Early Finishers, Intervention Groups, and ways for parents to help their child at home! Want to find out more about each of these? Click the image below or HERE
What Standards are Covered in the Standards Based Brochure Bundles?
Cover Your Standards Using Standards Based Brochures!
Standards Based Brochures - YouTube
Character Traits, Making Inferences, Theme, Character Motivation, Character Change, Character Analysis, Plot, Mood, Types of Conflict, Tone, Types of Characters, Compound Sentences and Conjunctions, Punctuating Dialogue, Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases, Parts of Speech, Poetry, Point of View, Author’s Purpose, Drama
Character Traits, Making Inferences, Theme, Character Motivation, Character Change, Character Analysis, Plot, Mood, Types of Conflict, Tone, Types of Characters, Compound Sentences and Conjunctions, Punctuating Dialogue, Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases, Ordering Adjectives, Relative Adverbs, Relative Pronouns, Formal and Informal Language, Progressive Tense Verbs, Modal Auxiliaries, Subjects and Predicates, Homophones, Capitalization, Similes and Metaphors, Context Clues, Proverbs and Adages, Prefixes, Suffixes, Idioms, Synonyms and Antonyms, Poetry, Point of View, Allusions, Comparing Themes Across Cultures, Author’s Purpose, Perspective, Drama
Character Traits, Making Inferences, Theme, Character Motivation, Character Change, Character Analysis, Plot, Mood, Types of Conflict, Tone, Types of Characters, Compound Sentences and Conjunctions, Punctuating Dialogue, Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases, Expand, Combine and Reduce Sentences, Interjections, Perfect Tense Verbs, Verb Tenses, Verb Shifts, Correlative Conjunctions, Commas, Punctuation in a Series, Capitalization, Similes and Metaphors, Context Clues, Proverbs and Adages, Prefixes, Suffixes, Idioms, Synonyms and Antonyms, Homographs, Poetry, Point of View, Author’s Purpose, Perspective, Drama
Want to Try a Brochure for FREE?
We have one just for you! Click HERE or the image below!
Raise your hand if you think that reading is important! Of course it is!
Is there anything more important than teaching your students how to read? We can’t think of anything!
Let us tell you a little story about something that Deserae recently experienced (although both of us have experienced it… many times). One of the parents in Deserae’s class stated that she “misdiagnosed” her son’s reading abilities. She disagreed that one of her son’s goals should be a reading goal. She stated that her son read beautifully (which he did) and that he did not need help reading.
Deserae explained that her son did not need help with the ability to read, but with his understanding of what he is reading. Deserae handed the parent a list of basic comprehension questions and told the mom to go home and have her son read to her, and then to ask him some of the questions on the list. The mom later stated that she had an eye-opening moment when her son had no idea what he was reading and was unable to answer the questions. She thanked Deserae for helping her son.
As teachers, we know that this happens way too often. There are many kids who read beautifully, but when it comes to comprehension, they are clueless. These students often slip through the cracks and go undetected because they “read beautifully.” So, what do we do for these students? We are so glad you asked! We have the answer!
The Answer is READING STRATEGIES!
Reading Strategies are what makes the difference between a REAL READER and a fraud. All teachers know about reading strategies, but surprisingly, not all teachers teach them. Reading Strategies sound like a huge task (which they are) that we, as teachers, simply don’t have time for in our day. Sound familiar? Keep reading!
Who Needs Reading Strategies?
ALL READERS NEED READING STRATEGIES! Every student at every level of reading needs to be taught reading strategies. Every students needs to add to their reading toolbox and develop and perfect their use of these strategies. All students can become better readers!
Why Do Students Need Reading Strategies?
Readers need reading strategies in order to comprehend the text that they are reading. Students need to understand that they need to be thinking when they are reading. Being an active reader is the key to being a real reader. Reading strategies also lead to the enjoyment of a text, which only encourages a child to want to read more and therefore, become an even better reader.
How Do I Teach Reading Strategies?
Reading strategies should be taught explicitly. The strategy should be modeled by the teacher and then practiced by the student. Take the time to draw attention to the strategies as you/ they are reading! Let them discuss the strategy with a friend and talk about how the strategy helped their understanding of the text!
Want Specifics? Check out our next blog post on Reading Strategies Coming Soon!
And Now For The Most Important Question… How Do I Fit Teaching Reading Strategies Into My Busy Day?
Let us tell you how we fit teaching reading strategies in our classroom. During the first few weeks of school, we focus on reading strategies. We choose a reading strategy to spotlight, and we live, eat and breath it for a few days (depending on the students’ understanding and needs) during our class read aloud. That’s it! That’s the secret! During our Read Aloud! Your class read aloud is something that you are already doing! Teaching the reading strategy will probably add 5-10 min to your read aloud (pssst… it will also make your read aloud come to life!)
Reading Strategies Planning Page FREEBIE ALERT!
Once you have explicitly taught all of the Reading Strategies, you are ready to spiral them throughout the year! Use this FREEBIE to make it easy! This will work with a picture book or a chapter book. Look at your class read aloud and make a plan to stop and model, practice and review all of the reading strategies! Once you plan for the book, save it and use it again year after year! Click the image above or Here to grab this FREEBIE! This freebie is available if you are a subscriber to our newsletter in our growing “Resource Treasury!”
Interested in the specifics of how we teach each strategy and what we use?
Stay tuned for our next blog post!
Already teach reading strategies and ready to take it to the next level????? Have you heard of Reading Strategy Groups?? Check out this blog post! Reading Strategy Groups Blog Post!
Looking for Reading Strategy Resources?
Click the images or HERE to grab some Reading Strategy Resources!
Anyone interested in some
Back to School Freebies?
Back to School can be such a stressful time,
so we are hear to help you out!
Check out the Back to School Freebies below!
Freebie #1: All About the Teacher Scavenger Hunt
We all have some common goals in the first few days of school… having our students get to know us and teaching our students about their new classroom. Why not check off both of these goals with one activity! This is a 40 page Back to School FREEBIE that can be used with parents at Back to School Night, the day before school starts or on the first day of school! Your new students will get to know you and their new classroom while going on a Scavenger Hunt! Click the image below to grab it!
Freebie #2: Classroom Numbers
Are you ready to label “All the Things?” Back to School time is all about organizing. The possibilities for this Back to School FREEBIE are endless! Label pencil boxes, book bins, desks, books, etc… while adding those pops of color around your classroom! Beautiful and functional… there’s a freebie you can’t live without! Click the image below to grab it!
Freebie #3: Birthday Bulletin Board Display and FREE Birthday Gift Idea
Are you ready to buy a birthday gift for every student every single year? Heck no! We aren’t either! We would be broke! Use this Back to School FREEBIE to give your students a free gift while still recognizing them on their special day. Have the class sing them “Happy Birthday,” have them come up to the front of the room to be recognized, and gift them with a Homework Pass that they can use when their parents take them out that night! Click the image below to grab it!
Freebie #4: Flexible Seating First Choice Seating Poster
Do you use Flexible Seating in your classroom? Have your students ever said, “Hey, that’s not fair! I wanted that seat!” We have the solution for you!!!! We have been a Flexible Seating classroom for many years now, and we can honestly say that we have never heard, “That’s not fair!” (when it comes to seating, that is). We put a student in charge of this job. Every day, the “host” moves down the arrow to the next batch of numbers and calls the groups out in order. It’s as simple as that! If you want to see it for yourself, we have a video with our class entering! The video is in a blog post titled, “Be a Boss at Flexible Seating.” Check it out by clicking HERE! Click the image below to grab this Back to School FREEBIE!
Freebie #5: Teacher Poster
This “Back to School Freebie” is not just for Back to School. This teacher poster is a great reminder all year long. Print it out at the beginning of the year and place it somewhere that you will constantly see. Another idea is to print it out and put it in the teacher workroom or staff lounge! This reminder is what makes all the difference in the world to your students throughout the year! Click the image below to grab this freebie!
Click the Image Above or HERE to check out more engaging resources!
Did you download one of our Back to School Freebies?
We would love to hear which one you are looking forward to using the most!
Also, we would love to see positive feedback on your download!
Going Back to School? It’s one of the most exciting, yet most stressful times of the year for teachers! There is so much to do! Where do you even start? We are here to give you some Back to School advice on what to do LESS of during these hectic first days of school!
Problem: We’ve all been to Target, Michael’s, Walmart (or even a little late night Amazon browsing) and have made impulse purchases on something that was “really cute” or something that you “really needed.” Now, a month later into school, you are realizing that you really didn’t NEED it… you WANTED it. Often, these little items from the “Dollar Spot” turn to clutter and get thrown into a drawer never to be seen again.
Solution: Spend Less! Set a budget! Budgets are different for everyone. We have found that a manageable budget, for us, is $100. We NEVER spend more than $100 when going Back to School. Our budget really makes us prioritize our laundry list of supplies into what we NEED and what we WANT. Sit down and make this list and make it a goal to SPEND LESS this year!
Problem: Our plates are FULL! No, wait, our plates are OVERFLOWING with tasks to complete when going Back to School. You could spend weeks setting up your classroom and organizing. There is no way to ever be “done.”
Solution: Work Less. Sounds impossible, right? Here’s our advice. Ask for help! Make a list of everything that you have to get done to feel prepared for the first day of school. Now, sort out these tasks into two columns. Label one column “Things I Have to Do” and ” Things Others Can Do for Me.” Some examples of “Things I Have to Do” are: lesson planning, seating arrangements, organizing copies/ handouts for Back to School. Some examples of “Things Others Can Do for Me” are: passing out books, running copies, or cleaning. Now… who can help you? Family? Friends? Former Students? We guarantee there is someone ready to help you… just pay them in chocolate… or Starbucks! If you simply cannot find anyone to help you, get your “Things I Have to Do” list done and let the other side go. Plan it for another day. You are the only one who will really know that the bookshelf needs to be dusted!
Problem: You planned so many amazing, wonderful, fun activities for the first day of school that you rushed your students through them and tried to get it all done, but still had some activities left at the end of the day. You’re exhausted and so are your students. They left in chaos and then went home to tell their parents about the crazy day they had. YIKES!
Solution: Plan Less. Prioritize. List everything that you want to do on the first day of school. Look at your time blocks for your day. Plan one activity/ lesson for each time block. Now, make a list of smaller activities that you COULD do if you had some extra time. Remember, your students are coming into your classroom after being on summer break. They work at a slower pace than your students did at the end of last year. They will get less done. It’s better to have a calm environment on day one than a day full of chaos and being rushed. Let your students enjoy the day and leave feeling excited to come back!
Problem: As teachers, we have so many routines to go over and for some reason, we feel like we need to go over all of them on Day 1. We speed through all of our procedures and then on Day 2, none of our students remember a thing because they tuned us out after 10 min (if we’re lucky!). We leave at the end of the day hoarse and exhausted from talking all day.
Solution: Talk Less. Don’t talk just for the sake of talking. Got a long list of procedures to go over? Explain them as they come up and check them off your list. Students will remember them more when they are actually doing the routine rather than listening to how it’s done. Also, provide some downtime for students in your first days of school. Have some time where there is silence, some calming classical music, or time where students are doing the talking. Some examples are Silent Reading, writing, sharing about their summer or art! Find a way to talk less in your first days back to school.
Problem: Going back to school is so crazy that I don’t even remember what I did last year! I guess I have to start from scratch and figure it all out again this year!
Solution: Procrastinate Less. This is going to sound a little crazy, but here it goes anyways. Start planning for next year’s back to school season NOW! Yup! You read that right! As you are doing “all the things,” write them down. Make a list of what worked and things you would like to change. This way, you are not reinventing the wheel every year. File the list in a file labeled, “Back to School.” It’s as simple as that! Now, it’s sitting there waiting for you to be ULTRA prepared for next year’s hectic Back to School season!
Do your students have a love for reading? Reading is the most important component of learning. Do your students cheer when it’s independent reading time? Do they beg for 5 more minutes when you say it’s time to stop? Do they say, “YEESSSSSS!” when it’s read aloud time? Do they applaud when you finish a book? Our students do all of these. We are here to show you how we create this environment in our classrooms and how you can too!
Foster a Love for Reading by Taking Pride in Your Classroom Library
Students need books to read! Yes, you probably have a school library, and you might be thinking, “The school library is good enough. I’m not spending all of my money on books!” Let us explain why this statement is NOT fostering a love for reading. Let’s image a classroom that has an impressive classroom library. There are nice shelves, maybe some seating, organization, and a plethora of books for students to choose from. What message does this send to students? The message is that this teacher values reading and that reading is important!
Now, how do teachers get a ton of books without spending a ton of money? Here’s how we started our libraries: Scholastic Book Clubs, yard sales, thrift stores, and asking our administrators. Our FAVORITE way is… OUR STUDENTS! We ask our students to donate their already read books from home and to donate a book to our library on their birthday! You will be amazed at what they bring in! Make it a big deal! We have a slip that students glue inside the front cover: Donated by: _______ and we let them sign their name. They love this! We have an entire blog post on this! Click HERE to check it out and for an amazing FREEBIE! You will be amazed at how quickly your library will grow over the years!
Foster a Love for Reading by Geeking Out Over Books!
Here’s what we want you to think about: When you bring out your read aloud book for the first time, what do you do? Do you do a picture walk or a prediction? Probably. Most of us do. This is not the most important part. The most important part is your reaction to the book! Pull out the book and hug it! Make your smile so big that students can see the joy it brings to you! Start talking quickly! Kick those facial expressions into overdrive! GEEK OUT! Your passion for reading is contagious!
Foster a Love for Reading by Teaching Genre!
Ahhhh! This is our passion right here! It’s killing me that I have to only write one paragraph about it, but I can definitely see a future blog post in the future on just this strategy! Okay, here goes a shortened version. Teach through genre! IT’S FUN! That’s the key! Reading is FUN! Make reading an event in your classroom. Host the genre’s party! Dress up! Have your students dress up! Is there a snack that would fit your theme? Are there decorations? Get into the theme of your genre and get creative! Get your students excited about READING!
Foster a Love for Reading by Valuing Reading Time
How much time do you give your students to read? How often? A day in the life of a teacher is hectic! There are so many events that can throw off our daily routine. Picture Day, assemblies, field trips, etc… A lot of the time, if time is running out, independent reading is the first thing that teachers eliminate. We need to be careful about this. What message is this sending to our students? Is the message that reading isn’t the most important? (psst… because it is!) Independent Reading SHOULD be the most important part of your students’ day. Throw out all of the other stuff! Show your students that you value reading time by letting them read EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Foster a Love for Reading by Reading With Your Students
Reading with your students is KEY! They need to know that you care about the books they are reading and their comprehension of the text. We all read with our students with our read aloud books, but we also need to be reading with them with their independent reading books. Reading Conferences are a great way to make this happen. We have a blog post all about it! Click HERE! Another way to “read with your students” is reading your own book! Do you have a book that students can see that you are reading yourself? You should! Students need to see that reading doesn’t stop when you become an adult. Take 10 minutes a day and read in front of your students while they are reading! (Added bonus: It’s like a mini vacation for you in the middle of your busy day!)
Classroom libraries are where new friends are made, new places are explored, and where smiles are plentiful. As teachers, we often struggle with how to grow our classroom library without going broke. Books are expensive and getting enough books to satisfy the needs of your students can take time! This blog post will show you how to grow your classroom library 120 books each year without costing you a dime!
Why Have a Classroom Library?
All teachers should aim to have a robust classroom library. Classroom libraries should be diverse in genre, characters, authors, and topics. Teachers want students to have easy access to books in every genre imaginable. Having an impressive classroom library sends the message to students that reading is essential for learning.
Happy Birthday to… Our Classroom Library???????
One idea that we absolutely love is the idea of having students donate a book to the classroom library for their birthday. It sounds like a strange idea, but here’s what we have seen. Our students love doing this. Often, their parents take them to Barnes and Noble, or other book store, and the child gets to pick out any book they want to give to the class on their birthday. They come into the classroom and show it off with pride to their classmates. Their smile shows us that they have definitely learned that giving is one of the best gifts anyone can get. If it’s a picture book, we usually read it right then and there, and if it’s a chapter book, we feature it in our library as a “Top Pick.” Watch how fast it flies off the shelf! All the students thank the child whose birthday it is and we sing Happy Birthday. Smiles are the order of the day and our classroom library just grew a little larger, one book at a time… x32 students in our case!
You’ve Read It? We Haven’t!
The number one way that we have grown our classroom over the year is by asking our students to donate books that they have at home that they have already read. We have them fill out a slip of paper and glue it to the inside cover of the book they donate. We might bribe them with some classroom money too! Whatever works! It’s worth it!
Using this FREEBIE
This FREEBIE will save YOU a ton of money and will grow your classroom library! We pass this flier out at Back-to-School Night to the parents of our students. If each child turns in books for the coupons, you will get a MINIMUM of 4 books per child (often, the stack of donated books is much larger). If you have 32 students, like we do, that’s 128 books each year! In five years, you just gained 640 books!
Educators are constantly on the hunt to find ways to engage their students and foster a love for reading in their classrooms.
Reading Partnerships are the answer!
Reading Partnerships allow students to read with their friends, while they also make new friends between the pages!
What is a Reading Partnership?
A Reading Partnership is when two students, at the same reading level, read the same text together and share about their reading. Reading Partnerships allow students to monitor comprehension and it also holds students accountable for their reading. A bonus for teachers is that Reading Partnerships motivates students to read!
How to Implement Reading Partnerships
Choosing a Reading Partner
The overall goal of reading partnerships is to allow students to enjoy a book together. The most important step of reading partnerships is step number one: the selection of a partner. It is crucial that a student is paired with another student that is at the same reading level. Both students need to be able to access the text and it can be counterproductive if one student is always helping the other. One idea is to guide students during this step. Another idea is to create “cohorts” for students to choose from.
Choosing a Text
The next step is to have the pair of students select a just-right text. The text should be one that is both interesting and at the appropriate reading level. Again, the teacher can either guide during this step or can provide a book bin of texts that are appropriate for each reading level.
Setting a Reading Goal & Reading!
Reading Partners should then agree on an amount of reading that they will do on a daily basis. Students should never read ahead of the other student. They wouldn’t want to ruin it for the other student… can we say, “SPOILER ALERT!” We always recommend that our students should have a “side book” so that if they finish their amount of pages, they still have something else to read. As far as reading goes, the teacher has a few choices here, depending on what works for you and your classroom. Students can either be given time to read the text together in class, or they can read it independently and then come together to share. See the image below with some of the different ideas.
Students should always come together to share about their reading on a daily basis. This step monitors comprehension and adds to the excitement of reading the text. Students want to talk about their reading! The teacher can list questions for the students to answer during this time or the students can generate a list of ideas while they are reading that they want to share with their partner. Either way, the sharing is where the magic of Reading Partnerships happens!
Reading Partnerships… The Rigorous Owl’s Way
We have done Reading Partnership Book Clubs in our classroom for many years and we have made reading partnerships a bit magical and extremely successful by making it friendship themed! We want to share our 8 quick and easy steps to making Reading Partnership Book Clubs work for you. Get Ready to kick back, and watch your students read with excitement and joy!
Step 1: Students take a reading survey that asks them about their reading interests. Then, our students “shop” for a buddy with similar interests. Note: as mentioned before, this is the most important step, so the teacher needs to be involved! Students need to be paired with students that are at, or close to, the same reading level. We will watch our students and offer suggestions during this step to ensure that students are paired with appropriate partners.
Step 2: Partners look through our book basket of paired texts and choose one that is interesting. Students then preview the text and fill out a preview form to make sure that it is the right text for them.
Step 3: Students grab a bookmark where they record their daily reading goals. Students take the number of pages and divide them into the amount of days they have to complete the text. The partners agree that they will each do their part on a daily basis.
Step 4: Our students choose a focus for the day’s reading. This is how we get the standards covered at the same time! Our students choose between setting, theme, making connections, plot, characters, or social media. (The social media is just a fun prompt that is engaging for students, while we check for comprehension.) As the students are reading, they write down everything they can think of on the focus they chose. This also serves as an accountability piece.
Step 5: Students bring their focus cards and share what they wrote. Students can discuss similarities and differences and add to their notes during this time.
Step 6: After their discussion, our students get to choose between a variety of frames that match their focus. Let’s say that the students chose Plot. Each plot frame has a different plot question at the top. The reading partners would choose the frame that best matches their discussion. Students then answer the question and fill in the frame.
Let’s Get This Reading Strategy Group Party Started! Are you excited to learn about Reading Strategy Groups? We truly believe that Reading Strategy Groups are the missing piece in most reading programs! Sometimes, your readers just need that one missing piece to make all the difference in their Reading Comprehension!
Reading Comprehension and Reading Strategy Groups
Have you ever read with a student and they couldn’t tell you what they were reading? Of course you have! We’re teachers! This happens way too often! There are many strategies that good readers use while they are reading. After reading with a student, or having a Reading Conference (Psst… we’ve got a blog post on Reading Conferences! Click HERE if you haven’t checked it out!), maybe you notice that a student is just reading the words and not actually picturing, or visualizing, what the author is really saying. This student would be placed in your Visualizing Reading Strategy Group! Check out the image below to see the Reading Strategies that we focus on in our classrooms.
What Are Reading Strategy Groups?
A Reading Strategy Group is one type of small group instruction, and in our opinion, one of the easiest! Students are placed into a Reading Strategy Group when the teacher has found that they have a common strategy that needs improvement. Reading Strategy Groups should be anywhere from 4-6 students and they last anywhere from 5-10 minutes. The groups can meet 1-3 times a week, depending on the needs of your students. Reading Strategy Groups differ from Guided Reading Groups because each student brings their own book and is reading at their own level. The strategy itself is the focus of the group, not the reading level of the students.
The Teacher’s Role in Reading Strategy Groups
The teacher’s role in Reading Strategy Groups is to bring a group of students together that share a common strategy that needs improvement. Teachers are responsible for identifying the weakness, creating the group and bringing together the materials and students.
We identify weak strategies during Reading Conferences and record the students’ names under each strategy on a recording sheet. Once we have 4-6 students that have been identified, we start the next step. The next step is gathering the materials. We select a text (usually a class read aloud book), copy our strategy booklets that walks us though the strategy, and copy bookmarks that have the strategy’s definition, visuals and thinking stems. Finally, we call students to meet together and the students bring their own text.
Once we are in our Reading Strategy Group, it’s as easy as 1-2-3.
We start by modeling the strategy by using a think aloud. We read part of our passage aloud and model how to use the reading strategy. Next, we have students read part of their text and practice using the same strategy in the way that we modeled. Depending on the size of your group and the amount of time, you can have students take turns and read their text out loud and then model the strategy one at a time, or you can have them read silently and then share. Finally, if students have shown their understanding, they will leave the group and practice independently. If there is a students that still does not show understanding of the strategy, we will ask them to stay and go over it with them one-on-one.
What to do After a Reading Strategy Group
After a Reading Strategy Group is over, we want to provide time for our students to practice the strategy with their independent reading book. Again, we love to provide our students with a bookmark that gives the definition, visuals and thinking stems that they can use as a reminder when reading. At their next conference, we will check in again to see how they are doing with the strategy that we worked on together. If the student has shown mastery, they will no longer need to be in the group. If they are still weak in the strategy, their name can go back on the list and can meet again with a new group of students. Groups should be seen as flexible and can meet throughout the year as needed.