Monthly Archives

March 2018

Reading Partnerships in Upper Elementary

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!

Reading Partnerships bring friends together and make new friends between the pages!

Find out what Reading Partnerships are HERE!

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

How to effectively implement Reading Partnerships in YOUR classroom!

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.

Reading BFFs! An easy way to track reading partners!

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.

Find out all about Reading Partnerships in the upper elementary classroom!

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.

Find out all about the different ways to read during Reading Partnerships HERE!

Sharing

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 bring friends and books together! What could be better?

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!

How to implement Reading Partnerships in 8 easy steps!

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.

How to set reading goals in Reading Partnerships

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.Determining a focus and sharing during Reading Partnerships

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.

Cover your standards while using Reading Partnerships!

Step 7: We love to have everything themed in our rooms and always look for more ways to engage our students. We love the idea of having Reading Partnerships friendship themed! Students are reading books with their friends and making new friends between the pages! Why not make friendship bracelets?! We thought it would be a good idea to color code each focus. As students complete the frame for the focus, the students earn a bead for their friendship bracelet that matches the focus’ color. Let’s say the students chose setting. Setting is yellow. As the students collected information about setting and shared with each other, they would fill out a frame for setting. When that was done, they would both earn a yellow bead for their bracelets. The friendship bracelets are easy for the teacher and motivating for students. They can’t wait to add to their bracelets! Win-Win!Provide motivation during Reading Partnerships!

Step 8: We love having a cumulative project that our students can walk away with in the end. For Reading Partnerships, our students add each fame to a lapbook that documents their book and allows them to take pride and ownership in the book that they read together. We love to display the students’ lapbooks at Open House and other parent nights.

Foster a Reading Community with Reading Partnerships!

Reading Partnerships… Another Way to Foster a Reading Community

The goal of every educator should be to foster a reading community and grow their students into lifelong readers. To us, Reading Partnerships is the perfect activity to engage students as a reader. We all know that reading is the number one way to improve students’ abilities in all other academic areas. We should go out of our way to search for meaningful activities and to find the perfect books to place into our students’ hands. There is no better way to spend your time as a teacher!

Provide the Type of Reading Classroom You Needed as a Child

In finishing this post, we must stand on our soapbox for a moment. Please bear with us. It really is very simple. Reading is meant for enjoyment. Some educators find it necessary to require reports or assignments for every book that a child reads in order to prove that they actually read the book. Our thought is… Isn’t there a better way to find this out? What about Reading Conferences and conferring with your students? What about just talking to them about their reading? How about masking an assignment  into a a fun and engaging activity that doesn’t kill the joy of reading? Stop punishing kids for reading. Make it fun. Make it engaging. Turn your students on to reading in a way that only you can! Show your passion and you will see that your passion for reading is contagious!

Allow students to share in the joy of reading together using Reading Partnerships!

Reading Partnership SUCCESS!

 

Reading Partnership Activity Bundle GIVEAWAY!

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Do You Love Teaching Reading As Much As We Do?

You will LOVE….

Reading Conferences Made Easy with a TWIST!

All about Reading Strategy Groups… The Missing Piece!

Reading Standards Brochure Resource!

Engaging Reading Challenge!

Book Clubs for the Upper Elementary Classroom

Create Lifelong Readers HERE!!!!!!

Reading Strategy Groups… The Missing Piece!

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!

Give Your Students the Missing Piece for Reading Comprehension with Strategy Groups!

What to do when students lack in 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.

Skills of a reader taught through Strategy Groups!

 

Learn all about Reading Strategy Groups HERE!

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.

Strategy Groups EXPLAINED!

 

The Teacher's Role in Reading Strategy Groups

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.

Reading Strategy Groups Materials

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.

3 Steps to Reading Strategy Groups

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.

Find out what to do AFTER Reading Strategy Groups!

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.

Real Reading from Strategy Groups!

The Reward of Reading Strategy Groups

Not all teachers do Reading Strategy Groups in their classrooms. The reward for doing them is that you will truly see your students grow as readers. Reading Strategy Groups are quick and easy and do not require a lot of work on the teacher’s part. Pick your strategy, run copies, gather your students, model, guide and watch your readers blossom! The real reward is seeing your students smile when you say, “Get out your books! It’s time for reading!”

Want Reading Strategy Groups to be even easier?

Grab our Reading Strategy Group Bundle by clicking HERE or on the image below!

Reading Strategy Groups No Prep Ready to Use Materials

Ready to Use Strategy Group Materials

 

 

 

 

Reading Strategy Groups GIVEAWAY!

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If You are a Reading Teacher, Be Sure to Check Out:

Reading Conferences

Small Group Instruction Using Picture Books!

Interactive Notebooks… A Love-Hate Relationship

The Reading Challenge that will Create Life-Long Readers

Reading Conferences Made Easy with a TWIST!

We are so happy that you found our blog on Reading Conferences!

We love it when amazing educators, like you, find us! Before we begin we want to tell you that YOU ARE AMAZING! How do we know? We know you’re amazing because not all educators are out there scouring the web to find new ways to reach their students.

Not all educators see the value in Reading Conferences, but YOU do!

Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here!

We can’t wait to share with you the #1 way to grow a Reading Community!

Reading Conferences are the Number ONE Way to Grow a Reading Community! Find out HOW HERE!

What are Reading Conferences? Find out HERE!

What are Independent Reading Conferences?

You may have heard of Reading Conferences before, but maybe you’re not clear on what they actually are. Reading Conferences are simply a time that a teacher and student can come together and connect over a book. Reading Conferences last anywhere from 5-10 minutes. During this time, students share their thoughts and ideas about their independent reading. While students are independently reading, teachers plop down next to a student where they are, listen to them read a page and then have a conversation about the text they are reading. Teachers should listen to a page read aloud to check for fluency and to guarantee that the book is at an appropriate reading level for the student. The conversation afterwards ensures comprehension and also lets students know that the teacher values both them as a reader and reading itself.

What are the Types of Reading Conferences? Find out HERE!

The Types of Reading Conferences

Formal Reading Conferences

There are two types of Reading Conferences that we use in our classrooms… Formal and Informal. Formal conferences happen on a set date. Both the teacher and student know about this date and come prepared. Students come prepared with the materials required, such as their book, conference forms, or assignments, and the teacher comes prepared with their formal notes.

Informal Reading Conferences

Informal conferences are a spur of the moment meeting where the teachers plops down next to a student and starts a conversation about the book the student is reading. The observations during this type of conference can be written down if the teachers learns about anything profound, or these observations can just go into the teacher’s mental bank for the child.

How Often Should Reading Conferences Occur?

The goal of Reading Conferences is to meet with each student on a weekly basis, either formally or informally. We find this very manageable in a class size of 20 students. We, however, have 32 students. Meeting with every student on a weekly basis sounds a little overwhelming, right? Here’s what we do. In our classrooms, we plan to formally confer with each student once every two weeks. That means that, on average, we meet with 3-4 students each day. Since conferences are 5-10 minutes, we spend no more than 30 minutes conferring with our students. This is the perfect amount of time for their Independent Reading time! When we finish early, we pop around and do a few informal conferences when we can. We guarantee that our students will have a Reading Conference once every other week, and they will usually have an informal conference too. Therefore, for every two weeks, each student is getting one formal and one informal Reading Conference.  To us, this is very manageable and, trust us… YOU WILL SEE THE EFFECT IT WILL HAVE IN YOUR CLASSROOM!

Reading Conferences with a TWIST!

Reading Conferences with a TWIST!

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for… THE TWIST! Here is how our Reading Conferences are different from all the other Reading Conferences you have seen out there. Our Formal Reading Conferences are STUDENT LED! Student Led Formal Reading Conferences make all the difference! Let your students choose the standard they want to discuss with you! In our classrooms, we have Standards Based Reading Conference forms that each child fills out before their formal conference. Students have a choice between 22 versions. Just so you have an idea, some examples of these are plot, point of view, genre, and theme. When we sit down with a student, we allow students to take the reigns and lead the conference. Our students already have the talking points on their formal Reading Conference form. We sit back and listen to them be the expert on the standard they chose. While we are listening, we take notes on the student as a reader. If you need to keep the conference going, we have a set of question cards that have a list of questions for each standard. We simply turn to the card, pick a question and keep the conference going. If you notice, there was a whole lot of teacher listening and student talking. Teachers need to be an active listener. Be their “equal” during a Reading Conference. Hold back from talking at them and just listen to the reader. You will learn a lot more this way!

Reading Conferences are for EVERY Teacher, Yes, EVEN YOU! Avoid the Top Teacher Excuses for Not Conferring!

Top Teacher Excuses for NOT Conferring About Reading

  1. Reading Conferences are too much work.
  2. I don’t have time in my day for Reading Conferences
  3. I don’t know what to do during a Reading Conference

Did you agree with any of these Top Teacher Excuses? After reading this blog post, we hope that we have helped you with these “excuses.” Here is our advise to you. Reading Conferences sound like a scary topic, but to us, the only thing that is scary is a teacher who does not conduct Reading Conferences. Here is our plea to teachers. Try it. Try Reading Conferences. Start small and watch how good you get! Meet with a student about their Independent Reading. You will discover that you have never known your students better, both personally and as a reader. You will implement an individualized learning plan without even realizing it. Your students will see how much you care about them, along with reading. Your students will be pushed to the next level as a reader.

You will create a Reading Community that loves reading!

 

Let The Rigorous Owl Help!

Find out about the Benefits of Reading Conferences HERE!

Reading Conferences are the HEARTBEAT of a Reading Classroom! Find out more HERE!

Want to do Reading Conferences

The Rigorous Owl’s Way?
Reading Conferences in 6 Easy Steps

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The Reading Challenge that will Create Lifelong Readers

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Interactive Notebooks: A Love-Hate Relationship

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Small Group Instruction Using Picture Books!

Welcome to our blog post on how to make small group instruction less stressful for you, more engaging for your students and more meaningful throughout the year! Let’s get started!

No Small Group Instruction Stress Here!

Small Group Instruction Stress

We’ve all been there. We know we should be pulling small focus groups for students that are struggling to meet the standards on a daily basis.  It sounds so easy, but scrounging around and stressing about what to do with your students during small group instruction can deter a teacher from even pulling these important focus groups. Have we caught your attention? Does this sound familiar? This past year, we decided to do something about it to make our small group instruction less stressful! We can’t wait to share our solution with you!

Find out about the perfect resource for small group instruction here!

Standards Based Brochures for Small Group Instruction

Our solution to the stress associated with small group instruction was to create a standards based brochure (or tri-fold) for our standards. Our entire year of small group instruction would be done in one easy step! Standards based brochures are a ready-to-use resource that we can simply grab and use! They are seriously as simple as that. We copy the brochures and have them ready to use in our small group instruction. Students bring a book and we are ready for small group instruction success!

Choose your standard and teach! It's that simple!

Materials for Small Group Instruction

The materials required for our small group instruction consist of brochures relating to the standard, pencils and picture books! Here’s why we love using picture books. Picture books hardly get any recognition in the upper grade classroom. We want our students reading chapter books, chapter books and more chapter books. But what about picture books? Picture books are an amazing way to get an entire story in a short amount of time! You can quickly touch on author’s craft, parts of the plot, and then focus in on your targeted standard. The most important reason that we love to read picture books during small group instruction is that they are engaging!

Standards based brochures are perfect for picture books!

Standards Based Brochures Will Save Your Sanity

Small group instruction is not the only way to use our standards based brochures… it just happens to be our favorite! Standards based brochures have other uses inside of the classroom. Have you ever had a hand go up and a student say, “Teacher, I’m done. Now what?” BWAHAHAHAHA… of course you have! You’re a teacher! Well, this question can have a teacher losing their mind on a daily basis and multiple times a day! Standards based brochures have been a life-saver in our classrooms and we know they will be a life-saver in your classroom too!

The answer to, "Teacher, I'm Done! Now What?"

Students love standards based brochures because it allows them to have choice in the standard that they want to focus on. As we teach a standard, we add the choice to our display in the back of our room. Students know that they can choose anything in the display. They choose a brochure, grab a book and get to work! Students are able to practice the standard five times with five different books!

A Ready-to-Use Resource Perfect for Early Finishers

An Added Bonus

Don’t you just love the parents that ask, “How can I help my child master the standards you are teaching in the classroom at home?” We love parents that want to get involved and help their child, but we don’t always have an easy answer for them. Standards based brochures have been our saving grace! We hand these amazing and wonderful parents our brochure and they are sent off to practice exactly what we are doing in the classroom at home with their child! These are great for Parent-Teacher Conferences! We also love to send home brochures attached to progress reports or tests that were not proficient. Your parents will think you’ve got it all figured out!

School to Home Connection SUCCESS!

The Many Possibilities of Standards Based Brochures

Standards based brochures are the perfect solution to many problems that teachers have in the classroom. Small group instruction, centers, early finishers, intervention, and school-to-home connections can leave teachers feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. We have found that having these brochures have solved many problems.

A Resource Perfect for Centers, Enrichment, Small Groups or Intervention

The main reason why we love these brochures is that our students love them.

They are perfect for practicing and reviewing standards all year long and they keep our students engaged!

What more could a teacher ask for?

An engaging way to practice your standards all year long!

Interested in Grabbing this for Yourself?

Click the image below!

Standards Based Brochures

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Looking for other ways to lessen the stress in your classroom?

Secrets to Interactive Notebooks Revealed!

Book Clubs in the Upper Elementary Classroom

Engaging Reading Challenge!