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Reading Strategies… REAL vs. FAKE Reading

Calling All Reading Teachers!

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.

Reading Strategies Lead to Reading Comprehension

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!

Reading Strategies Create REAL Readers


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!

All Readers Need to be Taught Reading Strategies

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.

Reading Strategies Encourage a Love for Reading

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?

How to fit reading strategies into your 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!

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?

Reading Strategy Resources

Click the images or HERE to grab some Reading Strategy Resources!

Reading Strategy Resources

Back to School FREEBIES to Start Your Year Off Right!

Back to School Freebies

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!

Back to School Freebies

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!

All About My Teacher Classroom Scavenger Hunt Back to School Freebie

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!

Classroom Numbers Back to School Freebie

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!

Birthday Display Back to School Freebie

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!

Flexible Seating First Choice Seating Poster 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!Back to School Freebie Teacher Poster

Back to School Freebies

Back to School Resources from The Rigorous Owl

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!


5 Things to Do LESS of When Going Back to School

5 Tips for Back to School... Why LESS is MORE!

Back to School: Why LESS is MORE!

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!

Spend Less When Going Back to School

Spend Less

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!

FREEBIE ALERT! Grab these Back to School Teacher Planning Pages by Subscribing to our Newsletter!

Work Less When Going Back to School

Work Less

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!

FREEBIE ALERT! Grab these Back to School Teacher Planning Pages by Subscribing to our Newsletter!

Plan Less When Going Back to School

Plan Less

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!

FREEBIE ALERT! Grab these Back to School Teacher Planning Pages by Subscribing to our Newsletter!

Talk Less When Going Back to School

Talk Less

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.

FREEBIE ALERT! Grab these Back to School Teacher Planning Pages by Subscribing to our Newsletter!

Procrastinate Less When Going Back to School

Procrastinate Less

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!

FREEBIE ALERT! Grab these Back to School Teacher Planning Pages by Subscribing to our Newsletter!

FREEBIE ALERT! Grab these Back to School Teacher Planning Pages by Subscribing to our Newsletter!

Click the image above to grab this freebie!

Going Back to School?

You NEED to Check Out the Blog Post Below!

We’ve Got a FREEBIE That Will Grow Your Classroom Library Without Costing You a Penny!

Click Here!


Looking to Make Back to School Even Easier? We’ve Got Just What You Need!

Ready to Use Back to School Resources!

Click the Image Above

to Grab These Ready to Use Resources!

We would love to hear from you!

We’d love to hear any advice that you have for the beginning of the year!

What works? What doesn’t?


How to Encourage a Love for Reading


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!

Do YOU Encourage a Love for Reading in Your Classroom? Find Out 10 Ways to Get Your Students to Say, "I Love Reading!" HERE!

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!

Do YOU Encourage a Love for Reading in Your Classroom? Find Out 10 Ways to Get Your Students to Say, "I Love Reading!" HERE!

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!

Do YOU Encourage a Love for Reading in Your Classroom? Find Out 10 Ways to Get Your Students to Say, "I Love Reading!" HERE!

Do YOU Encourage a Love for Reading in Your Classroom? Find Out 10 Ways to Get Your Students to Say, "I Love Reading!" HERE!

Do YOU Encourage a Love for Reading in Your Classroom? Find Out 10 Ways to Get Your Students to Say, "I Love Reading!" HERE!

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!

Do YOU Encourage a Love for Reading in Your Classroom? Find Out 10 Ways to Get Your Students to Say, "I Love Reading!" HERE!

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.

Do YOU Encourage a Love for Reading in Your Classroom? Find Out 10 Ways to Get Your Students to Say, "I Love Reading!" HERE!

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!)

Do YOU Encourage a Love for Reading in Your Classroom? Find Out 10 Ways to Get Your Students to Say, "I Love Reading!" HERE!

5 Resources to Encourage a Love of Reading in YOUR Classroom! CLICK HERE!

Click the image above to check out our TOP PICK for Encouraging a Love for Reading!

Do YOU Encourage a Love for Reading in Your Classroom? Find Out 10 Ways to Get Your Students to Say, "I Love Reading!" HERE!

Do YOU Encourage a Love for Reading in Your Classroom? Find Out 10 Ways to Get Your Students to Say, "I Love Reading!" HERE!

Now that we have shared our Top 5 Ways to Encourage a Love for Reading, we would LOVE to hear from YOU!

Comment Below on How YOU Encourage a Love for Reading in YOUR Classroom!

We can’t wait to see what you have to say!


How to Grow Your Classroom Library for FREE!

We've got a FREEBIE for you that will help you grow your classroom library without costing you a dime!

Classroom Libraries are the Heart of a Classroom

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!

Taking the time to grow your classroom library is the greatest gift you can give to your students! 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.

Become a librarian with this FREEBIE!

Growing your classroom library has never been so easy!

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!

Growing your classroom library has never been so easy!

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!

Growing your classroom library has never been so easy! GRAB THIS FREEBIE NOW!



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!


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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to Grab this Ready-to-Use Resource NOW?Click HERE or the Image Below!

Reading Partnerships Ready-to-Use Resource!

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!”

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Reading Strategy Groups No Prep Ready to Use Materials

Ready to Use Strategy Group Materials





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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?
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Teachers Who Love Reading Would Also Love These Blog Posts…

The Reading Challenge that will Create Lifelong Readers

Small Group Instruction Using Picture Books!

Interactive Notebooks: A Love-Hate Relationship

Book Clubs for the Upper Elementary Classroom

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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!

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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!

Interactive Notebook Secrets That Make YOUR Life Easier!

Interactive Notebook Secrets GUARANTEED to Make YOUR Life Easier!

PSSST… Wanna Know a Secret?

Interactive Notebooks Can Be Time Consuming for the Teacher!

Not really a secret? You’re right! We know Interactive Notebooks can be time consuming and you do too, but we are here to share three interactive notebook secrets that we have discovered over the years that are guaranteed to make YOUR life easier!

Hello and Welcome to our third blog post in our Interactive Notebook Series! ‘

If you missed the first two posts, we went over How to Start Interactive Notebooks and How to Effectively and Efficiently Grade Interactive Notebooks. You can check them out below! (You’ll grab some freebies too!)

Click Here for Post #1

Click Here for Post #2

Now that you’re caught up, check out these Interactive Notebook Secrets GUARANTEED to Make YOUR Life Easier!

How to use Parent Communication with Interactive Notebooks

Interactive Notebook Secret #1: Getting Parents Involved Will Make YOUR Life Easier

If you’ve ever looked at or graded an Interactive Notebook, you know that there are two types of students. You have the organized, neat and thorough student, and then you have the HOT MESS student. The HOT MESS student has incomplete assignments, organization issues, pages falling out of their notebooks and sloppy work. Teachers do what they can in the classroom, but there is only so much time in our day, right?!

When we first started Interactive Notebooks in our classrooms, we never thought to involve parents. We thought that it would be too much work for them and that they wouldn’t truly know what the assignments were. After dealing with these HOT MESS students for a few years in a row, we decided it was time to get parents involved.

How to use Parent Communication with Interactive Notebooks

In order to get parents involved, we decided to start off with a parent letter explaining what Interactive Notebooks were and how they could help their child. We also created notices that stated when their child’s notebook would be graded. We followed these notices up with reminders when their due dates were approaching. The result was that more students were prepared to turn in their Interactive Notebooks on their due dates and they were also more likely to have their assignments completed. ( This is also because of the checklists that we use, as we stated in Post #2 ) We have found that parents want to help… they just don’t know how to most of the time.

How to use Parent Communication with Interactive Notebooks

How to Create a System for Interactive Notebooks

Interactive Notebook Secret #2: Implementing a System to Grade Interactive Notebooks Will Make YOUR Life Easier

As with everything in life, having a regular routine and system in place makes everything that much easier. Here are some of the routines that we have put into place with Interactive Notebooks. Our students know that before they turn in their Interactive Notebook, they have to get a peer to check their work! Peer checks create motivation to get their work done! Another system that we have in place is that after Interactive Notebooks are checked, students reflect on their work and examine what they did well and what they would like to improve before the next Interactive Notebook due date.

How to Create a System for Interactive Notebooks

One Interactive Notebook Secret that we simply could not live without is having a Interactive Notebook Collector! Since we grade Interactive Notebooks on a daily basis, there were COUNTLESS days where we forgot to collect the notebooks that we needed to grade. Forgetting this, even one day, caused us to fall behind on our grading. Students love helping! Let them!

How to Create a System for Interactive Notebooks

Learn how to give students recognition with Interactive Notebooks!

Interactive Notebook Secret #3: Recognizing Students Will Make YOUR Life Easier

We saved the best Interactive Notebook Secret for last. Student Recognition is the most powerful tool that you have to make your life easier when using Interactive Notebooks!

Learn how to give students recognition with Interactive Notebooks!

The first way that we use this Interactive Notebook secret is that we created these colorful stickers to place throughout a student’s Interactive Notebook while we are grading. We love watching them flip through their notebooks when they get them back to find the stickers!

Learn how to give students recognition with Interactive Notebooks!

Another way that we use this Interactive Notebook secret is that we will sometimes reward them with an Interactive Notebook Incentive Coupon! These are no cost rewards that students can use at any time. THEY LOVE GETTING THESE!!!!!

Learn how to give students recognition with Interactive Notebooks!

The last way that we use this Interactive Notebook secret is that we have an Interactive Notebook Hall of Fame posted in our classroom. When we notice that a student has consistently done a thorough job in their notebooks, their name, or number, gets posted on a Hall of Fame star. They are also awarded a “Ask Me! I’m an Interactive Notebook EXPERT!” badge. They become the Interactive Notebook experts and help students who may have questions (which also makes your job easier!)


We hope these Interactive Notebook Secrets will help to make your life a little easier. We applaud you for using Interactive Notebooks in your classroom… and your students do too!


Interested in grabbing this life-saving

Interactive Notebook Management System?

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