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The Mini-Lesson in the Reading Workshop Model

The first component of the Reading Workshop Model is the Mini-Lesson. Mini-Lessons is where instruction begins! Check out our Mini-Lesson info and get ready to start implementing Mini-Lessons TODAY!

Reader's Workshop Mini-Lesson 101

What is a Mini-Lesson?

The mini-lesson is the direct instruction you provide your students. You introduce a strategy, skill, or behavior, and model using this concept through a read-aloud and think-aloud. Students are asked to share their findings and thoughts. Then students go and practice this concept with their own book during independent reading.

Why Mini-Lesson? 

Mini-lessons provide explicit and effective modeling of reading strategies, skills, or behaviors that help students become more component readers.

Where does a Mini-Lesson Happen?

Mini-lessons happen in the classroom. The whole class sits as a group.

When do Mini-Lessons Happen?

Mini-lessons are introduced at the beginning of workshop time. They should be short and to the point. They should last no longer than 10-15 minutes.

How do Mini-Lessons Happen?

Focus on students’ needs and your standards to drive instruction. As you start to pull small groups, have class discussions, and hold reading conferences, you will notice the needs of your students and plan future groups based on needs.

How to Implement Mini-Lessons Using the Reader's Workshop Model

Simple Steps to Implement Mini-Lessons TODAY!

A teaching model or idea always sounds great, but it is scary to give it a try! What does a lesson really look like? How do I plan for it? What materials will I use? Is there a sample lesson I can “see?” WE HAVE GOT YOU COVERED!

Reader's Workshop Mini-Lesson Editable Freebie!

Mini-Lesson Editable FREEBIE!

In this freebie, we have a sample mini-lesson planning page filled out for you to guide you through planning your own. We have included two types of planning pages. One type is printable for you to write on and the other is editable if you would like to type it. We have also included a Mini-Lesson Tracker that will help you see the mini-lessons that you have taught and it also provides a place for you to write notes and observations!

Want to grab these Editable Mini-Lesson Planning Pages? They are all available in our Growing Freebie Resource Library! If you’re already part of our newsletter, just enter the password. If you would like to become part of our newsletter, you can sign up on the same page!

What Mini-Lesson do I Teach First?

Start simple with teaching your students about CHARACTERS: Types of Characters, Analyzing Characters, Character Motivations, Character Change, etc. Grab our Character, Setting, Events Bundle that includes anchor chart style notes, practice, sentence frames, and writing ideas for each standard. This resource makes implementing mini-lessons a breeze and is the perfect place to start. Teaching Reading Strategies or Reading Skills? We have a bundle for that too!

Standards Based Brochures in the Classroom

Why We Created Standards Based Brochures

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!

Spiral Your Standards Through Reading With Standards Based Brochures!

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.

Standards Based Brochures Connect Reading to Learning

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.

Standards Based Brochures Zoom in on Learning!

Standards Based Brochures are a Opportunity for Application!

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 Standards Based Brochures are a Ready to Use Resource!

What Standards are Covered in the Standards Based Brochure Bundles?

Cover Your Standards Using Standards Based Brochures!

3rd Grade:

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

3rd Grade Standards Based Brochure Bundle

4th Grade:

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 4th Grade Standards Based Brochure Bundle

5th Grade:

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 5th Grade Standards Based Brochure Bundle

Want to Try a Brochure for FREE?

We have one just for you! Click HERE or the image below!

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One 3rd Grade Standards Based Brochure Bundle

One 4th Grade Standards Based Brochure Bundle

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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

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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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!

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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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Book Clubs for the Upper Elementary Classroom

Find out How to Implement Book Clubs Effectively in the Upper Elementary Classroom.

Book Clubs… Every Teacher’s Dream Come True

It’s every teacher’s dream. We all want our students to work well together, to be motivated to work, and to be passionate about reading. We are here to tell you that this is not just a dream. Book Clubs make this dream come true. Book Clubs earn a check mark for each of these things on your list. We are here to help you add some tools to your teacher toolkit in order to become effective at managing Book Clubs in your classroom.

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Your passion and excitement about reading is contagious! Find out one way to spread this to your students!

Getting Started with Book Clubs

First of all, what are Book Clubs? Book Clubs are an opportunity for students to form partnerships in reading. Students read a book together, collaborate to get a job done, and share in the joy of exploring a book together.

So Where does a Teacher Begin?

Before anything else, teachers need to launch their Book Clubs by sharing their excitement and passion for reading with their students. It starts with YOU. If YOU aren’t passionate and excited to read, why should your students be passionate about reading? We love the idea of gathering up the titles that you have available for Book Clubs and SELLING them to your students. That’s right! Get up there and give each title a “commercial,” of course, leaving out the “Spoiler Alerts.”

One word of advice is to be sure you have read the books they are reading! We know… we know… but we promise, your Book Clubs will be more successful if you do! Did we scare you off? Okay, okay, how about this… Let’s say that you have six titles. How about read half this year and the other half next year? Audiobook? Summer Goals? No matter how you decide to get the job done, find a way… any way… make it happen!

How to organize your book clubs and watch your students succeed!

Create student-led Book Clubs with just two easy steps! Find out here!

The power of choice and responsibilities in Book Clubs! Let us help you!


STUDENT-LED. This is the goal, but HOW?


The first way to achieve student-led Book Clubs is by empowering your students with the gift of choice.  Students need to choose the books that they are reading. Get up there and sell each book with a commercial. Let students know how amazing each book is and then let them choose. We love the idea of posting Sign-Up Sheets around the room with the book titles. We have found that four to a group is the perfect number, but you can always do what works best for the amount of titles that you have available. Students walk around and “shop” for their books.

Common Teacher Concerns

Now, many teachers might say, “Well, how do I make sure that students choose a book at their level?” Well, hopefully, they already know how to do this because you have taught them how to choose books that are just right for them. Let them try! Let go of the control. If they don’t make the right decision, guide them. Maybe let them choose between two books that are at their level. A student should never be forced to read a book they don’t want to read.

Another concern that teachers have is, “What if they just pair up with their friends?” So what! Wouldn’t you want to read a book that your friends are reading? Trust us, they won’t have time to misbehave with the schedule you’ve got set up for them. They will be busy. If students are busy and engaged, there’s no time for misbehavior. Oh, and if there is misbehavior, separate them from the group for a day… what’s more punishment than being separated from your friends that are having fun?????

If students choose their book titles and groups, they will be more likely to read, fulfill their roles and lead each other during Book Clubs.

Book Club FREEBIE! Organize your Book Clubs with this FREEBIE!

How to EMPOWER your students during Book Clubs


The second way to encourage Student-Led Book Clubs in your classroom is by giving students responsibilities. They need something to do! They need a common goal that they are all working towards! If students are busy with a job in front of them, they have no choice but to lead each other. Students have no one to blame but themselves if the timer goes off and the work isn’t done!

In Our Classrooms

The common goal in our classrooms is for students to complete their Book Club Booklet and to follow the schedule of tasks in a given amount of time. We highly recommend using a timer.

We always start out by discussing the reading from the previous day. In the students’ Book Club Booklet, they each have a different job to do each day. One might collect vocabulary, while the other might focus on figurative language. The point is, each student has a job that they, individually, need to accomplish. They discuss their findings with each other and share what they produced.

Along with these jobs, students prepare, what we call, “Discussion Seeds,” Discussion Seeds are ideas that popped into their head while reading and are something that they want to discuss with their group. When the time is right in the discussion, they plant their “seed” and watch it “grow” into a conversation. A sample Discussion Seed could be, “What if the antagonist was our teacher?” or “What if we changed the genre from fantasy to realistic fiction, what would have to change?” or as simple as, “What did you think when _____ happened?” Discussion Seeds can be anything! A Discussion Seed’s purpose is to keep the conversation going and to keep a group of students from saying, “We’re done. Now what?”

The next item on our schedule is that we display a menu of questions on the board that students answer. Again, we believe in student choice. Students take turns choosing a question that their group will answer. Each person  has a chance to share their answer verbally in the group. They choose a different question each day, over the course of your Book Clubs.

Students need to be held accountable during Book Clubs. Find out how we do it here!

Why Some Book Clubs Fail

Book Clubs tend to fall apart when students do not read and do not fulfill their role in the group. Sometimes, these students will try to sink into the background and let the others do the work for them. We have all seen this happen. Maybe you were in this group growing up! Know what we mean?

Over the years, we have found the cure to this problematic disease. Our cure is that we have our students come prepared with, what we call, a “Ticket to Discussion.” Our Tickets to Discussion are very basic. They might ask for vocabulary words with page numbers or to write a few sentences about their favorite part. The point is that they had to have read to fill them out. If the ticket is filled out, students get the privilege of participating with the group and if not, they are asked to sit out and complete the reading or work that they did not accomplish. Hopefully, the student learns their lesson and comes prepared the following day. If not, this student may lose the opportunity to be in a group. Peer pressure is a wonderful thing! We have found that we very seldom have this problem because students want to interact with each other and they want to share in the excitement that Book Clubs create.

Students also need to be held accountable for their teamwork in a group. Having your students create norms for group work is critical. They need to know how to share their ideas and involve everyone in decisions and conversations. We post these norms around our room and even on their bookmarks as a constant reminder. Here are some bookmarks with some behaviors that are beneficial for Book Clubs. Enjoy!
FREEBIE to help students remember their role in Book Clubs!

Learn how students can reflect on their work during Book Clubs!

STUDENT Reflection in Book Clubs

The last major component to Book Clubs is SELF-reflection. The reflection needs to come from the students… not from you.  Students need to evaluate their own work along with their group’s teamwork.

We have found that the use of the Fish Bowl strategy helps with self-reflection tremendously. Around day three, we like to have one group sit in the middle, while the rest of the class circles around them and quietly observes. The group in the middle conducts their Book Club meeting as they normally would. The rest of the class watches. Have a class meeting after the group is done and have students list five things they really liked and one way the group could improve. This is where you can offer suggestions to guide the direction you would like your Book Clubs to go. The next day, do the same thing. You will notice the students using your words! Each day, the Book Clubs will get better and better. We like to do multiple rounds of Book Clubs, so you really only have to do this the first round. During the second or third round, you can do it a few times just to check in.

Another way to assist students with self-reflection is by having them write about it daily. Students get the chance to write about things they are proud of, team members that did a great job and also things that they wish to improve. By using this piece, students can lift each other up and work on improving on a daily basis. Enjoy!

Click here for a FREEBIE that helps students with Self-Reflection during Book Clubs!

Learn how to sit back and watch the magic happen during Book Clubs!

The Hardest Part of Book Clubs

Teachers like to be in control. The hardest part of Book Clubs, for a lot of teachers, is sitting back and watching the class take the reins. Your role is a facilitator, not the director.  Hold a class meeting if there is an issue and have the students come up with a solution to the problem. Hold as many meetings as necessary, but try not to jump into a group and lead the discussion. Enjoy popping around from group to group and taking notes and making observations of your little readers! You have worked hard at teaching them what they know, so enjoy watching them use it while reading and collaborating!

Check out this great display of Book Club Booklets!

Benefits of Book Club Booklets

Have Open House or an observation? Display these Booklets on your board! Fun, colorful, and full of student work!!!!

Another benefit to doing Book Clubs is that they make the perfect addition to an Author Study!  We always do these with our favorite author, Roald Dahl. First, we read about Roald Dahl, and then we learn more about him through all of his books! You could make a bulletin board just like the one below!

Find out why Book Clubs make a great addition to an Author Study!

In Closing,

Our hope is that we have added more tools to your teacher toolkit. We love spreading positive teaching ideas that inspire you to inspire your students. We would love to hear from you in the comments below! Ask any questions that you may have or share about Book Clubs in your room! We look forward to hearing from you!

Ready to Start Book Clubs?

What are You Waiting For??????

Everything mentioned in this blog post can be accomplished by purchasing our Book Clubs for Upper Elementary Bundle! You will get ready-to-use materials that will have your students begging for more!

We have done all of the work for you!

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Book Club Booklets! A great activity to add to your classroom to use with ANY book!

We have all the tools you need to run Book Clubs in your room!

Take a look at what our students do in their Book Club Booklets!

EVERYTHING you NEED to run Book Clubs in your classroom!

Find out why YOU and YOUR STUDENTS will LOVE Book Clubs!!!!



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