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March 1, 2016

Revamp Your Reading Routines

By Amanda Nehring
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    March starts off with a bang. Right at the beginning we have Read Across America Day, a celebration of reading inspired by Dr. Seuss’ birthday. In honor of this literary holiday, let’s look at some ideas for reimagining your reading routines and renewing your students’ love of reading in the classroom.

     

    Record Students Reading

    The ability to self-monitor one’s own reading is an important skill taught in the early elementary grades. One great way to teach self-monitoring is by having students record themselves reading. I created a Donor’s Choose project a few years ago to get four digital audio recorders for my classroom. Thanks to generous donations I got my recorders in no time! Now my students can read into the handheld recorders and play back their own voices. To help students listen for characteristics of a good read-aloud, I provide each child with a Self-Monitoring Checklist (in English or in Spanish). For an extra treat, I even attach the recorders to a stuffed animal to double the fun!

     

    Read With a Stuffed Animal

    Much like fellow blogger Alycia Zimmerman shared in her post "Stuffed Animals as Reading and Writing Buddies," your students will find it both enjoyable and highly motivating to read with a furry friend. Choose a special independent reading time for students to read with a stuffed animal of their choice. You can plan ahead and have students bring their favorite plush toy from home or you can use stuffed animals you have in your classroom. I love purchasing the storybook plush toys from Kohl’s Cares because they go perfectly with some of my favorite children’s books and the purchase supports a great cause.

     

    Comprehension Practice

    Fluency and accuracy are important parts of reading for young students, but they are meaningless without comprehension. Take some time away from reading drills to make sure that your students understand what they read. One great resource I’ve found to check for student understanding is Mary Rose’s book Week-by-Week Homework: Reading Comprehension. I have a copy of the first grade texts, but there are versions all the way up to sixth grade. Each of the 30 reproducible texts begins with an informational section for teachers, complete with the Common Core State Standards met by the story and questions. The rest of the book includes a note to parents, 30 single-page stories with illustrations, and a set of targeted, standards-based comprehension questions to accompany each story. Yes, these make fabulous homework activities, but I also think they’re perfect for practicing comprehension in your classroom. You can copy the stories for students to read during guided reading or centers, having each child answer the comprehension questions when they finish reading. These worksheets lend themselves to partner work as well, so they would fit almost anywhere in your reading routine.

     

    Reading Picnic Reading picnic

    When the weather is nice enough, I like to take my class outside for a reading picnic. I ask students to bring beach towels and sunglasses from home and we head out for some fresh air. Students love getting to lie on their towels, put on their favorite shades, and read in the sun. You’d be surprised how long students will read independently when they are enjoying the outdoors.

     

    Reading the Pictures

    Beginning readers are often overwhelmed by the idea of independent reading because they are unable to read all of the words themselves. As teachers, we can work to instill a love of reading in our students right from the start by teaching them to read the pictures, not just the words. Each year as I introduce literacy centers to my new students I teach a lesson on the many ways to read a book. Yes, you can read the words written in a story, but you can also read the pictures. Using visual context clues, students can allow their imaginations to take flight as they invent their own words for a picture book. I really love using Flotsam, Lion and the Mouse, and The Umbrella as inspiration for students’ own stories.

     

    Reading stamina pajama partyReading Stamina Pajama Party

    If students are to be successful independent readers they need to build stamina for sustained reading. In my class we practice building stamina by first reading silently for only a couple of minutes at a time. As the students become more and more comfortable sitting and reading by themselves, we extend the time. Once my whole class can read independently for 20 minutes we have a reading stamina pajama party. Students wear their PJs to school, bring a favorite stuffed animal and a blanket, and we read all over the room. Students tell me time and time again that these reading parties are favorite school memories. As a teacher, there is nothing better than watching students smiling and giggling with excitement over the chance to read!

     

    Close Reading

    Close reading is a strategy where students read a short passage multiple times with the intent of looking for specific information within the text. While this skill is useful in the upper grades for analyzing literature or taking notes from a textbook, the process of close reading can be very beneficial for younger children as well. Scholastic has a great collection of resources for close reading with students of all ages. I personally like using their Literary Passages: Close Reading books. The book begins with an introduction to close reading for teachers and then provides comprehension skill sheets, short text passages, and comprehension worksheets. It is important to note that these books only include fictional stories, so nonfiction close reading should be done using Scholastic News articles or other nonfiction texts. To help my students get the most out of the practice of close reading I provide them with a Close Reading Symbols page (in English or in Spanish) that shows the markings they can use to annotate their text.

     

    Scholastic Listen and Read: Read-Along Books

    If you are looking for a new addition to your electronic reading library for students I would highly recommend Scholastic’s Listen and Read: Read-Along Books. These free online storybooks include nonfiction text collections on the topics of community workers, animals, and the president. The stories are written at the early elementary level and have the option for students to either read the text themselves or listen to the story aloud. At the end of each book is a “What Did You Learn” quiz that asks students to answer a few multiple choice comprehension questions. Between the real-world photographs and motivating topics, I have found that students beg to get to read any of these 15 storybooks on the computer or our iPads.

     

    I hope you can use some of these ideas to bring new life into your reading classroom this spring. If you have any other great reading suggestions to share, please leave a comment below. As always, thanks for stopping by!

     

    March starts off with a bang. Right at the beginning we have Read Across America Day, a celebration of reading inspired by Dr. Seuss’ birthday. In honor of this literary holiday, let’s look at some ideas for reimagining your reading routines and renewing your students’ love of reading in the classroom.

     

    Record Students Reading

    The ability to self-monitor one’s own reading is an important skill taught in the early elementary grades. One great way to teach self-monitoring is by having students record themselves reading. I created a Donor’s Choose project a few years ago to get four digital audio recorders for my classroom. Thanks to generous donations I got my recorders in no time! Now my students can read into the handheld recorders and play back their own voices. To help students listen for characteristics of a good read-aloud, I provide each child with a Self-Monitoring Checklist (in English or in Spanish). For an extra treat, I even attach the recorders to a stuffed animal to double the fun!

     

    Read With a Stuffed Animal

    Much like fellow blogger Alycia Zimmerman shared in her post "Stuffed Animals as Reading and Writing Buddies," your students will find it both enjoyable and highly motivating to read with a furry friend. Choose a special independent reading time for students to read with a stuffed animal of their choice. You can plan ahead and have students bring their favorite plush toy from home or you can use stuffed animals you have in your classroom. I love purchasing the storybook plush toys from Kohl’s Cares because they go perfectly with some of my favorite children’s books and the purchase supports a great cause.

     

    Comprehension Practice

    Fluency and accuracy are important parts of reading for young students, but they are meaningless without comprehension. Take some time away from reading drills to make sure that your students understand what they read. One great resource I’ve found to check for student understanding is Mary Rose’s book Week-by-Week Homework: Reading Comprehension. I have a copy of the first grade texts, but there are versions all the way up to sixth grade. Each of the 30 reproducible texts begins with an informational section for teachers, complete with the Common Core State Standards met by the story and questions. The rest of the book includes a note to parents, 30 single-page stories with illustrations, and a set of targeted, standards-based comprehension questions to accompany each story. Yes, these make fabulous homework activities, but I also think they’re perfect for practicing comprehension in your classroom. You can copy the stories for students to read during guided reading or centers, having each child answer the comprehension questions when they finish reading. These worksheets lend themselves to partner work as well, so they would fit almost anywhere in your reading routine.

     

    Reading Picnic Reading picnic

    When the weather is nice enough, I like to take my class outside for a reading picnic. I ask students to bring beach towels and sunglasses from home and we head out for some fresh air. Students love getting to lie on their towels, put on their favorite shades, and read in the sun. You’d be surprised how long students will read independently when they are enjoying the outdoors.

     

    Reading the Pictures

    Beginning readers are often overwhelmed by the idea of independent reading because they are unable to read all of the words themselves. As teachers, we can work to instill a love of reading in our students right from the start by teaching them to read the pictures, not just the words. Each year as I introduce literacy centers to my new students I teach a lesson on the many ways to read a book. Yes, you can read the words written in a story, but you can also read the pictures. Using visual context clues, students can allow their imaginations to take flight as they invent their own words for a picture book. I really love using Flotsam, Lion and the Mouse, and The Umbrella as inspiration for students’ own stories.

     

    Reading stamina pajama partyReading Stamina Pajama Party

    If students are to be successful independent readers they need to build stamina for sustained reading. In my class we practice building stamina by first reading silently for only a couple of minutes at a time. As the students become more and more comfortable sitting and reading by themselves, we extend the time. Once my whole class can read independently for 20 minutes we have a reading stamina pajama party. Students wear their PJs to school, bring a favorite stuffed animal and a blanket, and we read all over the room. Students tell me time and time again that these reading parties are favorite school memories. As a teacher, there is nothing better than watching students smiling and giggling with excitement over the chance to read!

     

    Close Reading

    Close reading is a strategy where students read a short passage multiple times with the intent of looking for specific information within the text. While this skill is useful in the upper grades for analyzing literature or taking notes from a textbook, the process of close reading can be very beneficial for younger children as well. Scholastic has a great collection of resources for close reading with students of all ages. I personally like using their Literary Passages: Close Reading books. The book begins with an introduction to close reading for teachers and then provides comprehension skill sheets, short text passages, and comprehension worksheets. It is important to note that these books only include fictional stories, so nonfiction close reading should be done using Scholastic News articles or other nonfiction texts. To help my students get the most out of the practice of close reading I provide them with a Close Reading Symbols page (in English or in Spanish) that shows the markings they can use to annotate their text.

     

    Scholastic Listen and Read: Read-Along Books

    If you are looking for a new addition to your electronic reading library for students I would highly recommend Scholastic’s Listen and Read: Read-Along Books. These free online storybooks include nonfiction text collections on the topics of community workers, animals, and the president. The stories are written at the early elementary level and have the option for students to either read the text themselves or listen to the story aloud. At the end of each book is a “What Did You Learn” quiz that asks students to answer a few multiple choice comprehension questions. Between the real-world photographs and motivating topics, I have found that students beg to get to read any of these 15 storybooks on the computer or our iPads.

     

    I hope you can use some of these ideas to bring new life into your reading classroom this spring. If you have any other great reading suggestions to share, please leave a comment below. As always, thanks for stopping by!

     

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