Teaching Reading at the Beginning of the School Year: Things to Reconsider

teaching reading

Are you starting to feel anxious over the upcoming school year? I totally get it! While we want to soak up every bit of sun and sleep, our minds can’t help thinking about everything there is to do. So, while lying at the pool, think about what worked last year and what you would like to change. This does not have to be a stressful time where you create a long to-do list. Instead, look at this time as a reflection. So, these things to reconsider when teaching reading at the beginning of the school year provide a way to start! Let’s dive in together and see how we can make this upcoming school year the best one ever. 

teaching reading

#1: Don’t Assume Students Know What ‘Reading Is’

Many times, students think if they just read the words on a page, they are reading. While this is technically true, they are not reading in the academic sense. Let me explain. When we read in school, we focus on so many aspects. This includes comprehension, figurative language, and making connections. However, if students do not know these aspects, they just read the words. They are not improving their understanding or realizing the purpose behind the text. 

We must show students what actual reading is. They need to understand why we are reading and what to look for. So, they need modeling to know what it means to use context clues or how to draw inferences out of a text. By spending this time with students, they will become successful readers! 

#2: Wait to Start Your Curriculum 

You probably think I am crazy for saying this, right? I get it! I really do. Teachers have SO many standards to get through each year. So, there is pressure to get started the minute students enter the classroom for the first time. However, I promise you will see a change in your classroom if you wait. Instead of diving into the material, lay the correct groundwork for your students. For many reasons, waiting will be one of the best things to reconsider when teaching reading at the beginning of the school year! 

First, get to know your students MORE! Now, you may be saying you already do this. However, do you get through the first few weeks of school and suddenly learn something important about a student? It happens all the time! So, take more time to dive into who your students are. They will love having a teacher who cares about them so much. Then, when the time comes, they will be eager to learn with their teacher. For more tips on getting to know your students, check out Beyond the Reading Interest Surveys

Second, consider whether their brains are ready to be readers. Many of your students did not read much over the summer. You cannot expect them to grow from where they left off the previous school year. They need time to adjust, refocus their thinking, and they need smaller readings to help them reawaken their love of reading.  

Third, reflect on their strategies and how solid they are before teaching reading. For instance, do students know what to do when encountering a word they don’t know? Do they remember how to use context clues? Do they even know where to turn in work? There are so many aspects to go over before diving into the content. If you take the time now, the year will go much smoother! 

#3: Always Teach about Schema First 

Everyone organizes their thoughts a bit differently. This means that students will organize their learning and make connections in different ways. This may be on one’s knowledge about people, places, objects, or events. Honestly, students will not just realize they do this. 

Thankfully, the Schema Printables and Activities teach students all about schema! The teacher will model and explain schema and go over everything from relationships to talents. After learning about the brain wheel, students will show all they have in their schema. This is such a FUN way to learn about students even more! 


To deepen their understanding, students will analyze details in a story to determine what information they already had in their schema. They will also realize they add to this information. I LOVE seeing students light up as they discover how impactful their schema is! 

Student thoughts are changing each day. They are experiencing more in the community and learning more at school, So, they will see how they access their schema and how it changes over time. This will help them realize how there are multiple perspectives, such as compassion, empathy, and openness. Then, they will practice using their schema before, during, and after they read to see how they use it to answer questions. This is a great way to help students identify misconceptions as well. 

For more information on schema, check out How Schema Affects Students Reading Comprehension. It will provide great insight into understanding how students think. 

#4: Have You Taught Them How To THINK?

Students are SO hard on themselves! It breaks my heart to hear them say negative comments. This is why I jump right into teaching students how to think! 

Students know themselves better than anyone. So, I go directly to them to learn about their thinking or metacognition. For instance, what are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? By having them answer these questions, I can gain SO much insight into their thinking. I then know where my work begins. 

teaching reading

Developing a growth mindset is HUGE! Students must see that their mistakes are okay and learn as they grow. I love to work on fix-it strategies with students. For example, do you have students who are confident going into a test only to be let down by a low score? Maybe they don’t know how to study. Or, perhaps they have test anxiety. My place here is to work with them on fix-it strategies, making teaching reading that much easier.  I focus on ways to overcome any weaknesses or struggles standing in their way of achieving goals. 

Another critical aspect involves a give-and-take relationship. Students must understand that there are two sides to every story. They need to see situations and identify what both sides look like. When they do, they realize how everyone thinks, feels, and handles obstacles differently. What matters most is how we react and continue. 

#5: Building a Culture of Collaboration 

Don’t you just love it when all of your students work together? It is the best feeling knowing your students can communicate and collaborate. 

Now, have you ever wanted to rip your hair out over constantly telling your students to be nice? I’m sure you have! However, students may not know what is wrong with how they are saying comments. This is because they have to learn how to have successful conversations! They need to learn how to give constructive feedback and interact with classmates despite differences. Students even need to know how to talk about a text. Instead of saying “It was good” or “I agree,” students must practice being specific. Additionally, they need to learn it is okay to interpret something different than others. Honestly, this makes for great conversation! 

For more great tips on working together, check out How to Build a Culture of Collaboration in Your Classroom! 

When the year starts, life becomes extra stressful. There are so many things to handle in your professional and personal life. These things to reconsider when teaching reading at the beginning of the school year can help reduce your stress! I want you to have an incredible year! Reconsidering these aspects can make your classroom and routines even more amazing. 

If you do not want to miss any of the upcoming lessons, join my email list to be notified of all the interactive lessons coming up! By joining the email list, you will also receive freebies for blog exclusive subscribers!

teaching reading

Unpopular Reading Opinions

reading opinions

Isn’t it always amazing to stand back and look at all the students smiling as they learn? One of the best parts of being an educator is how creative teachers can be when planning lessons and managing their classrooms. While working with students is fantastic, behind the scenes can be so stressful. For instance, there are so many different reading opinions and theories to consider when making decisions for your classroom. While no one likes criticism, it is vital to stand your ground on what works best for your students. So, let’s dive into a few unpopular reading opinions!

reading opinions

#1: Lexile Levels are Pointless 

Now, you may want to leave my page after reading this unpopular reading opinion. However, just hear me out! 

Whenever selecting books for your classroom, do you look up the Lexile level to see the appropriateness for your students? Or, do you use qualitative measures, such as content, themes, and maturity level? If we aren’t looking at the right aspects, then the wrong books might get into the hands of students. 

When considering these aspects of selecting books, it is essential to understand that Lexile measures do NOT measure age appropriateness. They also do not measure the book quality, the book’s themes, or other book characteristics. Let’s look at a few examples to prove why Lexile levels underestimate the complexity of fiction. 

The Grapes of Wrath Exile by John Steinbeck is a rather simple read. The Lexile level is 680, which would be appropriate for a 4th or 5th-grade student. However, this book is actually taught in 12th grade due to the themes and language. The War that Saves my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley has a Lexile of 580, which means it would be a book for a 2nd or 3rd-grade student. However, the historical fiction novel is 316 pages long and raises difficult issues of abuse and war. It is from the viewpoint of a child with physical disabilities being sent from London to the countryside during WWII. Yes, a few third graders who are strong and mature readers may read the book, but it is clearly most appropriate for students in grades four or five. 

The Lexile level measures quantifiable aspects, such as sentence length, word count, and word repetition. Due to this, nonfiction Lexile levels are typically higher than the difficulty because of longer sentences and less unfamiliar words. Ultimately, Lexile levels do NOT measure age appropriateness for different age groups. You know your students and the themes and content best for them. Do NOT solely rely on a Lexile number. 

For more guidance, check out Text Complexity and What It All Really Means. This article provides helpful information on measures to consider when selecting books! 

#2: Reading Stamina Isn’t a Thing 

Are you tired of tracking countless data measures on your students? Would you rather spend time building relationships and lessons best for students? Now, I understand that all teachers have to track data. However, data does not need monitoring over every single aspect! One of these includes spending weeks on end at the start of the school year tracking reading stamina. 

Reading stamina is not a thing if students have the right book in their hands. For instance, if students have a book they do not like, they will struggle. Now, this struggle will not be due to the reading level. It will be because they are not interested in the book and do not want to sit and read! If you pick out a new book and do not like it, do you want to keep reading? Most likely not! This is the same for students. 

We need to spend more time book matching with our students to ensure they have a book they are interested in. Reading stamina will soar with investment in the book! They just need a book that interests their curiosity. 

Be sure to check out Perfecting Independent Reading to ensure students see the power of reading. 

#3: Centers are Overrated 

There’s a common phrase amongst teachers…  Work Smarter Not Harder. This is needed to avoid taking hours of work home and constantly feeling stressed by a to-do list. At the end of the day, your students want a happy teacher who enjoys being in the classroom. Your excitement can naturally build in more engagement from students! 

When thinking about centers, they require tons of planning and the technique you use depends on your stance on different reading opinions. For example, you may have 4 different centers within 40 minutes. This means you have to plan 4 completely different activities for this short time period. Instead, allow students to work in small groups on the same activities you would use in centers. Each group can work on the activities at the same time.  Then, you can answer questions as they arise with everyone or with a small group who needs extra help. Honestly, this is one of my favorite ways to address any misconceptions! Students receive the support they need versus giving them a set amount of time. When keeping students at the heart of your lessons, they will enjoy your room’s learning and educational process! 

#4: Differentiation can be Damaging 

Yes, there is a thing as too much differentiation! Teachers are going to the extreme to personalize the education of students. Now, this sounds wonderful on paper. It is great to meet students where they’re at. However, it has come to a point where we are teaching based on need versus grade-level content at the same time. Grade level content, or tier 1 instruction, needs to be taught to ALL students! Now, students who struggle can receive tier 1 and tier 2 instruction simultaneously. This will help meet needs and teach new content.  Otherwise, students will continuously miss new content!

reading and math interventions

These 10 Minute Reading and Math Interventions are quick and easy ways to help students achieve their goals! 

#5: Whole Group Instruction Needs to Happen 

Some may say whole-class instruction should not happen. However, it needs to! It also needs to occur for longer than 10-15 minutes. For example, if you start with a model and then work together as a class, it will take a good amount of time! Students can even work with partners with the whole class working on the same activity. This very well may take 20 minutes, and I promise you that students will be engaged! If you do the instruction right, students will be active in their learning process. 

After considering these unpopular reading opinions or watching Facebook Live for information, you may want to throw tomatoes at me. I’m sure I rocked some boats with these reading opinions. However, it is important to remember that everyone has a different opinion. When making your decisions on how to teach instruction, just be sure to keep students at the heart of lessons. With your excitement and willingness to help students, they will be excited to learn. 

If you do not want to miss any of the upcoming lessons, join my email list to be notified of all the interactive lessons coming up! By joining the email list, you will also receive freebies for blog exclusive subscribers!  

reading opinions