Analyzing Your Classroom Library

analyzing classroom library

Your library is the heartbeat of your classroom. It is the area where students get to explore their own interests. Additionally, it is where students get to relax and see how exciting books are. Honestly, this is the single most important area of the classroom. Therefore, you must spend time analyzing your classroom library. It is crucial to make sure that books are appropriate for students while showing them how magical books are. 

analyzing classroom library

Student Opinions Toward Reading 

Your emphasis on your library can indirectly impact students’ attitudes toward reading. If you are not excited about it, your students will likely not be excited. Similarly, if you do not show pride in your library or want to spend time in it, neither will your students. Honestly, we have a significant impact on student opinions toward reading. You need to show students how amazing it is when you get time to pick out a book and sit down and explore the pages. 

Strong Classroom Library 

Classroom libraries are hard to build. Teachers should not have to spend their own money on books for the classroom. However, having a solid classroom library is essential. If students do not have choices to meet their different interests, they will think books do not apply to what they like. This is absolutely not the case! There are books out there for every interest, hobby, and topic! So, search garage sales, library sales, FB group donations, and Scholastic book clubs for sales. These are great options for buying lots of books at reasonable prices. 

Work-a-Round to a Classroom Library 

Sadly, some teachers are unable to create their own library. This may be a school policy or due to a limited budget. However, this should not stop students from reading books. Instead, the school library needs to become your best friend. You MUST make it a priority to take students to the library. They need ample opportunities to go throughout the week to find books. This time will prove to them how excellent books are. 

Aspects to Consider 

Does having lots of books mean a strong classroom library? Not necessarily! There are other aspects you want to consider when building and analyzing your classroom library. 

1. Old versus New 

You want to have a balance of new versus older published books. This means there are various topics, writing styles, and illustrations. Essentially, you are offering students tons of choices. 

2. Variety of Genres 

Every student has different interests. However, they may have only explored fiction and nonfiction books. So, it is crucial to offer a variety of genres, such as poetry, historical, and graphic novels. 

While students may say they prefer fiction or nonfiction, chances are they have not explored other genres. Thankfully, the Genre Activities to Find the Magic in Reading will help students explore other options! These print-and-go activities help motivate students to dive into different genres! Students will love to showcase their learning through this exploration. 

3. Organization

Organization is critical when analyzing your classroom library! You want students to quickly find the books they are looking for. Organizational ideas include genre, topic, author, and series. These are great ways to help students see all the books they want to read. Honestly, it is also so helpful when putting books away! 

4. Representation of ALL students 

Do you have representation of ALL of your students in your classroom? If not, now is the time to update with more diversity. Your library needs to reflect the population of your students. In other words, the books must represent ALL students. It is helpful to use the analyzing chart when performing a quick audit. This is a great way to ensure you have the needed representation.

While analyzing your classroom library, you can also get rid of unwanted books to make room for new ones. You may donate ones you no longer want or set them aside to rotate them throughout the years. Either way, students must find books that reflect who they are. 

5. Showcasing Select Books 

How do you highlight special books throughout the year? How are you getting students excited about your library and drawing them in? For instance, do you have a spot where you showcase books based on an upcoming holiday or special day? If not, now is the perfect time to create this spot! Students will be eager to see the new options in the showcase spot.

Honestly, the classroom library is one of the most impactful areas of the classroom. It allows students to learn more about themselves, their community, and upcoming events. Additionally, it is the perfect way to motivate students to become independent readers while showing them their growth. Be sure to check out Perfecting Independent Reading when analyzing your classroom library. It will help ensure students see the magic and adventure behind each book. 

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 a literary analysis FREEBIE for blog exclusive subscribers!

analyzing classroom library

Teaching Reading and Science Simultaneously

teaching reading and science simultaneously

Are you always stressing out over teaching all of your standards each year? Or, do you feel uneasy about teaching all the standards but not really digging into them? I know I do! Every. Single. Year! The stress never goes away because we want to teach students in meaningful ways, but there are so many standards to teach! After I had enough of feeling like this, I knew I had to change something. A thought came to my mind about teaching reading and science simultaneously. After trying it out and seeing the fantastic results, I am excited to share all of the incredible benefits! 

teaching reading and science simultaneously

#1- Build Background Knowledge 

Teachers know the tremendous power of background knowledge. However, it is now time for students to understand this! No, we cannot just tell them the benefits of understanding background knowledge. They need to experience it personally. This is precisely why teaching reading and science simultaneously is so beneficial. Ultimately, students will develop stronger comprehension if they already have some background knowledge about the subject. Are you wondering how this works? Let me explain! If students are getting ready to learn about the scientific method in science, they can read about the process in a story. This can be about an exciting experiment and how the character works through the process. Or, if students are going to read about the life cycle of a butterfly, this is the perfect time to teach about the topic in science. Teaching these subjects simultaneously allows students to understand so many topics deeper. 

#2- Higher Level of Interest and Engagement 

What kid doesn’t want to do a science experiment? They are so much fun! Honestly, reading about science and doing experiments will help ensure all of your students fully understand the material! While teachers want students to be excited about the class, they always want to provide high-quality learning. So, teaching reading and science simultaneously allows students to learn about the world. After reading about different topics, students can complete various science experiments related to the information. 

I have the perfect bundle for you if you’re looking for the best units to bring in interest and engagement! The Science Smash Ups Bundle creates a fantastic way to teach reading and science simultaneously. There are workbooks filled with ways for students to practice reading skills and hands-on labs for exploration. Honestly, students will love literacy and science coming together as one. 

scientific method

#3- Practical Application 

How many times do students ask you why they need to learn specific material? I’m sure it happens more than you would like! Thankfully, teaching reading and science simultaneously naturally shows students the why behind lessons. They will read and see real-world examples through texts, experiences, and resources. Your students will love to know exactly why the content is essential to their lives and the world. 

#4- Connection to Career and Employability Skills 

No matter the age you teach, districts push career and employability skills. Ultimately, this is the reason why students are in school. They need to learn the material that will allow them to advance their education or earn a well-paying job right after graduation. Teaching reading and science simultaneously will enable students to explore career options in the real world. Additionally, they can gain more insight into where they want their future to go. After exploring a few options, I love to hear students share ideas about their futures! Best of all, they have the background knowledge to explain the reasons behind their plans and ideas. 

science experiment

#5- Applying MULTIPLE Reading Skills with Science Texts 

Reading about science is complicated. There are so many challenging vocabulary terms and concepts. So, this is what makes reading about science so amazing! Students apply MULTIPLE reading skills to comprehend the information. I can even reference the reading skills we focus on in reading to show students how to implement them. Then, they can do this to help LEARN the science standards! After I tried this, it seemed crazy not to simultaneously teach science and reading. I focused on teaching various skills while students gained confidence in their knowledge by applying the strategies. It became a win-win for all. 

If you are looking for an incredible way to implement teaching reading and science simultaneously, check out Science Smash Ups! Students will learn all about the Scientific Method through engaging and exciting reading skills. 

Teachers have to make so many decisions each day. After reviewing the above benefits, I hope that teaching reading and science simultaneously becomes a no-brainer. Using this strategy throughout the year allows students to learn material deeper. On top of this, teachers will feel less stress over planning so many lessons for so many standards. 

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 a few FREEBIES of my Scientific Method unit to take a closer look!  

teaching reading and writing simultaneously

 

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! 

schema

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

Text Evidence

text evidence

Are you always trying to encourage students to actually use text evidence? Does it become exhausting going over the importance of doing so every day only for students not to do it? Honestly, these are concerns that all teachers have! While teachers understand the importance of text evidence, students do not always see the need. Luckily, there are tips and tricks to get students actually to use text evidence! 

text evidence

#1: Create the Question

Many times, students do not see the connection between questions being asked and using text evidence to answer. So, teachers need to adjust their planning to reflect the needs of students. To do this, we will actually reverse the question-and-answer format. Instead of giving students a question to answer, we will start with the answer and create a question! This will greatly help students see the relationship between questions and text evidence! 

For more incredible teaching techniques, check out Text Evidence Lessons. There are many engaging ways to help students understand what it means when you tell them to use text evidence. 

 #2: Match the Word 

Students struggle to follow complex directions! They get confused just reading what to do and want to give up. Luckily, Match the Word is so simple! I tell students to pick out the most important word in the question. It is helpful to remind them to steer clear of repetitive words, such as names. Since those words are all over, they can’t be the most important word! Students will circle the word and then find the word in the text. Since this word may be in the text a few times, students need to decide if each time is important or if one stands out more. This is a concrete way to ensure students know what to go back and look for. 

close reading passages

For the perfect way to squeeze in daily practice of finding text evidence, try out these Close Reading Passages. The bundle contains engaging and interesting passages to ensure students become confident in applying text evidence to their answers. 

#3: Pre-Underline Text Evidence 

Teachers will become blue in the face explaining the importance of text evidence without it sinking into students. This is often because students do not know how to use text evidence to help improve their comprehension. So, you must show them what text evidence looks like and how to use it.

A great way to do this involves highlighting the text you feel will be necessary to answer questions before making copies. It is helpful to have at least five questions. Students will then go and read the passage with the underlined sentences. After reading the passage, they will go back and work on the questions. They will start to answer the question and then go back and read the underlined sentences to see which one provides support.

Now, are you thinking this strategy basically gives them the answer? I can see where the question comes from, but this is not the case. While I am narrowing down the evidence and guiding them on where to look, they still have to analyze all of the sentences! Then, they have to find out which sentence best supports the question. Students are processing evidence and seeing the importance of using the text to answer questions. As a challenge, underline an extra piece of evidence that students will not use to answer questions! Students can even write a question where this extra piece could be the text evidence. 

As they gain confidence, reverse this format! Instead of the teacher highlighting evidence before making copies, students receive a copy with no underlining. Then, they read the text and highlight what they feel is important. After this, they create their own questions where their highlighted sentences would be the answers. Students can even write out their questions and answers to practice writing responses. 

#4: Two Word Summary 

This is such a fun strategy! Students will receive a multi-paragraph text. Then, they will summarize what each paragraph was about to the left or right of the page. However, the summary can only be two words! Now, this will clearly not be a complete summary since there can’t be many words, but students will work hard to pick out two words. After doing this for each paragraph, students will use these summaries when answering questions. If one of the summaries has the word backpack and a question has this word, students know where to look! This strategy is a great way to help students know exactly where to look to bring in text evidence.

text evidence