Forced Reading Assignments – A No!

I’m taking a SPOT class this summer. One of our assignments is to read five trade books for our grade level and an eight square reading reflection on each book.

So far, out of the four books I have finished reading, I have enjoyed only one of them. The other four, I really did not enjoy. Quarter to mid-way, I realized how much I don’t prefer reading these specific books  (the characters, the tone, the themes, the plot, etc.) On my own accord, I would abandon them but since reading five of these books is required for the class, I pludge right on through finishing them. Page by page trying to finish these books, my distaste grows and grows.

Having just finished another one of these books I did not enjoy, I am beginning to not enjoy reading!!!!!!!!!!

This is what it must feel like for students having to read assigned chapter books. It’s laborious and makes me want to run away from books! Don’t do this to your students!!

  • Note: The SPOT class offers a wide variety of trade books to choose from. My co-worker and I are sharing them and she was kind enough to keep the supplies in her room closet. I randomly chose five to bring home for the summer. If I had access, I would have gladly traded out the books but don’t currently have that option.

5th Year: Parent Volunteers

Big Hit: Novel Groups!

This past school year, I had parent volunteers continue with listening to students read and asking comprehension questions, practice math fact fluency, and prepare the Friday Folders.

I also did something new where I had the parents lead novel groups (resources used by Laura Candler). This was a big hit! The students loved these novel groups. They felt ownership of their books and the assignments given. I also like it because these groups are heterogeneous, based off their own interest, and they created in-depth discussions and connections. I also love these novel groups because I think it is natural and similar to how adults participate with book clubs.

Donalyn Miller from Reading in the Wild writes, “When students read together every day, they forge strong bonds through shared reading experiences that help them define themselves as members of a reading tribe,” (Miller, 2014, p. 9).

Love anything that promotes more reading!

5th Year: Overall Instruction

Overall Instruction

  • Whole Brain/Power Teaching: I sprinkled these strategies last year and it worked well. I would like to do more this upcoming school year.
    • It looks like these strategies would encourage students to be active and engaged as opposed to passive or daydreaming.
    • I have read a few of the critiques for these strategies but there are a great amount of concepts that do require memorization. These strategies are great to use just as a quick review of concepts or understanding of directions.
  • More Anchor Charts: Worked well; will continue
  • Academic Language with Sentence Frames: Worked well; will continue!
    • I’m inspired by Maria Arguelles to promote academic language. Baby-talking is a disservice when considering what students are capable of. According to the information Arguelles shared from her class:
      • “I am absolutely oppose. My boss discriminations me all the time at Macy’s. She salaries me lower than other people and prejudices at me sometimes,” (Kinsella, 2005)
      • By sixth grade, 80% of school reading tasks are expository (Venezky, 2007)
      • Vocabulary knowledge is strongly linked to academic success (Becker, 1997; Anderson & Nagy, 1991)
      • Vocabulary knowledge is the best predictor of reading comprehension. Grade 4 vocabulary predicts grade 12 reading (Snow et al., 1991)
  • Interactive Notebooks: I would like to incorporate this with all subjects!
    • To be used as a part of direct instruction that may allow for more engagement and ownership of material.
    • This can be also used as a study guide.

5th Year Reflections: Math

Math Instruction

  • I love my guided math groups. It allows for immediate differentiation. Students can still hear thinking from each other as a whole class during whole class introductory lessons and daily at closure time.
  • I need to make it a point of more accountability with students that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing during centers.
  • One of the centers is math fact fluency using XtraMath.

    • Every month, the class records in their data folders their progress from XtraMath creating graphs.Those that mastered skills at a certain point could go onto math skills on IXL.
    •  Concern: What happens by the end of the year is that students that are already high in math master most or all of the operations. Those that are lower in math don’t even master addition.
      • I might take for a monthly grade on progress for these skills to help motivate students more with mastery. I know other teachers give paper quizzes but I might as well use the convenience of technology and use the XtraMath reports for grades.

5th Year Reflections and Goals (LA)

40 Book ChallengeHolly Mueller's 40 Book Challenge

I dipped a few toes with this and now I feel comfortable embracing it for the next school year. I would like to incorporate writing reflections on progress from Holly Mueller’s blog.

Although I think it is unnatural to write reading responses after reading (which I mandate but struggle with as you can read from my other posts), I think it would be neat and encouraging as a child to know exactly how many books were read for a school year.

Monthly Book Reports

Just like I have students working on on-going independent writing assignments, I am going to try to have my class do monthly book reports. As we progress throughout the year, I’d like to incorporate technology and different websites to instill engagement with the book reports. – I did not do this but would like to this school year?

Guided Reading Groups

I struggle with incorporating small group and individual reading conferences as described by Daily Five. I’m taking SPOT starting this summer, so I’m hoping a lot of my questions and concerns will be answered!


I have finally found a decent groove with spelling! It’s a combination of the Scholastic Spelling Instruction by Beth Newingham and Words Their Way that is differentiated, but I think allows an appropriate amount of time for other instruction.

Reading is Important

Information provided by Maria Arguelles from a class reminds me how crucial wide reading is for students:

  • Reading 14 minutes a day means reading over 1,000,000 words a year.
  • “Research has shown that children who read even 10 minutes a day outside of school experience substantially higher rates of vocabulary growth between second and fifth grade than children who do little or no reading.” (Anderson & Nagy, 1992 – p. 46)
  • “Of 100 familiar words met in reading, a reader may learn 3-15 using context.” (Beck, McKoewn, & Kucan, 2002)

4th Year Goals: Language Arts

40 Book Challenge

Holly Mueller's 40 Book Challenge

Sounds fun and hopefully motivating.

The picture to the left is inspiring and pasted from Holly Mueller’s blog. Mrs. Chappell’s Classroom is another blog with information on conducting a 40 Book Challenge.

Melissa O’Bryan provides a free recording sheet for a 40 Book Challenge on TeachersPayTeachers that I want to try out.

Monthly Book Reports

Just like I have students working on on-going independent writing assignments, I am going to try to have my class do monthly book reports. As we progress throughout the year, I’d like to incorporate technology and different websites to instill engagement with the book reports.

Guided Reading Groups and Novel Groups

I struggled with whether I am supposed to do Novel Groups or Guided Reading Groups or Personal Conferences or Strategy Groups. Confusing.

I am going to explicitly going to try combining Novel Groups, Guided Reading Groups, and Personal Conferences with a set schedule.


Doing the scholastic spelling instruction provides high-frequency words and differentiated word families. I would also like to include content and academic vocabulary…