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 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…

4th Year Concerns & Questions: Language Arts Instruction

Language Arts Instruction

  • How do I create accountability for reading during class?
    • I did not love the reading response sheets. It just seemed tedious.
    • I wasn’t consistent with the “Turn and Talks” at the end of SR/DEAR time. Even so, I want 100% accountability and I feel like this strategy allows for students to slip through.
    • I tried putting a stuffed animal on top of a desk or group of students that were on-task in reading. (I called them “Star Readers”.) This actually motivated a good number of my students but it took a few minutes for me to look at my recording to see who got it last, etc. I want to be as fair as possible but that took away valuable Guided Reading and Conference time.
  • What to do about spelling…
  • How to execute novel groups better…
  • Daily Five Cafe…
    • I still have so many questions and kinks I’m still trying to figure out. This will have to be a separate post.

3rd Year Reflections: LA Instruction

Language Arts Instruction

  • When SOL dates (standardized testing) came closer, I had my class write reading responses at the end of SR/DEAR time. Then any students that wanted to share what they wrote to the class did. I didn’t love this strategy but I was desperate in trying to find accountability with students actually reading.