Always Thinking and Learning about Reading

The thing about teaching is I never leave it behind.  I’m continually thinking about how to improve my practice.  About how to make school more relevant even though I’m struggling up stream against a current of “system”.


I’m only four days into summer holidays and I’m planning away in my mind.  I’m thinking a lot about language arts because I’m teaching English to grades 3-6 students who are in the French Immersion Programme.  I have to catch them up in terms of reading and spelling and support their writing.  Particularly for the grade 3s who have to write EQAO in English even though they have never had any instruction in English – I’ll leave that rant for another day.


My dilemma is how do I make teaching reading relevant?  Writing seems a bit easier since I’m going to introduce blogging to my classes.  I have the summer to set it up.

I plan to use the Daily Five and Daily Cafe routines set out by The 2 Sisters, Gail Moser Bouchey and Joan Moser.  I really like their routines and methods for individual conferencing and guided reading.  I will try to find interesting texts to read.  I have a great classroom library – full of books I’ve been collecting over the years.  I’m hoping to set up the routines so the students can work independently on reading, writing and word work with choice as to what they read, what they write about and when they work on specific tasks.  The thing is, I won’t have that much time with them.  The grade 3s will only have 40 minutes per day.  OY.  So – how to make a language class meaningful and relevant and include critical thinking and technology (I won’t have much access to technology actually, although I’m working on a plan).


So I need some help with the critical thinking, word work, real world connections, technology integration, etc.


Suggestions are very, very welcome.  Thanks in advance.

Image is CC courtesy of Old Shoe Woman

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4 thoughts on “Always Thinking and Learning about Reading

  1. Do you have Fountas and Pinnell’s “Guiding Readers and Writers, grades 3-8”? Their “first 20 days of Independent Reading” are helpful to get kids thinking about their own reading and help you get independent reading up and running so you can get in your conferencing and guided reading time

  2. Hi MamaRed,

    Yes I do have that book – it’s so amazing. It took me a few years to figure that out. What I think my struggle will be is time. They have way more time for language arts than we do. Plus we have to cover Media and Oral communication. I want to make sure that the kids are really engaged in their reading so that they are all actually reading. I think I prefer the Daily 5 routines to the Fountas & Pinnell routines. Although they are all good.

    My main thing lately is making sure that what I am doing is relevant to the kids. That they find their intrinsic motivation and I want them all to be motivated to read for pleasure. I want them to think critically about what they read, not just analyze it using reading strategies but really being critical.

    Maybe I think too much.

  3. Erin, are you familiar with Adrienne Gear’s Reading Power Books – Fiction and Non Fiction? They are fantastic for getting kids to think, and more specifically think about their thinking while they read. The five main avenues for fiction reading including connecting, questioning, visualizing, inferring and transforming. Non Fiction includes zooming In, question/infer, determine importance, connect, and transform.The general concepts can be taught in your mini lessons and students practice independently. Here’s her website, check out her resources too. It works hand in hand with Daily 5. FYI I attended a day workshop with her in June and blogged about it here. I hope that helps. Karen

    • Thanks Karen. I’ve never heard of her and will check her out for sure via your post and her website. I haven’t heard of transforming before, is that the same as synthesizing? Maybe we just use different terminology. The other strategies I use. I’m busily planning classroom layout in my head, wishing I had unlimited funds for an Ikea shop! 🙂 I had an office last year as I was itinerant.

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