Top 10 Must Have Literacy Books ‚ÄĒ For The Love of Literacy

I love everything about reading. I love reading, I love teaching reading and I love reading about teaching reading. ūüôā Here are my top 10 books that I believe that every literacy leader should read. I have read most, and I have a couple that are on my summer reading list. ūüôā Teaching with Intention:¬†[‚Ķ]

via Top 10 Must Have Literacy Books ‚ÄĒ For The Love of Literacy


Guided Reading Self-Assessment: Test yourself!!

Imagem-blog-Geopi-Camilaőü ¬†I use an assessment to determine the levels of my students (Assessing Reading Progress: Setting Goals & Monitoring, The most important focus for guided reading success,¬†)

őü ¬†I group my students based on their reading levels or needs (How to group students, How do I find out what my students need?¬†The most valuable resource for literacy instruction)

őü¬† My groups are made of less than 6 students (Teachers can respond to children’s reading more effectively. Amendum, et al., 2009)

őü ¬†I know the reading behaviors needed for my students to reach their next level (Guided Reading freebies!¬†¬†The most valuable resource for literacy instruction)

őü ¬†I know the text characteristics for all the levels represented in my class (F & P Guided Reading Text Level Descriptions)

őü ¬†I select books based on appropriate text characteristics for each level (Find information for selecting appropriate texts here)

őü ¬†My students reread previous books for the first few minutes of the lesson (The Power of Rereading)

őü ¬† I use running records to assess my students’ growth or frustration once a week, per student (Running Records Resources, Running Records App)

őü ¬†I move students based on the results of the weekly running records (Assessing Reading Progress)

őü ¬†My book introduction allows students to access the text, but leaves them work to do (How to Craft Strong Book Intros for Guided Reading)

őü ¬†I take anecdotal notes while students are reading and note strengths and weaknesses (Observing and Noting Reading Behaviors)

őü ¬†I engage groups in conversations about the text

  • Literacy develops best through social interaction and dialogue with others (Dowhower, 1999)
  • Teachers should make a shift from asking predetermined questions designed to ensure that the students arrive at the ‚Äúright‚ÄĚ meaning to facilitating conversations that encourage students‚Äô exploratory talk as they arrive at a deeper meaning (Gavelek and Raphael, 1996)


őü ¬†I have a variety of appropriate independent, shared, or project-based activities for the remainder of the class that keep them engaged while I am working with my groups (What does research say about literacy centers?, ¬†Powerful resource for small group instruction)

őü ¬† There are no interruptions during my guided reading lessons from the remainder of my class¬†(How do I organize my classroom for small group instruction?, 3 ways to ensure success at small group and center time, Powerful resource for small group instruction)

őü ¬†I make sure when my groups leave the table they are applying what we practiced during guided reading (Critical component for guided reading success)

How’d you do?


10 Best Practices for Brain Compatible Teaching!

  1.  Learners need to feel safe

  2. Learners need to have structureScreen Shot 2017-05-04 at 3.10.31 PM

  3. Learners need novel activities

  4. Require frequent responses

  5. Allow appropriate wait time

  6. Combine content with music or movement

  7. Provide water every 10 to 45 minutes

  8. Offer fresh or dried fruits

  9. Create a relaxing atmosphere that feels “homey”

  10. Allow students to make choices

Critical Component for Guided Reading Success & FREEBIES!!

There is only one way to know if your students are transferring the strategies you teach in guided reading to their reading behaviors, and that is…independent reading! ¬†reading

If you do not have 15-20 minutes in your day for independent reading, find a way to fit it in!  And by the way, you need to be available during this time to observe and confer with your students!

What the research says…

Students who read independently become better readers, score higher on achievement tests in all subject areas, and have greater content knowledge than those who do not (Krashen 1993; Cunningham and Stanovich 1991; Stanovich and Cunningham 1993)

Students who do a substantial amount of voluntary reading demonstrate a positive attitude toward reading is upheld in both qualitative and quantitative research (Long and Henderson 1973; Greaney 1980; Hepler and Hickman 1982; Greaney and Hegarty 1987; Reutzel and Hollingsworth 1991; Shapiro and White 1991; Mathewson 1994; Barbieri 1995; Short 1995)

Students’ reading achievement has been shown to correlate with success in school and the amount of independent reading they do (Greaney 1980; Anderson, Fielding and Wilson 1988)

Time spent reading contributes to reading achievement in ways that simply doing worksheets or other activities does not (Allington, 2002; Foorman et al., 2006)

We become more proficient at what we practice (Cullinan 1992)


A few things to consider…

You may need to build the stamina of the students to read for 15-20 minutes at a time, especially if they are new to independent reading.  Start with 3-5 minutes if you need to- rather than having 20 minutes where you are redirecting behaviors for 15 of them!

Make sure students have several books they can read independently, in case they lose interest in one or finish before time is up.  They should also have one or two books that stretch them a bit in the direction of the next level they are working toward.

Allow students to find a space alone n the room where they can get comfortable or move away from others to focus on reading.  Rug squares or pillows would be a good investment.  This sends the message that reading is enjoyable and not just a desk and chair activity!

Consider giving students the opportunity for the last few minutes to talk with a partner about what they read.  You can even offer a topic for  them to discuss like What was something interesting you read? or What made you laugh while you were reading?  Or you could have them discuss a skill you are working one like, What did you learn about your character? or Was your book fiction or non fiction?  How do you know?  This brings in social context of riding and creates accountability for their reading time.  At some point students can begin to come up with sharing ideas or questions.

What should YOU do?

Observe:  Simply watch reading behaviors of the class as a whole, or individual readers to determine teaching or support needs.  Especially when you are introducing things and building stamina.  Here is an inventory you can use to note student behaviors during independent reading.  You can adjust the form as needed here EngagementInventory

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Confer: ¬†Listen in to students’ reading while scaffolding, questioning, or checking on specific strategies you’ve taught during your guided reading lessons. ¬†How else will you know if they are actually applying the strategies they have learned properly- or at all?? ¬†Before leaving each student, tell them 2 things they did well and one thing they should work on…”2 Hugs and a Push” or “2 Glows and a Grow”.

Here are some sample of conferencing forms…click on them to get the PDF

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Found some amazing information and freebies here…
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¬† ¬†Here is a free download I found there…
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What are some ideas you have for independent reading?  Comment below!

Guided Reading: Think you’ve seen it all? Check out these FREEBIES!!

LOVE Genia Connell’s post Guided Reading Organization Made Easy!¬† Check out the pics and video below. ¬†Want to see more? ¬†Find a Universal Lesson Plan template, free binder cover, and book organization materials on her post- click here!

Great idea for collecting student work!  

Maybe take pics once the work is complete to upload and save!

For observing and noting student behaviors…


Click the pic below to get the indicators A -Z for FREE!!!


Do you have materials and ideas you’d like to share? ¬†Leave a note below!


Teacher Superpowers!! Are You “With It”??

igradeu-the-7-superpowers-every-teacher-must-master-ndash-the-chalk-473261“Withitness” (with-it-ness) is a collection of superpowers that allow teachers manage their classroom effectively through preventative discipline. ¬†Do you have these superpowers? ¬†

Withitness is a model created by educational theorist Jacob Kounin who focused on a teacher’s ability to affect student behavior through instructional management. ¬†He defines withitness as the teachers ability to be aware of every action in the classroom and responding appropriately to it.

Here are a few of his key ideas…

Proximity and Body Language Eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, and physical proximity all¬†indicate to the students that the teacher is in control. ¬†Constantly moving throughout the room and always facing the students demonstrates that the classroom is your domain and that you command student attention. ¬†Not in a threatening manner…but showing strength and confidence.

Overlapping  This is the teachers ability to multitask in the classroom.  Taking attendance,  greeting students entering the classroom, and offering a word of encouragement for the students completing a morning activity all at the same time is an example of overlapping.  Students are more likely to stay on task when they know the teacher has her eyes on everyone at all times.  

Ripple Effect ¬†This is where the teachers clarity and firmness when correcting one student’s behavior positively impact the behavior of other students. ¬†This is most effective at the beginning of the school year in order for students to learn what will be tolerated and what will not. ¬†Along with this is the idea of correcting even the smallest infractions as if they were major in hopes of lessening the chances that major infractions will occur. ¬†The ripple effect is enhanced when the teacher names the offense and gives the reason why it is unacceptable with a firmness that conveys “I mean it”.

Group Focus  Holding the attention of students is essential to managing the classroom and reducing misbehavior.  Active participation is key to keeping students engaged.  Questioning, regular checks for understanding, and varying students who are called upon to answer or contribute are a few ways to focus the attention of the class.  Keeping a pace and rhythm to the day, smooth transitions, offering variety and challenges, and accountability  all improve student attention and participation.

Bottom line….students are mirrors that reflect YOU. ¬†

If you are dry, dull, slow, and quiet they will be too.  

If you are aggressive, mean, and demeaning they will be too.  

If you display withitness….they will too!! ¬†¬†Everybody wins!!




Can’t do? or Won’t do? ¬†Quick check to minimize unnecessary interventions!


Finding time for interventions or reteaching is very difficult! ¬†Most times we assume if a student hasn’t done well on an assignment, it’s because they had trouble with it. ¬†The truth is, sometimes students would rather not be bothered, right?? ¬†

Distractions, rushing through, or just a lack of motivation could cause students to put forth less than their best effort. ¬†When this is the case, the last thing you want to do is set aside time to reteach the skill just to discover they didn’t need it!

So before you take the time to reteach or create an intervention, here is a quick method to determine if low achievement is a “can’t do” or “won’t do” issue…

Click on it to get the PDF!screen-shot-2017-03-05-at-10-58-04-am


Here is a more official 2-page intervention tool you can use from one of my FAV websites for academic and behavioral interventions…Intervention Central!



Click on either page to go to the PDF!

Don’t waste time reteaching if you don’t have to! ¬†Try these tools to eliminate unnecessary interventions!!


Assessing Reading Progress: Setting Goals and Monitoring Progress

Guided Reading instruction is critical in students’ reading progress.¬†¬†Accurate levels, appropriate goals, and consistent monitoring¬†will bolster that progress!

Guided Reading picture Cartoon

I consider Fountas and Pinnell to be the experts on guided reading and if you need to know why, check out my earlier posts which discuss their Continuum of Literacy and guided reading resources.

In order to get the most bang for your buck in guided reading, you must make sure your students are leveled appropriately and you are consistent in monitoring their progess towards an appropriate goal.¬† Let’s look at these a little more closely.

Assess your students’ instructional levels

  • Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System:¬† this assessment will most accurately align with guided reading levels.

assessClick pic for more info

  • DRA2 assessment is acceptable, however be aware this assessment is set up to find independent- not instructional level.¬† The manual does give instructions on finding instructional level so find that information before testing students!

untitledClick pic for more info

  • If you do not have access to an assessment product, you can still assess your students levels as long as you have leveled books and know how to conduct a running record.¬† Click here for info on taking and scoring running records.¬† A Google search is also full of running record information.¬† After taking he running record, the following information will help you determine whether the level is independent, instructional, or hard for the student.


To determine appropriate levels and set goals

  • First know the guided reading¬†levels for your grade level.¬†


  • Compare their levels to the grade level expectations


This will inform you of how to proceed…students who are “Approaching Expectations” are your Tier 2 students and should be seen at least 2-3 times a week for guided reading…and those in “Does Not Meet Expectations” are your Tier 3 students who you need to see daily for guided reading.¬† The heading at the top will help you set goals for each group of students.

Monitor students monthly progress

  • Use this resource to track students’ monthly progress towards their guided reading goals


Keeping track of this information is critical to maximize your students’ growth during your guided reading lessons.¬† You MUST take constant running records to ensure students are in the correct group.¬† Be prepared to use the running record information to move students to higher- or lower level groups.¬† Need instructions on running records- click here.¬† Each student will move at their own pace and this is why groups need to be flexible.¬† Don’t¬†impede students progress by having them in incorrect level groups.¬†¬† This is about the only way you can really mess up guided reading!!¬†

So move ahead- but with appropriate knowledge of where your students are, and where you need them to be.


The STATIC-FREE Classroom!!

¬†NEVER put static labels on students…and NEVER EVER create static groups!!

The DIY RTI classroom must be a dynamic  space where flexibility is the rule rather than the exception.1111

Let’s compare the definitions of static and dynamic.

Static:  Having no motion; being at rest; quiescent.   Fixed; stationary.  Social characteristic of  a society that has reached a state of equilibrium so that no changes are taking place.

Wow…sound like any classroom you’ve ever seen?? ¬†Me either!! ¬†No changes taking place must also refer to growth right?? ¬†What an awful disservice to children everywhere!

Dynamic:  Of or relation to energy or objects in motion.  Marked by intensity and vigor.  Characterized by continuous change, activity, or progress.   From the Greek dunamikos meaning powerful. 

Need I say more??

The performance of your students will vary continuously by skill, subject, and even by days at times.  You must create a dynamic environment that is flexible and changes according to the needs of your students.

Long gone are the days of the Redbirds, Bluebirds, and Yellowbirds grouping. Flexible grouping allows your students to be appropriately challenged and reduces the chance that you may label students’ ability or potential. It is vital that you permit movement between your groups and especially across subject areas. Just because a student may be below-level in Reading, doesn’t necessarily mean the same will be true for Math or other subjects. Remember students talents or personal interests can have a huge effect on their readiness to learn something.

Even your above-level students can benefit from flexible grouping. Just as they can profit from working with their intellectual peers, they can also gain experience from acting as a leader in a mixed group. Peer tutoring is a beneficial strategy in any classroom.

So keep those definitions in mind when you are tempted to take wide path, which is definitely easier, but detrimental to those minds that rely on you to do what’s best for them!

Happy grouping!!