The Best Way to Develop Your Students' Love of Books

The Best Way to Develop Your Students' Love of Books - The Reading Roundup

As teachers, we always say that we want to "help our students develop a love of reading." But how do we actually do that? Literacy gurus and researchers tell us it all comes down to finding the right book for our students. As we all know, sometimes that isn't always as easy as it sounds.


The Best Way to Develop Your Students' Love of Books - The Reading Roundup

Through many years of trial and error, I've found a strategy that has proven to be highly successful with my students: a special delivery mailbox! Continue reading to find out how I've implemented this approach to help my students truly get excited about reading!


The Best Way to Develop Your Students' Love of Books - The Reading Roundup

Special Delivery Mailbox for Book Recommendations

I wanted to find a fun way to provide students with personalized book recommendations. I bought a mailbox and a small table to keep outside of my room. I created several envelopes with a "Special Delivery" label and laminated them for durability.

The Best Way to Develop Your Students' Love of Books - The Reading Roundup

Throughout the year, I randomly place books in an envelope addressed to specific students. These are books I think they will like based on their individual interests. They are books I have in my room, borrow from the library, or order from Scholastic. Each day students are eager to check to see if there is any mail in the mailbox! This alone adds a tremendous amount of excitement for reading!


Ways to Discover Your Students' Interests.


1 - Administer Reading Interest Surveys

Every year I always administer reading interest and attitude surveys with my students. These surveys provide me with a wealth of information about how students feel about reading and more importantly how they feel about themselves as readers. 

The interest surveys tell me the types of books students enjoy reading, any specific books/series they already like, as well as their interests in general. (Remember to accept ALL types of reading - graphic novels, books you feel are below their reading level, etc.) This information helps me come up with book recommendations specifically targeted to each students' individual interests. To find out more about reading interest and attitude surveys, click here.

Reading Interest and Attitude Surveys - The Reading Roundup
Click to download the surveys I use!

After I administer the surveys, I create a master document listing each students' personal interests as well as any favorite genres, books, authors, etc. I refer to this list to gain ideas of which books to deliver to students in the mailbox. 


2 - Scholastic Wish Lists

Another way that I gain additional information on the books students are interested in reading is by giving them Scholastic book flyers. I allow them to shop through the book orders and circle the books they want. Who doesn't love creating a wish list? I use their wishlists to select which books to purchase. I make sure to get at least one book on every student's wish list. (Be sure to use bonus points and select the $1 books on a student's wish list when possible!) 

The Best Way to Develop Your Students' Love of Books - Scholastic Book Flyers - The Reading Roundup

At Christmas, I wrote the younger students a letter from the elf asking the students to select books. This just added an extra element of excitement! 

The Best Way to Develop Your Students' Love of Books - Scholastic Books - The Reading Roundup

When the books arrive, I do not tell the students. Each day I randomly put a book in the special delivery envelope and put in the mailbox. This builds excitement for the students because they don't know when it will be their turn to get one of their books. They also are excited because they don't know which book(s) I've selected for them! 

Keeping Track of Book Recommendations

I use several documents to help me keep track of everything. I have a master list that tells me each students' interests and book picks. That list is helpful when selecting which book recommendations to deliver to students.

I also have other documents to keep track of book deliveries. I want to make sure that each student is receiving book recommendations. I write down the dates to make sure they all receive book suggestions within a reasonable amount of time.

The Best Way to Develop Your Students' Love of Books - Special Delivery Books FREEBIE - The Reading Roundup
Click to download the FREE recording sheets!

Delivering Book Recommendations has Made my Students Truly Love Reading

One of my 5th graders said, "I love reading now, and that is something I never said before." They beg me for more time to read. These are students who previously only pretended to read and were very resistant when it was time for independent reading. A second grader, who was a very reluctant reader, started to refuse to participate in our review games because she just wanted to read. In fact, she would have been content to miss recess to continue reading! 

The Best Way to Develop Your Students' Love of Books - The Reading Roundup

My students are truly excited about reading because they feel they have a choice in the books they read. Previously, they would complain that their teachers always tell them what to read and it was never anything that interests them. By making their voices heard and finding books tailored to their individual interests, they honestly do love reading now.

What other methods have you used to help students find the "right" book that have led them to develop of love of reading?


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The Best Way to Develop Your Students' Love of Books - The Reading Roundup



Bring the HEAT to your Book Talks

The Reading Roundup - Bring the HEAT to your Book Talks title

Hi. My name is Melissa, and I'm here to talk to you about Book Talks.... 

BORING!!


Long gone are the days of the traditional book talks. The ones where the students simply recite the same script: introduce themselves, state the book title, tell a fact about a book, and encourage the audience to check it out. Our students are way too creative for that, so we need to give them a chance to let their creativity shine through their book talks! 


Dr. Brad Gustafson, an elementary principal, encourages students to "Bring the Heat" to their book talks. His strategy moves students beyond the same old script in order to create more engaging book talks. Isn't the purpose of a book talk to spark interest and make someone want to read the book?

Check out Dr. Gustafson's YouTube video below explaining the concept of bringing the HEAT to book talks. 


Book Talks: Bring the Heat

Let's take a quick look at each of the elements of the HEAT method.

The Reading Roundup - Bring the HEAT to your Book Talks poster
Click to download the HEAT poster.

Hook

Grab the attention of the audience to make them want to know more about your book. Some ways to do that include: asking a question, stating an interesting fact, or getting the audience to imagine something. I've even had students have a snowball fight to hook in the audience!

Energy

How will you show energy in your book talk? Can you change your volume, talk with an accent, use props, or add lots of emotion? This will help create an engaging book talk for your audience.

Audience

Consider who is your audience and how can you connect with them. Why should they care about your book? It is helpful to make a connection by mentioning a place they might have been, things they might have done, or people they might know.

Time

Keep it short! The ideal book talk is less than a minute long. Teach your students the art of adding a cliffhanger to leave the audience wanting to know more. 


Scaffolding Book Talks for Students

In order to support my students with creating their own book talks, I created graphic organizers based on Dr. Brad Gustafson's Bringing the HEAT method. These scaffolds walk the students through the process in order to create more engaging book talks.


Heat Planning Guide

The first graphic organizer helps the students plan out the strategies they want to implement to make their book talk engaging. It provides suggestions and prompts for each of the HEAT elements. The QR Code leads to the YouTube video explaining how to "Bring the HEAT to Book Talks." For students who need additional support, it has sentence stems that they can fill in the blanks. (Example: Imagine  a scary event . That's what it was like for  character  in this book.)

The Reading Roundup - Bring the HEAT to your Book Talks graphic organizer
Click to download the graphic organizers!

Book Talk Rough Draft

The rough draft graphic organizer walks students through the creation of their actual script. It provides suggestions for the book introduction, talking points, and closing. Several sentence stems are also provided for students who need additional scaffolding.
The Reading Roundup - Bring the HEAT to your Book Talks graphic organizer
Click to download the graphic organizers!

Book Talk Final Draft

The last document allows students to write out their entire script. If students are working with a partner, I have each student write the exact same script on their paper. They then highlight their individual lines on the script. This just helps make it easier when rehearsing their book talk. 
The Reading Roundup - Bring the HEAT to your Book Talks graphic organizer
Click to download the graphic organizers!


Finalizing the Book Talk

Students can perform their book talks for their classmates, but I highly recommend making it into a video. My students used iPads to record their own book talks and edited them using WeVideo. Our school also has our own YouTube channel where we can post the videos. It just adds an extra level of excitement for the students.

Examples of Engaging Book Talks

Currently Dr. Brad Gustafson is hosting a Book Talk Tournament featuring 30 second Book Talks from 8 Lead Learners and 8 Literacy Legends. Check them out for some inspiring book talks to get you and your students excited to start creating your own! You can also vote in the tournament. Be sure to check out my principal, Andy Jacks, really bringing the HEAT in his book talk!

Have you implemented book talks in your classroom before? What tips and strategies have you found beneficial in help your students create engaging book talks?


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An Easy Way to Save Your Anchor Charts

An Easy Way to Save Your Anchor Charts - The Reading Roundup

Teachers LOVE using anchor charts! But we don't love how much wall-space they can take up in the classroom. Am I right? Read on to find a simple way to save your anchor charts in a way that students can still easily use them as a reference! Which isn't the point of anchor charts to have them accessible for students to refer to when needed?


* Post contains Amazon Affiliate links. *


What is the purpose of Anchor Charts?

Anchor Charts are a valuable visual for students to help them understand a specific skill, strategies, or other content. The most beneficial anchor charts are co-constructed by the teacher and students. When students are involved in creating the anchor charts, it helps them better understand and remember the content. Students are also more likely to refer to the co-created anchor charts due to their sense of ownership. 

Anchor charts are displayed around the classroom as a visual reminder of the content. Teachers refer to previously made anchor charts to build off of prior content as well as refresh students' memories. Students use the anchor charts as a reference as they gradually become more independent with the strategies highlighted in the chart.


Anchor Charts that Don't Take up as Much Wall-space

Teachers typically create and display anchor charts that correspond with their current units of study. But when you are doing that for several subject areas, the amount of anchor charts in a classroom can quickly add up! Ultimately, the purpose of the anchor charts is for students to refer back to them when necessary. They aren't always able to do that when teachers only display the current units of study.

One simple solution for keeping anchor charts easily accessible to students all year is to take pictures of your anchor charts. This is a huge help since pictures obviously take up a lot less space! Think about a large poster compared to a 5x7 picture. I found this 2 sided picture frame from Ikea, which has worked perfectly as a display!

An Easy Way to Save Your Anchor Charts - The Reading Roundup
Click to purchase the frame.


It was so simple to turn this 2-sided picture frame into an anchor chart display! 
  1.  Remove the paper and plastic from the inside of the frame. 
  2.  Print the anchor chart pictures and whole punch the top.
  3.  Add binder rings to attach the pictures to the frame.
EASY!!
An Easy Way to Save Your Anchor Charts - The Reading Roundup

Keeping Anchor Charts Accessible All Year

These anchor chart displays are perfect to keep at your guided reading table as a quick reference. If your students sit at tables or groups of desks for independent work, you may even want to make an anchor chart display for each group. This makes it easy for them to refer to the anchor charts independently when needed.

How do you display anchor charts in your classroom? How do you provide access to the anchor charts all year for your students? Share your tips in the comments below!


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The One Tool You Need to make Reading Response Digital

Make Reading Response Digital with Padlet - The Reading Roundup

Are you looking to go paperless with your reading response notebooks? Padlet is an AMAZING digital tool that makes it engaging for readers to respond to text. 


What is Padlet?

Padlet is an free online bulletin board that allows multiple contributors to post ideas, images, links, videos, and more. Teachers can use the website or the app for students to access the Padlet boards they have created.

Using Padlet to Annotate Text

Make Reading Response Digital with Padlet - The Reading Roundup
When setting up the padlet, teachers can create columns that correspond with text annotations. I created Padlet boards for each book club book with the following columns: questions, important details, and interesting facts. Rather than annotating text using post-it notes, students can type their responses into the shared Padlet. 

Students can also comment on the ideas posted by other students! For example - one student asked a question about an unidentified character in the book. Another student responded in the comments with new details to help figure out that character's identity.


Using Padlet to Track Characters

Make Reading Response Digital with Padlet - The Reading Roundup
When reading chapter books, students can struggle to keep track of all of the characters. I created a Padlet that had columns for each of the main characters and a column for new characters. As students found additional information about each character or met a new character, they could add it to the Padlet. It was a visual way for students to easily remember what they knew about the characters.

Additional Benefits of Using Padlet for Reading Response

  • Students can easily collaborate with other students who are reading the same book. 
  • Students can immediately see new ideas on their device as other students contribute to the board.
  • Displaying the Padlet on the Smartboard leads to more student accountability and encourages them to take the activity seriously.
  • Students can respond to other students ideas in the comments. They can also like each other's comments - which adds a whole new element of excitement for them!
  • There is an option for students to add pictures, so they can take a picture of their evidence from the text. 
  • Teachers can customize the backgrounds of the Padlet boards. This is helpful when multiple books are being discussed at once. Different backgrounds make it easier to quickly distinguish which book is being discussed.
Make Reading Response Digital with Padlet - The Reading Roundup


Setting up Padlet for Reading Response

The following video provides step-by-step instructions for setting up Padlet boards for reading response.



These are only a few ways that I've used Padlet with my students, but there are limitless options for other ways to use it. How else could you use Padlet for reading response? Are there other digital tools you use for your students to response to text? Please share your ideas in the comments below!


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Are you looking to go paperless with your reading response notebooks? Padlet is an AMAZING digital tool that makes it engaging for readers to respond to text and collaborate with others.

Reader's Theater is NOT Just for Fluency Practice

The Reading Roundup - Reader's Theater is NOT Just for Fluency Practice

Reader's Theater is an extremely effective strategy for fluency practice. It allows students to practice reading fluently in an authentic manner. But there are so many other skills you can teach using Reader's Theater! 


5 Alternative Ways to use Reader's Theater

Read to find out some ways I've used Reader's Theater with my students to work on more than just fluency practice. By focusing on these other skills, it improves the students' overall comprehension and leads to a more expressive and fluent final performance of the script!

Reader's Theater to Identify the Setting of a Story

Have your students look through the script to identify the parts of the story which refer to the setting. After reading those parts, write down the adjectives used to describe the setting and decide where the story takes place. The students can then use Google images to find photos of each setting which best match the description. These photos can be added to a green screen app or simply displayed on your Smart board as the students perform. 
The Reading Roundup - Reader's Theater is NOT Just for Fluency Practice


Reader's Theater for Vocabulary Development

Sometimes students are unfamiliar with some of the words in the Reader's Theater scripts. You can use this as an opportunity to practice using context clues to determine the meaning of those words. Not only are there words they do not know the meaning of, they may find words that are hard for them to pronounce. You may want to work with the students to find synonyms for these words but that students can accurately read.


Reader's Theater to Teach Comprehension

Reader's Theater is a great opportunity for students to practice making inferences about the characters. Many scripts offer a moral of the story. The students tend to find it easier to identify the moral of a Reader's Theater script, because they are more personally invested in the story compared to just reading a passage out of a text. 

Reader's Theater to Analyze Character Traits

We spend a majority of our work with Reader's Theater analyzing the characters. Take the time to identify the character traits and have students provide text evidence to support their inferences. Encourage students to think about how their character must be feeling in the story. I even have students draw faces in the margins based on how their character is feeling. This is a great reminder to add the appropriate expression when performing the script!

The Reading Roundup - Reader's Theater is NOT Just for Fluency Practice

Reader's Theater for Writing Practice

There are many opportunities to use Reader's Theater for writing practice. Allow students to rewrite some of their lines or change the ending. In fact, you may even want to have your students write an entire script themselves! 


What are some other ways you've used Reader's Theater with your students? Please share them in the comments below!


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The Reading Roundup - Reader's Theater is NOT Just for Fluency Practice

Successful Tips for Using the Beanie Baby Decoding Strategies

The Reading Roundup - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies Tips

The Beanie Baby Reading Strategies have made a tremendous impact on my students' ability to successfully decode unknown words independently. If you didn't see Part 1 of my post in which I introduce the strategies, check it out here.


Since I have found these strategies to be highly effective with my students, I want to share my tips with you to hopefully help your students find the same success!


The Reading Roundup - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies Posters
The Reading Roundup - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies Tips

Steps for Introducing the Beanie Baby Reading Strategies
With all of the strategies, I use the following steps to introduce and practice the strategy.
1.     Model the strategy on a shared book or in the guided reading book for your lesson.
2.     Display the corresponding poster to use as a reference. (See picture above)
3.     Practice the strategy together.
4.     Encourage students to try it on their own while they read the guided reading book.
5.     Place the Beanie Babies on the guided reading table as the students read independently as a reminder of the strategies. (See picture above)
6.     Prompt students when they get stuck on a word to practice identifying which strategy they think would help. Support students as they attempt to use the strategy. Make sure they physically grab the Beanie Baby that they want to try using because it helps them take ownership of the strategy.
7.     After the students have finished reading the book, highlight the students who used the decoding strategies. Explain to the group how the student used the strategy to successfully decode the unknown word. Eventually through enough modeling, the students will be able to explain it themselves. I also like to hand students the Beanie Babies that represent the strategies they used. It is a tactile reminder of the strategies, but it also acts as a reward for students as they get excited to hold the Beanie Babies.


The Reading Roundup - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies Tips

Other Helpful Tips for Implementation
  • I sent out emails to my parents asking if they had any of the Beanie Babies at home. Luckily, I was able to get all of them that way! You may also want to check out Amazon, Ebay, or thrift stores to find yours. Having the actual Beanie Babies is a key factor to their effectiveness.
  • The key is having a tool for the students to physically manipulate when they are stuck on a word. Even if you can't find the actual Beanie Babies, I strongly recommend having something to represent each strategy. (Another option are the strategy sticks as show above).This adds a hands on approach that helps students take more ownership of the strategy, thus enabling them to independently implement the strategy. 
  • Once I've began introducing the strategies, I begin each guided reading lesson with a quick review. I ask the students to tell me what they are going to do if they get stuck on a word. They must tell me the strategy and not just the name of the Beanie Baby. Once they've identified a strategy, I toss them the corresponding Beanie Baby. This simple warm up activity gets them excited to read and helps build their confidence that they will be able to figure out any unknown words they encounter.
  • It is important to constantly have students verbalize the strategies to youThey must tell you the decoding strategy and NOT just the name of the Beanie Baby. For example - they should say "I can stretch out the word" and not "Stretchy Snake." When they get stuck on a word, ask them to explain what they can try. If a student has successfully implemented the strategies to decode an unknown word, ask him/her to explain what they did. By having them orally explain the strategy to you, they begin to internalize it more. 
  • The Beanie Babies are just a scaffold. Once my students can verbally explain to me the strategies and independently implement them, I no longer use the actual Beanie Babies. The posters remain up all year for students to refer to, but as a result of our extensive work practicing the strategies at the beginning of the year they rarely need to refer to the posters. 


Make sure you check out Part 1 of this post to get a more in depth introduction to all of the Beanie Baby Decoding Strategies! Click here to read Part 1!


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The Reading Roundup - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies Tips

The Secret to Teaching Students How to Decode

The Reading Roundup - Decoding Secret Title
If I had to name the one teaching strategy that has been the most effective in helping my students with decoding, it would be the Beanie Baby Reading Strategies! Hands down - without question! Because of these strategies, my students are able to verbally explain what to do when they're stuck on a word and independently make attempts at decoding unknown words.

Maybe you're already familiar with the Beanie Baby Reading Strategies or maybe you have no idea what I'm talking about. But hopefully by my sharing what has worked for me, you'll find some new ideas to try in your guided reading lessons.

The Beanie Baby Reading Strategies for Decoding

Before I tell you how I use the Beanie Baby decoding strategies, let me first introduce you to our friends! 

Here's a snapshot of our 9 Beanie Baby Decoding Strategies:
The Reading Roundup - Decoding Secret - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies


Introducing the Beanie Baby Reading Strategies to Students

I introduce one strategy at a time to provide students with ample opportunities to practice and remember the strategy. With Kindergarten and 1st grade, I typically introduce one strategy a week. This depends on their ability to start implementing the strategy independently. A strategy such as Eagle Eye, typically does not require as much practice. With 2nd graders, I'm able to introduce a couple strategies a week as it is just a review for them.


he Reading Roundup - Decoding Secret - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies - Eagle Eye
I always introduce Eagle Eye first. I explain to the students that he helps us by looking at the picture. We can use the clues in the picture to figure out the unknown word. He is the easiest one to start with since students naturally tend to look at the picture first anyway. 


he Reading Roundup - Decoding Secret - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies - Lips the Fish
Lips the Fish is the second strategy I introduce as it is also relatively easy for students to begin implementing. Lips the Fish gets his lips ready for the first sound of the word. We practice by covering up the endings of words to use the inital sounds to figure out what the word might be. I also refer back to Eagle Eye if they aren't able to decode the word with just the initial sound. This keeps the previously taught strategy fresh in their mind, but also shows them how the strategies can work together to help us.


The Reading Roundup - Decoding Secret - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies - Stretchy Snake
Stretchy Snake is one of their favorite strategies! He stretches out the word and helps them sound it out. We practice by stretching out the snake Beanie Baby as we sound out CVC words. I also provide each student with a slinky to practice sounding out the word. Adding this hands on element helps the students internalize the strategy. It is important to remind the students that they must put the sounds together after stretching it out to determine the word (Say C-A-T: cat).


The Reading Roundup - Decoding Secret - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies - Meaning Bird
I always teach Meaning Bird next. In the past, I found that some students would overly depend on Stretchy Snake. They would sound out words but when they put the sounds together it did not make sense. As a result, I created Meaning Bird who reminds us to think about what word would make sense. 


The Reading Roundup - Decoding Secret - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies - Chunky Monkey
Chunky Monkey is another student favorite! She helps looks for known "chunks" in the words. This can be smaller words within larger words (an is in can), blends/digraphs (sh is at the end of fish), or endings (-s, -ing, -ed). The students will quickly notice that these chunks don't always help them decode the unknown word. (Example: They may notice so and me in some but that does not help them read the word). These words are a great opportunity to teach students how the strategies can work together as well as remind them to think about what word would make sense. (The book There's an Ant in Anthony is a great tool to help with this skill). affiliate link


The Reading Roundup - Decoding Secret - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies - Skippy the FrogThe Reading Roundup - Decoding Secret - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies - Tryin' Lion
I typically teach Skippy the Frog and Tryin' Lion together. Skippy the Frog skips an unknown word, while Tryin' Lion encourages students to reread and try a word that makes sense and looks right. I tell students that these are buddies that like to work together. We talk about how we can't skip a word forever because then our story will not make sense. They must go back to reread and try a word that would make sense.


The Reading Roundup - Decoding Secret - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies - Flippy the Dolphin
Flippy the Dolphin is the last Beanie Baby I introduce as it requires students to have a knowledge of short and long vowel sounds. Flippy the Dolphin flips the vowel sound. If the word is "pot" we would sound it out with the short vowel sound p-o-t and the long vowel sound p-o-t-e. Then we talk about which word would make sense in the sentence. When we flip the vowel sound, we literally flip the dolphin Beanie Baby as the hands on approach makes it more concrete to the students.


The Reading Roundup - Decoding Secret - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies - Helpful Kangaroo
The final Beanie Baby Strategy is Helpful Kangaroo, which teaches students to ask for help. I honestly never introduce this strategy to my students because I want them to independently implement the other strategies and not rely on me to help them with the word.

The Reading Roundup - Decoding Secret - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies Bulletin Board

As I introduce the strategies, I display the posters for students to refer to during guided reading.
The Reading Roundup - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies Posters

Want to know more tips and tricks to successfully use the Beanie Baby Reading Strategies to teach your students how to independently decode unknown words? Check out Part 2 of my Post!


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The Reading Roundup - Decoding Secret - Beanie Baby Reading Strategies