096: 11 Tips for Summer Reading Success

Summer reading is such a touchy topic. It’s hard to get buy-in for all parties [parents and students] and consistency in a busy summer.

If you know me, you know I’m a quota and timer hater when it comes to reading. Anything that can create resentment or cause students to find reading to be a chore or dislike reading is a No-Go in my book.

Today, I have ideas to help you and your students not only read this summer but love it too.


As teachers, we often struggle with what to do about getting our students to actually read during the summer.

Sending home work packets, requiring reading logs, and most other traditional methods simply don't work. The only way to ensure your students will read over the summer is if our students have acquired a love of reading during the school year. I hope your students have made the leap from knowing how to read to being committed readers. But if they...

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#091: 5 Steps to Successful Small Group Reading Instruction

reading teaching reading Apr 14, 2022

Are you frustrated with your small group reading instruction?

Or maybe you don’t do small group reading instruction. Don’t worry…no judgment here if you don’t. Teaching small groups can be a tricky [and sometimes overwhelming] thing to navigate much less figure out how to fit it into an already packed literacy block.


Whether you haven’t done small groups or if you’re frustrated with your small group time, it’s never too late in the year to start or refine a small group time.

So where do you begin?

Well, the first 2 steps might seem basic, but they are important foundations for success.

First, structure your literacy block with a large enough block of time for independent work/group time. If your literacy block is not actually a block of time but is fragmented in your day, try to set up your schedule to capture a couple of larger chunks of time for literacy so that...

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#045: Growing a Love for Reading with Jodie Rodriguez from Growing Book by Book

Do your families struggle to support their child's literacy at home? Is weeding out the best books out of the sea of books exhausting? Help is here!


You know literacy is my passion, and in today's episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with a kindred soul.

Today's guest is Jodie Rodriguez from Growing Book By Book.  Jodie has been an educator for over 20 years teaching the little ones through adults.  She had worked as a Reading Specialist, Literacy Coach, Curriculum Coordinator, Federal Programs Coordinator, and Head of School. 

Her focus is on what really matters when teaching young readers and connecting home and school for awesome literacy growth. With two high-energy boys of her own in addition to her teaching experience, you KNOW she gets what really works to grow readers.

Listen in. 

In this episode, find out: 
  • Why Jodie...
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#035: What is Phonemic Awareness and Why Is It So Important?

Did you know…a student's phonic awareness skill is the BEST predictor of reading readiness and future reading development?


So what is phonemic awareness?

Phonemic awareness is…the ability to hear, differentiate and flexibly manipulate units of sound in spoken language. That means skills like rhyming, separating sounds, blending sounds, substituting sounds, deleting sounds or adding sounds. I know that sounds a lot like what you teach with phonics, right?! It's not the same thing and here's why...

Phonemic awareness can [and should] be taught without any paper, pencils or letters because it's all about auditory skills. You can find out more in this week's episode.

Listen in.

In this episode, find out:
  • The difference between phonemic awareness and phonics.
  • What the essential phonemic awareness skills are.
  • How to begin teaching phonemic awareness.
  • The clues that tell us a student in lacking...
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#028: The Science Behind Learning to Read [and why best practices aren't what you think]


I'm a geek! It's the truth. I can't read enough about how our brains work and how kids learn best. Our amazing brains fascinate me.

Teaching students to read is one of the most debated and misunderstood areas of education. Did you know that 1/3 of 4th graders in our country can barely read?

One of the most popular systems for teaching reading in education these days is the 3 Cueing system. So, what is this system? This is where we teach students to look at 3 information sources [meaning, structure and visual cues] to understand unknown words and make sense of a text. I have as a Reading Specialist, Resource Teacher and Reading Recovery teacher done my share of teaching this way. But, it’s all based on flawed research!

Listen in to find out how I teach literacy NOW and how much more effective it is. 

In this episode, find out:
  • What the REAL best practices are from well-replicated cognitive...
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#012: How to Effectively Teach Reading and Writing Skills in an Online or Blended Classroom Model

reading teaching Jun 18, 2020
Do you feel like you're fully prepared to teach reading and writing skills in an online or blended classroom model?

While teaching at a workshop this last weekend, I realized what a disservice is being done to teachers who still don't know what kind of teaching they'll be doing in the fall. The uncertainty of not knowing what the school model will be is stressful and exhausting. Teachers are planners. We want to be prepared. However, it feels impossible to be prepared when we don't know what we are preparing for.

Well, I'm here to tell you being prepared is something you can start to do now even if you don't know what the fall will look like. We simply have to have a plan for what to change for each teaching model. So here goes...

New Normal

I believe teaching online or in a blended school model will be the new normal for a large amount of schools around the country. We can't wait around for things to go back "to normal' because they simply won't. So, how do you make...

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#011: Instilling a Love of Reading in Kids and Families with Michelle Dunham

books reading teaching Jun 11, 2020
My guest today is Michelle Dunham from Ruby Reads. She's a mom of 3, a book aficionado, an educator and the creator of Ruby Reads where she supports families and kids by instilling a love for books and reading.

As you know, I'm a book lover and passionate about literacy and teaching students to love books and reading. I first found Michelle and Ruby Reads on Instagram @rubyreadsbooks. If you don't follow her account, do it now! You won't regret it!

We talk about how to simply create a culture of readers and book lovers in your classroom by what you read, how you pair books and the conversations you start with your students. The steps are truly simple. Like anything new, it's not always easy at first, but the more you prep and practice the easier it becomes. It all starts with a love of books, a few paired books and the heart of a teacher. 

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Here's a peek at what's inside this episode:

  • Who is Ruby and the history of that cute little red...
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#009: How to Get Your Students from Knowing HOW to Read to Becoming READERS

reading teaching May 29, 2020

Helping students become committed readers is a daunting task, at best. And while there isn't a straight path for each student to follow, there is a method that actually works. Now's the time to start planning changes to your program for the coming year to keep the reading and learning going no matter what school looks like next year.

There are important things we can do as educators that set students up to be come successful readers and committed book lovers. While we don't know exactly which combination of things will be the trigger, we do know what to do to provide the right classroom culture for it to happen.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Over the years, I've found there are certain things we should be doing to create a culture of readers and certain things we often do that inhibit the process and even have to opposite effect. 

Here's a peek at what's inside this episode:

  • What you should not be doing.
  • How to easily infuse reading and books...
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16 Simple Ways to Celebrate Read Across America Day

reading teaching Feb 27, 2020
Read Across America is coming! Get ready with these fun bookmarks. 

Making reading fun is worth giving up a little time for. Why? Once students love reading, becoming a lifelong reader becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. On that note...

Here's some fun things you can do for Read Across America Day.
  • Make fun bookmarks. [See video]
  • Read with finger lights.
  • Have a Pajama Party - Wear your pJs and bring a pillow to make reading more relaxing all day.
  • Dress up as your favorite book characters.
  • Choose picture books to read aloud for every subject all day.
  • Have older students choose books that have a character that they are like or would want to be like. Share the book and tell why or write about it.
  • Make green eggs and ham.
  • Have a book tasting in your class.
  • Read with flashlights.
  • Have a Read-a-Thon to raise money for books in your school or classroom or to raise money to give books to students in a needy school in your area.
  • Try talking in rhyming words all day.
  • Read Red Fish Blue...
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How Do You Create a Culture of Readers?

reading teaching Feb 20, 2020


Creating a reading culture in your school can be as simple as re-evaluating how you promote and talk about reading. Here's an incentive program that helps promote a culture of readers. It can be done as a class or as a school but is most effective when done school-wide. [I wish I'd thought of it, but I didn't.]

The Million Words Club 

At the elementary school my kids went to, students can read any books they choose to get to a million words read in a year. When they get there, the art teacher does a cartoon drawing of them reading and it hangs framed in the hallway until they graduate and take it home (my daughter is in college and still has hers). You could easily do a photo booth session with lots of books or something fun related to reading instead of the cartoon drawing. Students can earn ribbons to add to their framed photo for each additional year they read a million words.

The school started this program 12 years ago and it’s still going strong. The kids...

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