Boost Your Reading Block


Over the years, I have structured my Reading Block in so many different ways.  My classroom has been the testing ground for everything from the Four Blocks Model to Literacy Stations to Daily 5 to Reading Workshop. And for every system I’ve tried, there are parts that work wonderfully for my students and parts that just don’t click.  (Most likely due to user error, of course!)  But each time I ventured into a new format, I’d keep some parts that worked well and add on something new.  Mix that with ideas from fellow teachers, ideas based on what my kids needed, and simply trying to survive, and you’ve got my current Reading Block!  (Which, by the way, I LOVE!)

My Reading Block Goals

* effective in growing readers (and writers)
* focused on reading comprehension
* engaging for students
* self-differentiating
* easy to adapt for different classes or time constraints
* meaningful work for students
* REAL reading and writing
* easy to manage!

reading block read rotations

I’m not a fan of literacy stations or centers (don’t stone me!) and here’s why: the kids spend too much time doing contrived tasks in the name of practicing isolated skills.  And on top of that, stations take a ton of preparation work for teachers, require a lot of materials, and use up a lot of learning time as you teach new stations.  I want my students doing the REAL work of readers and writers.  Not only have I found this to be the most effective way to boost achievement, but I also find it’s the best way to keep kids engaged.

The rotations I use in my classroom give me a simple way to manage the kids and resources while they do REAL reading and writing work.  I call them READ Rotations, partly because I like to say, “It’s time to READ!” rather than “It’s time for Rotations,” but also because the acronym fits with activities I want to see my kids doing.  And mainly, I want to see them reading, talking about reading, listening to reading, and writing about reading.

My rotations take a few weeks to launch but require little up keep.  Once I’ve taught the kids how we do each rotation, the only thing that changes is the books they are reading and writing about.

For each task, I make sure to teach, model, practice, and give feedback.  I start by teaching the purpose for the rotation and how it will help them become better readers.  I model what the task SHOULD look like, and what it SHOULD NOT look like.  We create anchor charts together of potential problems and how they could be solved.  The goal is for students to have a clear vision of what the work should look like and then give kids time to try it and refine it before they are expected to do it independently.




Teach the Choices Carefully



Read On Your Own
Here’s where kids spend time reading those on-level, just-right books, to build their fluency and apply the comprehension strategies we’ve been working on.  For more information on how I run “Read on Your Own,” as well as tips for setting up Book Choice Tubs, check out my post on Independent Reading Time.

Eyes and Ears
This is when kids spend time listening to reading.  It might be by reading with partner, reading on the computer, reading along with books on CD, or reading with other technology such as Ipads or tablets.  During this time, kids can explore texts beyond their independent reading level because they have the extra support of a partner or some form of technology.

At Your Seat
My kids LOVE “At Your Seat” work because it’s when they get to be creative and “make stuff.”  During this time, students respond to their reading in writing.  The kids create books, do research projects, write in their reading journals, and apply comprehension strategies.

Discuss With a Group
I use a mixture of Guided Reading and Book Clubs during this rotation.  My end goal is to empower students to lead their own Book Club discussions.  In the beginning, students use Book Club Questions to guide the conversation, but higher groups eventually lose the need for such scaffolding. I love this format because the kids really take ownership of the discussion and it allows me more flexibility in meeting with students during rotations.  In the beginning of the year, I stay at the table for “Discuss With a Group,” but as the groups take the lead, I am able to sneak away and meet with struggling students for one on one instruction.

reading block reading comprehension


This year, I decided to make some materials to go with my READ Rotations.  If you’re interested in trying this out, take peek at the product preview for more details!  I’ve included posters, guides, launching plans, a slide show for students, and printables to help you launch READ Rotations in your own classroom.

READ Rotations
Boost reading comprehension with READ Rotations!

And just to give you the big picture, my Reading Block begins with a 15-20 minute whole class lesson.  The whole group lesson includes modeling and guided or shared practice of the skill or strategy.  As the lesson ends, students begin their first rotation and we switch every 15 minutes.  My entire Reading Block is about 80 minutes.

I’d love to hear more ideas for maximizing this time of day!  Feel free to share in the comments.

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11 thoughts on “Boost Your Reading Block

  1. Hanna

    Hi! I really like these ideas for reading rotations and am contemplating using them for my 2nd graders this year. I was wondering if you could give me some more information on what your students do during “at your seat” time and how/when you instruct them on how to complete those tasks as well as how you assess the tasks.

    1. Teacher Trap Post author

      Hi Hanna! My “At Your Seat” time changes during the course of the school year depending on what we’re learning about. For example, our first unit is “Fiction,” so “At Your Seat” time is used for students to write their own fiction stories and publish their “books.” I also have students write in Reading Response Journals each week, and this is done during “At Your Seat.” As the year progresses, they might work on personal narrative projects, research projects, and other forms of reading response. Occasionally, I will also use this time to have students finish work that we started during a mini-lesson. I hope that helps! 🙂

  2. Teina

    Thank you so much for sharing – Ive been support teaching for the last 5 years and am going back into classroom teaching .I love the READ acronym and how you’ve pulled it together – Ive just had all these wonderful ideas popping in my head of how to run literacy ,differentiate and have engaged students.

    1. Teacher Trap Post author

      Great to hear, Teina! Good luck with your teaching adventures! I’d love to hear what you come up with. 🙂

  3. Emily

    This is great, and I definitely want to try something like this in my class next year. When students meet with their book clubs, are they all reading/discussing the same book, or are they discussing things from their “read on your own time?” If they are all reading the same book, when are they doing this reading?

    1. Teacher Trap Post author

      Hi Emily! When I do Book Clubs I assign certain titles to each group. I make sure they are on-level for the group with just a bit of challenge and that the books are high-interest! Students include their assigned title with their other books during “Read On Your Own” and then discuss during “Discuss With a Group.” When I first introduce Book Clubs, I usually teach the routine separately for a month or so, where students read and then discuss within a chunk of time (20 minutes-ish). This just helps them get to know the process. Later, we weave it into READ Rotations. You can read more about Book Clubs in this post: I hope that helps! Good luck out there!

  4. Sarah

    I’m shifting gears this school year and moving back to elementary (4th and 5th) from high school! I love the idea of your reading block! When you say you do mini lessons before hand, does this include your grammar and writing instruction time or is that a separate block in your room? Also, do all the students rotate through each station every day? Thanks!

  5. Holly

    I love your way of thinking and the set ups! I’ve purchased your reading block packet from Teachers pay Teachers and will use it next year! Thank you! I found you by accident and am very glad I did!

  6. Esther

    Our school teaches (and tests-comprehension, Vocab, skills) from a basal reader. Do you think there is a way to use this in my classroom and still get everything in? Our reading blocks are 90 minutes and I NEVER get finished with everything I want to do in a day!!! Thank you for your help!

  7. Mary Ann

    I may be asking a silly question, but do you have reading groups with the kids? If so, when do you do that? I love, love, love what you’re doing and want to implement with my first graders. However, I’m expected to have reading groups, too. Do you do that once your rotations are up and running? Thank you SO much!