Each summer I spend time reflecting on the previous year and thinking about changes I'll make when back to school time rolls around again. Of course I spend a lot of time relaxing and enjoying summer break, but I personally find it easier to relax once I have a solid plan for the following year. Then I can turn off my teacher brain for a little while! If you're doing the same thing right now, here are my favorite literacy tips and activities for your first week of school, plus a few year-long essentials for your literacy block.
How To Start Your Literacy Block
First of all, if you aren't sure where to start with your literacy block, this literacy post is packed with details on how I organize our literacy workshop lessons, centers, and groups for the entire year. Once your student learn these routines, it's much easier to make the most of your literacy time because you'll have fewer management issues!
As we ease into our literacy block, I use these school-themed riddle task cards that combine critical thinking and making inferences in a fun and no prep language arts activity! I love using these in centers or during morning meeting during the first few weeks of school. They aren't super difficult, which is perfect for teaching students independent routines!
Make Time for Fluency
I am super passionate about oral reading fluency, which is why it’s one of the very first “reading skills” I teach at the beginning of the year. Fluency is crucial for comprehension, so we practice it daily all year long. I shared this post packed with reading fluency research and week of FREE fluency lessons plans.
This post with 10 fluency-building tips is also a great resource for planning your fluency centers and independent practice beyond those first weeks of school. If you also need fluency task cards to pop into your centers and activities, I have both skill-based bundles and seasonal sets that will keep the routine familiar (but also fresh!) all year long.
Reinforce Reading Skills
This FREE quick reference guide is an incredibly valuable, must-have resource for your classroom. It gives your students access to reminders about so many reading skills, right at their fingertips. I use it as part of a reading toolkit, which I shared more about in this post.
While upper elementary students are familiar with most reading skills by name, it's time to really dig deeper into how those skills work together for comprehension. I created a rigorous and engaging way to incorporate a daily review of key reading skills with my Reading Skill of the Day Weekly Journal. This is perfect to implement right from the start as part of your classroom routines!
Each week covers a new skill in a fun and engaging way. The variation in skill practice allows students to see the skills differently and get tons of valuable reading practice. Best of all, almost all of the tasks can be completed in five minutes or less, making this a super easy resource to incorporate into your literacy block or as morning work. This post has more details about getting started, or you can just jump right in and grab the bundle on TPT.
Reach Visual Learners
Another passion of mine is using pictures to teach. So many students are visual learners and this bundle of resources really grabs their attention! Reading skills, figurative language, parts of speech and more are all included. Students observe a picture and make inferences, ask questions, make predictions, etc. They practice a wide variety of reading skills based on the picture AND apply the reading skill to a short passage. I’ve shared several posts with tips for implementing pictures in your classroom, but Part 1 and Part 2 are great places to start.
Rigorous Review Bundle
Finally, this ultimate reading skill review bundle for the ENTIRE YEAR is the perfect way to keep your students' reading skills sharp OR to help you teach the skills. It can be used in centers, small groups, whole class, or as homework to review essential informational text comprehension skills and standards. The same question is never asked twice and skills are never reviewed in the same way, so students will stay engaged and excited about the content. Seriously! Fiction. Informational Text. Figurative Language. Grammar. It’s alllll covered.
I hope these literacy tips make your next back-to-school season your best one yet! A solid foundation now can make a big difference in your literacy instruction all year long. Looking for more tips? This post has my FREE first week of school lesson plans. You can also join us in our FREE Inspired In Upper Elementary Facebook group, where we're always chatting about new ideas in education.