Ten Tips for Teaching Reading Online

Well, the pandemic is still in full force! Most of us are teaching online, at least to some students or on some days. Let me help by sharing ten tips for teaching reading online with you!


1. Go Old School

Yes, there are tons of technology that you can use,  and I will give you some helpful websites below. But don't forget old school strategies! During my reading intervention sessions online, white boards, magnet letters, (or parents could print out letters from a PDF I sent) paper and pencils came in really handy! I also used sight word cards at times and just held them up to the camera. This I would use alternatively with digital flash cards to keep it varied and fun.
At times, I'd just hold up a CVC picture and say the word, like "jet", and have kids spell the words with their magnetic or paper letters. They'd also do mix and fix with their letters or white board spelling with markers /paper and pencil.

2. Create and Communicate Meeting Guidelines

Don't worry about making them up yourself! I don't have any in my store yet, but lots of folks have free or low cost editable or non editable guidelines you can grab at Teachers Pay Teachers. If you want to make your own they don't need to be fancy. A simple Google Doc or slide is fine. Personally, I'd recommend showing them and reviewing them briefly at the beginning of each meeting until everyone gets the hang of things.

3. Give yourself Permission to Make Mistakes

It will NOT be perfect. There is just no way. Be kind and patient to yourself. Mistakes will happen. You can learn from them! 

4. Know there WILL be Technical Difficulties

Some teachers at my school have been trying to squeeze in practice sessions, with fellow teachers acting as possible students. This has been especially interesting to staff who are going to asked to teach live students while live streaming at the same time! During my online reading lessons, most sessions had at least one one technical problem such as kids not being able to get in, kids saying they couldn't hear or see, me not being able to share my screen, etc. After a week or two, I just realized I would be allotting about 2-5 minutes every session for troubleshooting. This just helped me calm down and be less stressed about it.

5. Have a policy or routine for missed sessions

Learn from my mistakes! I didn't have a policy for missed reading sessions. Sometimes parents would ask to make them up, or I would offer to make them up. Which was NICE, but... I found that about 50% of the time if I had a make up session, the students would not be there. This year I am going to just say no makeup sessions. If students miss, they miss. I always email parents updates with links to the book on Raz Kids, etc., after sessions regardless so students can at least read the book they missed!


6. Raz Kids

This website has leveled fiction and non fiction texts, reader's theatres and more! Raz Kids Plus is what our district has so students I worked with could go on again that night or the next day and reread the book which was great! I would share my screen for book previews and reading synchonrously too and it worked really well.

7. Book Widgets (free trial, then a monthly cost)

This website was really fun for me. They gave me free use in the spring but now the free trial is shorter. There are many things to try (think Flippity) like matching games, hidden pictures, random spinners and more!

8. Fountas and Pinnell

If your school uses Fountas and Pinnell, you should have access to online resources for whatever resource your district has purchased, such as Classroom, BAS  (benchmark assessment system) or LLI. We do not have classroom but there are online BAS resources (no  book though :( ) and all their LLI (Leveled Literacy Intervention) are online! I would share these books with students during Google Meets for just right practice at their levels. Students don't have online access of their own though - a downside. Plenty of teacher resources though.

9. ReadWorks (free)

A coworker of mine recommends ReadWorks, and particularly their Article of the Day.  There are online assessments with ReadWorks, but heads up, many of them teachers have to grade manually. Their content is ready to print too!

10. Epic (free)

Epic has trade books for all your students. Teachers get a class code and they can have students log in and read books (think Eric Carle, Big Nate, Splat the Cat and more such as non-fiction), listen to books, and watch videos (you can turn those off). Parents do need to sign their kids up for a home account (free 30 day trial) and then they can connect with the classroom Epic account,  but otherwise the students lose access to the site after the end of the school day. 

Is there a tip you'd like to add to my ten tips for teaching reading online? Let me know in the comments below!

Books to Use When Teaching Parts of Speech

Cover image of bookshelf

Books to Teach Parts of Speech

I like to find as many ways as possible to make things fun in school. Teaching some topics can be a little blah, so I love using books to teach parts of speech! The following images can all be clicked on and you can get more info at Amazon, but these are some of my favorites! 


Julia Cook is known for her books that present SEL topics in a way that students can connect with. This one, It's Hard to be a Verb, where a child has trouble controlling his body and calming it down. Definitely worth a look!
cover of It's Hard to be a Verb books


Brian Cleary has been one of my favorite authors of kids' non-fiction texts! These books have cute, fun pictures, and are engaging due to their fun rhyming sentences. They are great read alouds and easy to incorporate into reading workshop lessons too.

A Mink, a Fink, A skating rink book         


Michael Dahl is new to me, but I found his cute and fun books about parts of speech that all are titled: "If you were a ". Check out the cute covers below.


Ruth Heller is known for her gorgeous illustrations. Did you know she also has written several books focused on parts of speech? Below are just three books that use beautiful language to share and teach students.
Up, up and away cover
Many Luscious Lollipops cover               Merry go Round book  


These books are a neat way to discuss and read about nouns, verbs and collective nouns with students!

  ..         Collective Nouns


My second graders LOVED doing MadLibs! They really cemented their understanding of parts of speech after a few months work on MadLibs as a class. Also there was at some point (hopefully still is ) a free Mad Libs app! Give it a try.
                                 Mad Libs Junior cover      Mad Libs cover 2 

So these are some my top picks for books to teach parts of speech. What is your favorite?
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How do Interactive Notebooks Keep Students Engaged?

INB sample page

How Interactive Notebooks Keep Students Engaged


It's in the title! They are interactive and kids are not just reading and checking things off or writing a one word answer. Let's peek at an example. Here in this activity for types of sentences, students cut out the flap book, cut the flaps and use their knowledge of what each type of sentence is (or turn back to the previous INB (interactive notebook) page that reminds them). Then they find a sentence in their text that matches and record it under the flap. Students are reading, referring, cutting, glueing, remembering, searching, and writing!
Types of sentences INB page


Yep, interactive notebooks have a good amount of variety compared to traditional "seat work" (as Ramona Quimby calls it in Ramona the Pest). Look at the options: flap books, cut and sort, brainstorms, hunts/searches, and foldables!

INB samplesINB samples


Simply put, INBS are pretty engaging! I saw it for five years with my own second graders. They got to work faster, stayed on task longer, and were more engaged with activities like these fun foldables which kind of fool them into working, when it seems just fun! Also, the sentences and option included are often interesting to students, such as sentences about relatives visiting, Halloween, sports, school, and cats and dogs!

capital letter hunt INB page


For more a visual bang, you can copy them on Astrobrights like I did for my second graders, or even using white paper, the visuals are clean and clear. Some pages are coloring friendly too and explicitly say to color in something after you fill it in. INBs can vary in style, but for the ones I create, I like to keep the font easy to read and use simple shapes and borders and avoid clip art that clutters the visuals. Students can get distracted, and though I love fonts, we don't want them to lose focus because of a font, cluttered page or crazy border.

setting INB page


INBs are a fun change for student compared to a traditional print-and-go worksheet like the one below from my Now and Ben supplemental resources for Journeys week 30. For the nouns / not nouns flap book, students cut out words and glue then under the correct label. Possibly more interesting than the activity on the left.

Adjectives and adverbs page from Now and Ben resourcesnouns and not nouns INB page

Do you think those characteristics of interactive notebooks would keep students engaged, too? If so, check out these 5 INB options (or comment and let me know a favorite you have seen!).

Dos and Don'ts of Teaching Phonics

Teaching phonics can be overwhelming, especially for newer teachers, those of you who just changed grade level, or if you don't have a program in place. So, to help, let's talk the do's and don't of teaching phonics!


Let's go over the don'ts first!

Don't be Boring

Haha, right? Obviously! There are so many awesome ways to make phonics fun and engaging! Games, hands-on activities and more. Check out all my ideas here at this blog post called Fun Ways to Practice Phonics.

Here's a couple of  examples I do with my first and second graders. Magnetic letters seem basic but they love it! Pom poms, Play Doh, buttons and more are great ways to make it fun too!

Don't Skip the Review

If you have a phonics program at your school such as Fundations or Words their Way, they will incorporate review. If not, I'd recommend each week you spend at least some time over the course of 2-3 days (if you do a phonics lesson daily, which I also recommend) incorporate review words and patterns.

Don't NOT have a Plan

If you use a phonics program, a weekly and yearly schedule will be outlined for you. If not, you need to plan ahead because you will need to teach it systematcially (see the Dos section). Whitney at First Grade Roundup has a detailed explanation  of her weekly phonics plans at this blog post that might help you!


Use Different Modalities

This can be part of making it fun! Students can talk, speak, write, draw, use manipulatives (Wikki Stix, buttons, beads, Play Doh, Magnets, write letters in shaving cream and so much more!

Have a Plan and be sure to Review

I am not going to repeat myself here because I have given you some info in the Don't section. Check back up there.

Teach Syllabication Rules

Simply, make sure you teach students eventually (maybe first or second grade, but every learner is unique) syllabication rules so that they can decode multisyllabic words. Freebies are available to help you and students. Just search "syllables" or "syllabication" on TPT.

Teach it Systematically and Explicitly 

To teach systematically, it means using a specific scope and sequence. So for beginning readers who are prepared to learn short vowels, you don't want to teach assorted word families like -all or -ate . You start with short a words like cat and bat and move on. Lessons would start out easier and gradually became more complex, including review!

Teaching explicitly means you directly instruct students about letters first and words and spelling patterns. Use clear information and thinking aloud and to help students attain strategies for reading and writing.

Teach it in Multiple Ways

Yes, teaching your regular phonics lessons and addressing it during Guided Reading or small group instruction is essential, but, also use stories and other literacy activities to incorporate phonics activities and help students make connections!

Make it fun!

Head over to my blog post for a bunch of ideas, but you can also try the word riddles I create called Mystery Words! Here is an example of a freebie focused on double consonants. If you grab it, and can leave short feedback, I'd appreciate it! Clicking on the image will bring you to it on TPT.