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!

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