Basal? Say and spray? Reading Street? Model Curriculum Units from DESE? What format lets me differentiate my reading instruction the most?

Readers’ Workshop has been the structure I’ve used for reading instruction for almost fifteen years. Here’s how I’ve been implementing it recently:

  • Book Talk (2-3 minutes) – After modeling and analyzing my book talks for the first couple weeks of school, I turn it over to students. I used to have them create a quick commercial for their chosen book and write it on an index card, but more recently, it was much more casual and spontaneous with students sharing their recommendations orally. I aimed to type all of the book talks by the end of the year (great job for family volunteers) to create a book of recommendations for summer reading.
  • Minilesson (15 minutes) – In my early years of teaching, my minilessons weren’t so mini because I included a lesson-specific read aloud in my lesson. Once I separated the read aloud from the minilesson or at least just read a page of mentor text instead of the whole thing, the lessons became much tighter. Realizing that mastery was NOT the expectation of the minilesson also freed me from staying on the rug until everyone had a solid understanding.
  • Small group work/guided reading/one-on-one conferences (at least 30 minutes) – I have always allowed my students to choose the books they read during reading. The only unit in which students’ reading selections aligned with the topic of the unit that I can think of was poetry. Even in that unit, however, students often didn’t read exclusively poetry. When I taught primary, I did literacy stations during “Language Study” so that students still had guided reading and independent reading.
  • Share (5-10 minutes) – The share is often my favorite part of the class because students reflect on their learning and strengthen the reading community. Metacognition is a big feature of my classroom.



Clueless about how to “Show, Don’t Tell” in writing?  Revisit our anchor chart:

Online poetry anthologies:

Ms. Vigna LOVES these poets:

Six Traits: Ideas Poster

Six Traits: Ideas Rubric

Improving your writing:


In my class, language study was mostly comprised of: vocabulary, grammar, fluency, and conventions.

Looking for some ways to practice the words on your personal spelling words list?  Try one of these:

  • Rainbow Spelling – Write your spelling words using a different color for each letter.
  • Pipecleaner Spelling – Write your spelling words using pipecleaners that you have shaped into the correct letters.
  • Alphabetical Order Spelling – Write your spelling words in alphabetical order.
  • Stamp Spelling – Write your spelling words using stamp letters.
  • Stencil Spelling – Write your spelling words using stencils.
  • Yarn Spelling – Write your spelling words using a very long piece of yarn on carpet.
  • Whiteboard Spelling – Write your spelling words on your whiteboard using Ms. Vigna’s dry erase markers.
  • Magic Erase Spelling – Write your spelling words on the Magic Erase board.
  • Silly Sentence Spelling – Write silly sentences where the first letter in each word starts with the letters in the spelling word.
  • Magazine Spelling – Using a magazine, circle or highlight the letters of your spelling words.
  • Backwriting Spelling – Write your spelling words on your partner’s back.  Have your partner guess each word as you spell it.
  • Magnetic Letter Spelling – Write your spelling words using the magnetic letters.

4 responses to “Reading/Writing

  1. LOVE all your spelling ideas! I think my students would really enjoy “Rainbow Spelling” and “Silly Sentence Spelling” – I’ll have to add them to my Spelling Cafe options! Creativity is flowin’ up there in the penthouse!


    i love every thing we do in class every day !!!!!!!!!!!!** Keep up the good work Ms.Vigna !!!!!!! U R #1

  3. kaitlyn ferreira

    I put the leveled book list on my book marks bar. very good page!

  4. nice site ms.vigna

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