Yes, You can Teach Reading with a Textbook

June 28, 2018


There’s a myth going around in teacher circles that you can’t teach effectively with a textbook. I bought the hype for a few years but I changed my mindset over the last few years. I had to realize that although I love reading picture books to my class, it isn’t always a best practice.

All Students are Reading

When I’m reading a picture book to my class, all students don’t have a book in front of them. They aren’t building their reading skills but just their listening skills. My goal is to have my students reading as much as I can so a textbook is the way to go.

Texts are on Grade Level

Texts within your reading textbook are at the appropriate reading level and have themes that are appropriate for your students. I was always trying to find great picture books that met the level of my learners and it was so difficult. In second grade, many picture books that I wanted to use were way above the level of my students.

Planning is Easier

With a text already selected, I can spend less time trying to find a text and more time planning my instruction. I planned on day to day basis when I used different texts every day but now I plan ahead.

How I Make the Textbook Work for Me

Divide Texts into Smaller Sections

I divide each text into several days. Since our whole group reading time is very limited, I have students read 3-4 pages a day. To make this work, I may read several of the pages and students read the rest of the section for the day. At first, I wasn’t happy that we didn’t finish a text in a day. But now I feel like I have more time to spend diving into the text, asking questions, having discussions, and building to their text-based writing. My students seem to even comprehend the story better when we read it over several days.

Rereading and Summarizing are Crucial

Each day, my students must reread what we read together on the carpet. Even if I read part of the text, they must reread it on their own. When we read the next day’s portion of the text, we summarize what we read the day before. This helps the students remember the previous parts of the story and connect it to the day’s reading.

Plan with the End in Mind

When I’m planning, I always start with the question that I want my students to write about at the end of the lesson. This helps me pick where to stop in the text and also helps me plan the lesson with questions guiding toward the culminating question.

Encourage Student Writing

My students write to the text every day in whole group reading and small group reading. We have a separate time for procedural writing such as narrative, informational, and opinion. This time is exclusively answering questions about a text and using their writing skills.

Here’s an example from the beginning of the year

For some students, I provide a sentence starter at the beginning of the year. I have found that this make some students struggle because I may not start the sentence the way that they would so I try to limit using these.

At the end of the year, you can see how much their writing has improved. This is the same student from the first picture. This improvement is because writing expectations are high. We go over one student’s writing every day and give them glows and grows. I give them feedback through Seesaw and they are expected to improve their responses before they turn them in on Friday.

I use these writings as a comprehension grade. We often talk about the writing question in partners before they are released to write. I always pick three students to share their answer to the question so students have lots of opportunities to get the answer correct.

I hope this post has encouraged you in planning for next school year. Don’t be scared of the textbook! Leave me any questions you have and I’ll try to address them in another post.


3 Comments on “Yes, You can Teach Reading with a Textbook

  1. I had the pleasure of coming to your classroom in May to observe your reading block! I am so interested in incorporating your must do/may do system and use of Epic and Seesaw as a independent work in August. I would love to hear more about how you went about introducing and implementing this with your students!

  2. I agree! I would love to know more about your must do/may do system too! I also use Epic but no Seesaw. I am very interested in learning how you use them. Thanks!!

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