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9 Ways to Engage Your Students During Reading Block

February 28, 2022 by Janessa Fletcher




For many of us, our reading block lasts anywhere from 90-120 minutes every day.  That time is extremely important because it is the one time during the day that is protected and uninterrupted.  However, our reading block can seem like a huge chunk of time to keep students engaged.  For me, the time goes by so fast because I make sure my students are engaged every second during that time.  So today, I want to share 9 ways to engage your students during your reading block.

Reading Block Engagement 1 – Warm-up Slides

As students transition into your reading block, put them in the right mindset with a quick word work or phonics warm-up. You can use slides like these and your students can record their responses on a whiteboard or notebook and share them with a partner. Whether you are an early primary K-1 teacher or a primary 2-3 teacher there are options for you! You get a few minutes to prep for the upcoming lessons, while your students are engaged in literacy skills practice. Win-Win!

2 – Whole Group Whiteboards

During whole group, incorporate a variety of engagement strategies. Pull out the whiteboards (aff) and magnetic letters (aff) while you work on phonics skills. Grab markers to go with the whiteboards and practice spelling sight words. If you are working on a certain type of comprehension skill, your students can draw graphic organizers on their boards and write their responses to different questions that way. Maybe they sequence the story or draw a picture of the characters and setting. With whiteboards (aff), the engagement possibilities are endless.

3 – Read Aloud Engagement

While you are reading a story aloud, incorporate some kind of call and response, choral reading, or physical movement. Maybe they can repeat a certain phrase if the text lends itself to that type of engagement. Use Think, Pair, Share with your comprehension questions. Pose a question to your class, give them time to think about their answer, they then share it with a partner. You can call on a few random students to share aloud with the class just to make sure they are understanding the questions. Grab important vocabulary from the story and add a partner match to get your students up and moving.

4 – Make Learning Phonics Skills Fun

There are so many amazing phonics videos out there from a variety of YouTube channels. Your students can have some fun participating in a variety of songs, chants, and movements. It is by far one of the best ways to engage your students during reading block. I’m sure that you can find a few favorites for you and your students here. 👈

Reading Block Engagement 5 – Student Practice Activities

After you finish your whole group lesson, do your students complete an independent practice activity or go straight into small group centers? We have engaging activities for both!

While you get your centers set for your students, they can practice skills you just taught with:

6 – Small Group Engagement

I have a confession to make. Small group centers are my favorite part of the day. It’s when I know my students are getting tailored instruction for their literacy skill needs. While I am pulling my guided reading groups and working on sight words, phonics, fluency, and comprehension, the rest of my class is rotating through centers.

I even have a quick time-saving tip for you. (Because let’s be honest, creating and prepping centers takes A LOT of time.) Use some no-prep resources and get your centers done in 10 minutes or less. Or if you find laminating and cutting therapeutic 😉, grab our literacy centers for the year bundles.

Reading Block Engagement 7 – Use Interactive Notebooks

Interactive notebooks are a great way for your students to practice essential literacy skills while creating a reference tool that can be used later on in the school year. Many interactive notebook activities, like this silent e page, can be completed over and over again (puzzles, matches, etc.), so feel free to use them as a review. These notebooks can be used as an independent practice activity after your whole group lesson, or assigned as a center your students can work on during the week. If you are looking for a place to start incorporating interactive notebooks into your reading block, definitely check these out!

8 – Add Technology

Let’s face it… everything is more fun for our students when you add technology to it. Are one of your small group centers a technology station? What do you include there? Your students can play a game from Starfall or PBS Kids, or you can assign different literacy activities for them to complete at their own pace. These are some of my students’ favorites:

Reading Block Engagement 9 – Exit Tickets to Check for Understanding

As your students are putting away center materials and you reorganize your small group items, include an exit ticket. Choose a skill you taught that day or a review of something older. Your students can write their responses on a sticky note and put them on the door or whiteboard. Or write it down on a whiteboard they leave at their seat so you can walk around and check while transitioning to the next activity.

Hopefully, you are able to apply some of these practical engagement tips to your reading block right away! If you have any other ways to engage your students during a reading block, please share them in the comments below. As reading block takes up a large chunk of our day, I am always on the lookout for ways to keep it interesting for my students.

Written by – Janessa Fletcher

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