New Year, New Routine

The new school year always brings new routines to your students. We have a combination of students new to school, new to READ 180, and continuing to make that final push to close the gap. I learned early on in READ 180 that one of the best ways for me to begin to make the necessary navigation past new and nerves to consistency were to begin the instructional routines on Day One. As I start year two of my transition to READ 180 Universal, this an approach I am glad to maintain, but we have really enjoyed the new Getting Started module.  

When we start the year off with READ 180 Experience, my sophomores read the story of Shadrack Boakye because as freshmen they read the story of Darlene Manfred. Generally, our program is two years for 9th and 10th grade. Because the Getting Started module is such an important part of leveraging content to start the year off right, I want to give students a story to read and make connections to another former READ 180 student. We actually have a teacher in our hallway that has the same last name as Shadrack and they are from the same area in Africa, so the teacher has been giving us some information about the area that they lived in. After we read Shadrack’s story, we discuss the challenges he went through and then students fill out the “What is Your Story” activity.  As we have read and discussed the challenges that Shadrack Boakye faced coming to a new country, a new school, and learning a new language, my students relate to Shadrack because they have faced many of those same challenges. Students feel connected because they understand how Shadrack feels. 

We watch the mindset video about Michael Jordan, J.K. Rowling, and Sonia Sotomayor and we review the positive behaviors that help build students’ minds. We use these behaviors and students set goals for the year for reading. We just finished the first quarter and had a week break from school. I had students review their reading goals for the year as we start the second quarter.  

Because my students have connected to Shadrack’s story, set their own goals, and discussed their learning mindsets, the logistics and mechanics go quickly. I use a PowerPoint presentation to show the students what each rotation looks like and discuss the purpose and expectations for each station. So that we all stay organized with groups and rotations, I organize by colors: Green Group, Yellow Group, and Blue Group. Daily I have the rotation schedule posted and ready. Students can see what day and what part of the rotation we are doing that day. This serves as a daily reminder that hangs on the wall everyday in a place that all students can see at all times even when I may have something other than the Flightboard displayed. The displayed poster also helps those students that come in tardy to class know which rotation they are in, again, if anything other than the Flightboard is being displayed. I do set up my groups using the Groupinator after RI testing, so I definitely benefit from the provided teacher management tools. Using the Flightboard timer is a great feature to use when you need to get students moving quickly from rotation to rotation. We, like you, don’t have any time to waste.

 We are on the A/B Schedule. When Whole Group is scheduled, I have all students sit with their groups in chairs and desks; no one sits at a computer. I have chosen to set my room up with extra desks so when we are in whole group, all students are facing me, and all are engaged in the whole group lesson. I have seen other classrooms where students are sitting at individual computers, sitting away from the teacher, and having to balance their book or material on their lap or next to the keyboard. I feel having all students facing me during whole group helps them stay engaged and it is easier to conduct a Think-Pair-Share or quick formative assessments as we discuss the reading.

After we have completed whole group, we move into the first rotation. Transitions are smooth and we are within a minute for moving from one rotation to another.

At the student application center, there is a reminder for students to complete each zone, and then when students finish a segment, they get a stamp on the chart at our success zone area.  My students love to be reminded of their progress and it keeps them accountable. If you are wondering, yes, on occasion, they do get chips. What’s a little reading time if you can’t have a snack? I realize not everyone can give food as a reward, so I do occasionally also have music as an incentive. For example, last minute after a segment is complete, they can use their phone to listen to their favorite tune.

The students in the Independent Reading group have been given a reading log to keep track of their books they read and to keep track of their Reading Counts quizzes. I organized all the paperbacks into the six lexile levels and students know what their range of books are. They can go 100 below their level to 50 points higher. Students can defend their reasoning to me if they wish to read a text out of their reading range. I am lucky that I also have laptops available in my classroom so students that want to read a digital book or an eRead, there are computers available other than the ones being used by students working on the Student Application.

The next day, student come into class and go through rotations 2 and 3. The first few weeks of school, I do have to help remind them where they need to be and what the student expectations are. It doesn’t take long for students to get into a groove and they can pretty much run the class themselves after a while. I truly feel that these routines put into place help my READ 180 students stay organized, engaged, and accountable for their own learning.


Tammy is the READ 180 teacher and yearbook sponsor at Camelback High School in Arizona.