Teaching Strategies & Tips

Using ReadTheory Over The Summer

Drop Everything and ReadTheory!

When my own children were in elementary school, they had DEAR time. That means “Drop Everything And Read.” The only trouble with DEAR time was that we were often on the go and it was hard to set up a routine. So, why not revive DEAR with a summer reading program that students can access at home, on their mobile devices on the go, and one that is available 24/7? They can if they DEART–Drop Everything And ReadTheory!

If you have read any of my other articles, you may have heard me mention (rant??) that continual reading practice is the only way to improve reading skills. Now that we’ve started to get students back into our classrooms, it is almost time to let them go again. It is more important than ever to get students and parents to buy into a reading program this summer. Great News! Read Theory is available this summer! Here’s how to ensure your students can keep reading even when the summer sun is calling:

Prepare in Advance

Get Log-In Cards Ready to distribute. 

You can create a fresh set of log-in cards to send home by resetting your students passwords. To do this, click on the “My Students” icon on the top left. Select the students by putting a check mark in the little box next to their name. Then click “Reset Password.” Voila! A fresh set of login cards are emailed to you!

Get Log-In Cards Ready to distribute

Communicate with Parents

Use this info sheet to send home with parents. Include ReadTheory as a resource on lists going home. Be sure to note that RT is completely free and works on mobile devices.  RT asks for an email address so students can reset their password if they forget, but it’s completely optional. Encourage the students to use their school email address or, if they prefer, make it clear that they can work through the passages without providing one.

Communicate with the next grade level 

Set a summer expectation with the next level teacher. Found out where they should be when entering the next grade. You can also use those log-in cards you just created to make it easy for the students to continue with ReadTheory with their teacher next year. Just hand their new teacher a copy of the log-in cards! Students can connect to their new teacher on day one by logging in and entering their new teacher’s class code.

Have students set their own goals for summer reading

Review the current data with each of your students and have them set a goal with benchmarks. Have them look at their total Knowledge Points (KP) and the list of badges. You can use this handy progress chart.

Help your students to set realistic goals. For example, if a student has only earned 1700 points all year, it may not be an attainable goal to earn the Rocketeer Badge (10,000 KP) over the summer. But it could be attainable to reach the Prodigy Badge (4000 KP) this summer.

You could even break it up for students by having them set intermediate goals along the way. Benchmarks would be: Equilibrium (2250 KP) by July 1, Forerunner (3000 KP) by August 1, and the Prodigy by the end of August.

Communicate with the next grade level

Keep a reading log

Students can log their reading progress here. Encourage parents to check to see what the “most interesting thing” the students read and initiate a conversation about it. They can then encourage their child to find more information on that topic. Students can Google it or find books to purchase or borrow from the library. Students read more when they are interested in the subject matter. Bonus! This will strengthen their background knowledge too!

Keep a reading log

Summer check in

You may think that once they leave your room, there’s nothing more you can do, but there’s very low-maintenance ways to keep students motivated even when they’re not in your room anymore.

Check in with students/parents

Establish a way to communicate with parents/students over the break in a stress-free easy way. For example, determine a few check in dates to check your students’ progress. In my example above, I determined 2 check in dates after each month. You could check in by simply checking their progress in RT on those dates and sending emails to both parents and students of encouragement and praise. If you use a goal setting document with your students, use a Google Doc and provide feedback on that for the students.

Admin buy-in 

See about administration support for summer competitions on ReadTheory. Make sure admin knows about ReadTheory and is able to offer it as a free resource to all community members. The school Twitter feed could post class progress. Balgreen Primary school does this all year and their students love it.

Start Next Year Strong

Check in on day 2 of class in the fall semester with how students did on ReadTheory. Use the data to help make early decisions about grouping and differentiation.

Celebrate the students who reached their goals. Certificates could be awarded. The PTSA may be willing to donate rewards. Why not have a schoolwide parade?! Remind the students who didn’t reach their goals that it is not too late. They can still work on RT after the school year begins!

Don’t wait until summer has started!

Get your class pumped up to read!! Don’t like the name “DEART”? Come up with your own name– “Bury yourself in reading” with a pirate-themed quest for buried treasure. “Dip into reading” with a swimming pool or beach theme. Do an Olympic tie-in–”flipping over reading” ?? I don’t know…make it your own! Make a big deal and host a launch event to get the students excited. Then send them off to read! Little do they know the rewards they will earn will be more far reaching than the award they get when they return to school!

Jana Hill, SPED English teacher (for ages 14-20)
Written by Jana Hill, SPED English teacher (for ages 14-20)

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