Want To Get Students Excited About Reading?

Reading is no fun?  whaaaat?

As a pleasure reader myself, it’s a killer when I hear a student say, “I don’t like to read.”  I’m not talking about reading  required in school subjects, I’m talking about reading for pleasure; curl up with a good book and be whisked away to some other place and time.  Too many students see reading as a chore, to be put off as long as possible. What’s a teacher/reader to do?

Here are some things that are working with my students…

try it, you’ll like it!

I looked over my daily schedule and I found two days where I could carve out about 15-20 minutes for my students to do some independent reading.  I wrote the times onto my schedule posted on the board daily.  For me, out of sight, out of mind, so seeing “independent reading” in the schedule, helped me make it happen.  I made no requirements or demands about what my students could read.  I let them make their own choices.

Leave it to the students!

During morning meetings, several of my students, who do read for pleasure, began to share books they were reading.  Hearing from other readers, my more reluctant readers began to try books their friends were reading.  One author, Margaret Peterson Haddix, really caught their attention with her “Shadow Children” series and the excitement from the students about how good the stories were, sent my reluctant readers flying to the library!  Score!!!

Feed them and they will come

My school has signed up for the Book It! program sponsored by Pizza Hut.  When students read a certain number of books, they are “rewarded” with a certificate for a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut.  A bribe?  YES!!!!  The program comes with a certificate book that the teacher fills out for the student who has met the agreed upon goal for the month.  By the way, I have zero, nada, no affiliation with Book It! Another score!

technology calls!!!  Let’s answer!

My school librarian turned me on to an online library that is free for teachers and students!  It’s Epic books and you can find it at http://www.getepic.com.  It will walk you through the set up.

I created a class within the library, and gave the class code to the students and they were fired up!  Epic is just like your local library, but in this case, the books are at the finger tips of my students on their chromebooks!  While it is a subscription website for parents, my students can read for free when connected to our school’s WIFI!  Many of my students reach for their chromebooks and Epic when their work is done.  There are many audible books for struggling readers, too!  The Goosebumps series is really popular and it’s an audible series that many of my students are flying through!


So there you go!  I’m not saying these ideas will do it for all your “I don’t like to read,” students, but as Einstein said, “When you do the same thing over and over, expecting different results…” well, you know the end of that quote!

I’m always looking for ways to encourage my students to find pleasure in reading independently, so please share what you find is working in your classroom!




New Years Is A Time For Change

Promises, Promises!

I’ve never been one of those folks who sit down on Dec. 31 and make all kinds of “promises” about changes I planned to make in the coming New Year.  So why the title?  Wellll…I can explain

As some of you may know, I have a store, Susan Mescall, where I sell lesson ready products.    While I personally may not be making any changes, I have started looking at my store products and noticing that one of my earlier products needed a makeover…in other words…A CHANGE!

Who’s That?

I’m a fifth grade teacher and my students and I often share what books are being read out of school or during independent reading.  Somehow the subject of adventure books were being discussed and I mentioned Kidnapped.  One of my students wanted to know who the author was and when I replied with Robert Louis Stevenson,  no one in my class had any idea of who he was!  Kidnapped was my first experience with a “classic” adventure book when I was a kid and it bothered me that my students had no idea who he was.

What to do? What to do?

It really concerned me that my students had heard of the book, but had no idea about the author.  I decided to introduce my students to people who had impacted the world around them, but because to time, had been “forgotten”.

I began to search for people and their words of wisdom.  I have included such well-known people as Oprah Winfrey, and Mohammed Ali.  I have also included lesser known people as Jaime Escalante and Marva Collins.


(apologies to David Bowie!)

Imagine my dismay, when I took another look at my early product and discovered errors in grammar and the fact I no longer liked the look of my product.  So I have spent time changing, and hopefully you’ll agree, improving my product.

I changed the name to “Journal Responses for Students”.  I have taken out the clip art and made the pages and font larger.  I have also enlarged the author’s picture and updated information.

  So I guess you can say that Change is in the air today!!!

                    Let me know of any other folks you think today’s students should know about!

Journal Prompts for Students



A Summarizing Game that will Challenge and Excite

Do you shudder when it comes to getting your students to summarize?  Summarizing anything; a story, movie, or even what they did last night and still the kids moan and groan…maybe not out loud, but they do. It’s not something most anyone likes to do, even me!  My husband loves me , and too often even  I hear …”cut to the chase, Sue!”

A while back, I found myself reading a blog about summarizing, just by chance.  Today, I wish I had written the blog author’s name so I could given the writer credit for such a great idea.  Friends, if you recognize the blogger’s idea and know their name, please leave me a comment so I can give them credit.

Any who, back to the idea!!!  The author called it “Inside, Outside.”   On your SMARTboard or whiteboard, draw a large circle and a second much smaller circle inside the first.  Locate the second circle in the middle of the first circle.

So here ‘s where the summarizing comes in!  We have worked to summarize since the first week of school.  I have encouraged the students to use fewer words and concentrate on the important events in whatever we have been reading.  I have the students put their summary on a small post-it note.  Nooww, here’s how the game works!

Each student puts their post-it note on the whiteboard outside the large circle when they finish…no name, but I know each of my kids’ handwriting…they just don’t know that.  I then read each post-it out loud and the class decides where the post-it note belongs.  The better the summary, the closer to the inner circle goes the post-it.  Those notes the students decide have missed the big idea(s) may not enter the larger circle.  The picture below shows that several summaries hit the bull’s eye…voted by the class.img_11461

The kids LOVE this game and part of it is the fact that THEY are deciding where the summary goes, not me.  I do occasionally use a veto if I feel the class has been unduly harsh is voicing their opinion as to where the post-it should be located.

It’s a quick and easy check to identify those students who are still having trouble finding the big ideas…note those who are still on the line or completely outside the large circle.  So the work continues on summarizing and my students continue to ask to play to game!







A Teacher Gift Your Students Will Treasure All Year!

In years past, I have struggled with what to give my students for gifts.  I usually defaulted to candy and pencils.  Such gifts didn’t break the bank of a first year teacher, but it wasn’t really what my students wanted. However, they took the bags with a smile. Flash forward to my first year at a new school and my usual teacher gift of candy and pencils just weren’t going to do the trick as many of my students weren’t all that crazy about sweets or needed extra pencils. What to do, what to do? Continue reading

How To Conquer The Early Finisher Syndrome

We’ve all been there…It’s small group and station or center time.  You are in the middle of small group when you hear them!!! Those words of horror… “I’m done!  What can I do now?”  What do you do?  Sweat pops out between your shoulder blades and your mind goes blank.

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Restoring Hope For Flooded Louisiana Teachers

On August 11th, 2016, a stationary weather system resulted in torrential downpours with upwards of two feet of rain that devastated several parishes across South Louisiana. The extreme amount of rainwater, close to 7.1 trillion gallons of water, caused rivers, lake, and other bodies of water to reach and exceed flood stages in the following days. In the blink of an eye, the water began rising and encroaching upon not just areas that typically flood, but the flooding waters found their way to places that had never even had the threat of flooding before. The widespread devastation of the rising water quickly destroyed countless homes, businesses, and schools.
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