Stage C
Independent Reading - Now's the Best Time to Read a Class Novel

As an English teacher, since I've been teaching READ 180, I miss reading class novels with my students. I understand and support the very valid reasons behind having students read independently, but I still miss class novels. That said, there is still a valid way to fit in a class novel before the end of the year.

As teachers begin to wrap up the school year in the last quarter, with thought and planning, Marking Period 4 can be the ideal time to add a class novel to reinvigorate and motivate students when attention wanes as they begin thinking about summer. 


  • Students struggle to read independently. By reading independently, students learn to read on their own, without relying on the teacher or classmates.  
  • Learning to read independently is a life skill. 
  • Students misbehave in IR.  Yes. This is often the most difficult rotation, but if you don't give up, and put a strong Independent Reading plan in place, students will step up.  

It's up to the teacher to set in place the structure needed for students to have success in IR: classroom management, picking books at the correct Lexile range, picking books in topics they are personally interested in, etc. All this begins at the beginning of the year and is reviewed and reinforced throughout the year. 


That said, switching things up as the year comes to a close can help to cement all students learn throughout the year into a fun, educational, curricular-related reading experience.


READ 180 = ELA Replacement

Is your READ 180 class, like mine, an English language arts replacement?  If so, there are books non-READ 180 classes are reading throughout the year that your students don't read due to the READ 180 Curriculum.  Choose one of these to read as a whole class novel.

READ 180 = An Additional Reading "Elective" Class

If your READ 180 students have a separate ELA Class, then your options for whole class novels are much greater. Of course, you won't want to read a novel any of your students have already read in another class or previous year, and anything they might read in a future ELA Class.


The class novel, if used, takes place of your Independent Reading time, and possibly Wrap-Up, if your schedule allows time for daily Wrap-up. However, to maintain program fidelity, make sure you don't cut out Whole Group, Small Group, and READ 180 Topic Software/Student A.

Novels can be time-consuming, especially when students cannot do some of the reading on their own, which is most likely the case for our students. 

  • I find it is important to use a calendar grid to schedule days off, pages to read and discuss, etc. 
  • On average, 5-7 pages a day is about the most I can manage and somedays it's less.


Option 1:

  • Find a novel that has a closely aligned movie. 
  • Segment the novel into 4 parts, and in the movie, find where your part 2 ends.
  • Read Part 1.
  • Watch Parts 1 and 2 of the movie.
  • Stop watching before Part 3 begins.
  • Read Part 3.
  • Watch Parts 3 & 4 of the movie.

NOTE: I have used this option with Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and The Crucible by Arthur Miller.  They both have excellent movies that are closely aligned with the novels.

Option 2:

  • Select 3-4 audiobooks your students have not read yet.
  • Have each student select two books they would most to read and create groups of three from those lists.  
  • Students will read along with the audio in their IR Book groups, similar to literature circles. 
  • Option 2 stays the closest to maintaining Independent Reading fidelity and students would easily transition to this format.  
  • You will need a CD player with multiple headphones, OR an IR location in the classroom where the audio could be played aloud without interfering with other class rotations.

HINT: Don't tell students what you plan to do with the books they choose so they don't pick a book just because their friend likes it.  This will give teachers more flexibility in forming groups.  If you have 2 books that most students selected, you can have 2 IR groups reading the same book; you still maintain your rotations this way.

NOTE: I have used Option 2 with students choosing to read Reality Strikes (READ 180) and Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff

Option 3:

Select a small novel that can easily be read with the whole class in the days you have available. 


Once students return from Spring Break, they often act like the school year is over. Switching up this one rotation, can be enough of a change to interest and motivate students for the remainder of the year. I have found that my students were excited to read in the new format and couldn't wait until the end of class so they could all comeback to their desks and read (Option 1).

Reading a class novel should only occur at the end of the year, not throughout the year. Independent reading gives our students the opportunity for reading success with books they chose and read independently.  This is an essential skill that many of our students have never found success with for a variety of reasons, one of which might be that they did not have the opportunity to read independently - until READ 180.

Stage C READ 180 Educator

January 1, 2014

It has been a while since I have updated my profile, so long that I had to search to find the edit button! I continue to teach three READ 180 classes this school year, which I absolutely love, after one-year of teaching 2 READ 180/English 1 blocks and one ICS English 1. The 2013-2014 school year is my 7th year teaching READ 180/English 1, and my 20th year as a SPED teacher.  

Oakcrest High School is one of three regional high schools in southern South Jersey. At Oakcrest, I teach a combined RC English 1/READ 180 90 minute course (10 credits) to freshmen special education students whose skills range from being on grade level to 5 or 6 years behind grade level. My district mainly uses the READ 180 curriculum for SPED freshmen who are not ready for the gen ed curriculum, either because of learning or moderate behavioral disabilities. About half of my students move from the RC placement to an ICS placement for English in their sophomore year.

I have enjoyed writing the Stage C READ 180 Blog for the past two years, sharing my classroom with the READ 180 Community Members. Check out all my blogs HERE. In my blog, I try to respond to questions I see in the Community Message Boards, as well as questions from READ 180 Teachers, and things I have tried and found successful in my own READ 180 classrooms. In my blog, I also try to focus on the Common Core and Next Generation Assessment skills our students will need, sharing tips and enhancements I have made in my classes to help prepare my SPED students. Last summer, I was also invited to serve on the Scholastic READ 180 Advisory Board in NYC, and learned about some of the amazing things Scholastic is implementing to help introduce our students to the Common Core and Next Gen. Assessments, which were the topic of my December 2013 blog: Stretch 2 Supports Common Core Reading & Writing.

During the last READ 180 National Summer Institute in New Orleans during July 2012, I presented one of my class best practices to many of the READ 180 teachedrs attending the conference. You can find information and resources from that presentation in my blog HERE. The folder system outlined my "Success" Blog is easy to set up and easy for students to use and teachers to implement.

CryUnfortunately, I will be unable to attend the upcoming 2014 NSI in Florida as the new dates conflict with my annual family vacation in Duck, NC. Cry

Besides the enhanced focus on the Common Core, this year my students have been blogging about their books with two other READ 180 classes. Students have enjoyed blogging and, although we had to take a break the last few weeks, they are looking forward to picking it back up and restart their blogging this month.