Creating an Engaging Classroom from Day One
  • August 06, 2018

At the beginning of the year, it’s important to turn your classroom into an inviting and comfortable place where everyone can learn, relax, and enjoy! I’m sharing one of my favorite lesson plans that gets my students engaged right off the bat. Use these steps to let your students know that you care and believe in their future achievements and watch them run to your classroom excited to do their READ 180 assignments!

Successful READ 180 Lessons for the Beginning of the Year

1. Do Now Assignments
2. Working with a Partner
3. Introducing Vocabulary
4. Instructional Routine: Idea Wave

5. Teacher Book Reviews

1. Do Now--From Teacher Central, display the Do Now when students walk into the classroom. Students can work on this as you are taking role and getting ready for Whole-Group Instruction.

To begin getting students acclimated to the Do Now  Whole-Group routine, On the first day of school have the following questions and sentence starters or language frames displayed as students walk into the classroom:

A. What summer activity was the most exciting for you?

The summer activity that was most exciting for me was...

The most thrilling summer event was -------- because-------

Sample Response

My most thrilling summer event was spending uninterrupted time with my family because we were able to do lots of activities since I wasn't so tired from school.

My most thrilling exciting summer activity was traveling to the North Shore. The daily temperature was in the 50's! A very nice change from the high 90's of Houston!

B. What would you like for your greatest achievement in READ 180 to be?

Sample Response

My greatest achievement with READ 180 was in 2010 when I won the Stage B 180 Educator Award. Then, in 2011, I had a  student win the READ 180

All-Star Award. It was exciting how both of these achievements changed our lives.

2.  Working with a Partner

Rules for Partnering:

A. Think First (think about your responses to the questions)
B. Rehearse (practice your answer on your head and whispering) 

C. Share (with a classmate)

Make eye contact with an elbow partner. Determine who will be partner #1 and #2: #1 is seated on left; #2 is seated on right. No #3s (second #2 will share after first #2).

Before sharing the Do Now with each other, review "proper partner etiquette" with your students. I like to use the 4L's; by the way, you may want to get students acquainted with the 4L's because it will support enhancing the Academic Discussion Routine.

Look---at your partner-in the US, it is proper to use eye contact when you are talking to someone. It is a sign of respect -it shows you are also listening
Lean---toward your partner---this shows that you are interested in what your partner is saying
Lower your voice---conversation voice-loud enough for your partner to hear
Listen attentively (pay attention)---you may be asked to share your partner’s answers

Everyone has a listening job. Students might want to write the partner’s answer down because they may be called on to share. Teacher models the sentence frame by reading it in phrases. Next, read the sentence frame aloud chorally as a class. Now you're ready to share your answer with your partners.

#1s please share your answer with your partner by reading the completed sentence frame. Read your completed frame to yourself. Now read it with expression to your partner (holding paper). Fluently say it with eye contact. Remember the 4L's as you share.

#2's please share your answer with your partner. I walk around and preselect partners to share their answers. Choose a confident student or an answer other students have written so students feel validated.

Gather your students’ attention back to you and have the volunteers share their answers to the rest of the class. Ask your students to use their:

Public voice

Professional voice

Reporter’s voice

I recommend using these comments to students after they have shared responses as encouragement:

Thank you for sharing in your public voice.

You used a very eloquent voice.
Your answer was relevant and strong.
I have seen similar answers around the room.
Your answer caught my attention. I noticed it.

For 100% classroom participation, have all students stand up. raise one hand up, and high five another person in the room. This will be another way to match up students.

To avoid the "professional participants" you may choose scholars to share by:

Birthdays, tallest, wearing a particular color, braces, shorts, color of hair, born in Texas or another state, likes the Cowboys over the Texans, is the oldest sibling, has a brother or sister, largest hand, stand if you have a similar answer, please share if your partner stated an answer that we have not discussed, summer birthday, etc.

3. Introducing Vocabulary

-Say the word

-Clap the syllables
-Rate the word (one-don't know the word, two-has seen the word but unfamiliar with the definitions, three-I think I know it, four-I know it, could stand up and teach it and be my assistant
-Locate the word in the sentence. Point to the word and circle it on your page. This word is a _________ in the sentence. It means to...
-What are some synonyms for this word? Make a word bank on the board.
-Write down two examples and be ready to share with your partner. One example starts with _________ and ends with ________.
-Partner #2 please share your synonyms using the following sentence starter. 

-Two synonyms for ___________ are __________ and ____________.

Students can teach the vocabulary word by using the posted guidelines.

4. Idea Wave

Display a copy of the Idea Wave on the projector/screen and have students react to the comments of their classmates Do Now activities. The Idea Wave is a great asset to helping all students speak in complete sentences.

Give these four steps a try as you swing into the READ 180 routines! I’m always looking for new activities and routines to use in my classroom – share your lesson ideas for the beginning of the year! 

Reading is a launch pad for the the future. Encourage your students to share. What do they Hope, Dream, Believe, and want to Achieve not only in the classroom, but in life. And remember to share your story with your students as well.