A New Lesson for a New School Year

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!

READ 180 Lesson for the Beginning of the Year:

1. Do Now Assignments--Make your own and use the Dashboard ITS
2. Working with a Partner
3. Introducing Vocabulary
4. RED Routine: Idea Wave

1. Do Now 

Have an activity on the board when students walk into the classroom. Students can work on this as you are taking role and getting ready for class.

1. 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-------


  • 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 Hong Kong on the Upper Deck of the 747!

2. What has been your greatest achievement with READ 180?

My greatest achievement with READ 180 was ----- because-------


  • My greatest achievement with READ 180 was in 2010 when I won the Stage B National Educator of the Year.
  • My greatest achievement with READ 180 was in 2011 when my student won the Scholastic READ 180 All-Star Award because it truly changed my students life.
  • My greatest achievement with READ 180 is writing the Scholastic Stage B and "Passport to Success" blog on the READ 180 Community because I am able to share my ideas with the 25,000 members.

2. Lesson: 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:

  • 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 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 the 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 their "World of Possible!" What do they Hope, Dream, Believe, and want to achieve in their life? And remember to share your story with your students as well. I play the video of me receiving the United Million Miler package and the photograph showing how I accomplished my hopes and dreams!

Stage C READ 180 Educator

Philosophy of Teaching All of my life, I have enjoyed working with children and have always desired to teach. It is my belief that no matter what socio-economic background, everyone deserves to achieve his/her educational goals. It is my ambition to facilitate this process.Growing up in the Houston area, I have always been aware of the Cypress-Fairbanks School District. The district's reputation of excellence is well known, not only in the Houston metroplex, but throughout the state of Texas. As a professional educator, it is important to be associated with a school district whose goals for its students are aligned with my philosophy of teaching.

  • Thanks, Andrea! Your mix of READ 180 and personal routines. As I have a few students who speak in a whisper, if at all, your encouraging words will help them learn to speak using their public, professional, or reporter voice. :0)

    Thank you Sally! Let me know how your students succeed because I know they will!


    I love your suggestions with helping the students to speak using a public, professional, or reporter's voice, as well as your words of encouragement for improved or well-spoken responses. I also like the idea of asking the students to rehearse their responses before speaking them. I plan to implement these suggestions immediately as I have been trying to get my students to share their ideas and stories with more confidence with minimal success. Thank you, Andrea!