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Wrap Up Your Reading Workshop and Make Summer Reading Plans

By Beth Newingham on May 30, 2010
  • Grades: 3–5

We are in the home stretch in my classroom, as our last day of school is June 21st! However, with summer just around the corner, I have to keep myself from falling into summer vacation mode too early. I want to make sure that all of the hard work I have done with my readers this year is celebrated and is reflected upon in a way that helps my students realize their wonderful evolution as readers in my classroom. I find that encouraging them to reflect on their monthly reading goals and the progress they have made throughout the school year helps guide my students as they make plans for their summer reading.

Learn how my students use their Reader's Notebook to reflect on their independent reading and make plans for their summer reading. I also describe some fun ways to get your students excited about reading during the summer.


Using the Reader's Notebook to Reflect on a School Year of Reading

Using the information and work students have done in their Reader's Notebook during the school year, you can have them create a "Reading Year in Review" booklet that they can take home at the end of the year.  Each section below describes the parts of the booklet, but it can be downloaded as a Microsoft Office Publisher file at end of this section.  (Each page in the booklet is a half-sheet of paper.)

Notebook  Cover


Favorites: Using their reading log, your students can determine their favorite of the books they read during the school year.  This page of the booklet includes spaces for favorite chapter book, picture book, author, poem, and genre.  There is also a page for students to either draw or paste in a picture of themselves in their favorite book nook. It will be fun for them to look back at the booklet years later to remember where they liked to read in your classroom.





Genre Review: As you can see in my earlier post on the Reader's Notebook, my students create genre graphs every two months to keep track of the genres they are reading throughout the year.  The next two booklet pages require students to pick their favorite books in each genre and to then create a final genre graph that shows their total books read during the entire school year.  It is fun for students to see how many books they read and to reflect on the genres that they read the most and the least in 3rd grade.  Students can even use this final graph when setting summer reading goals.





Setting Summer Goals:  One important task that my students do in their Reader's Notebook each unit is to set reading goals for themselves.  A the end of the year, students reflect on the goals that they set for themselves throughout the school year.  This really helps them determine areas of reading in which they have grown and areas of their reading in which they still need to improve.  They will then revisit their reading logs, genre graphs, unit goals, and IDR task entries to write five goals for their summer reading on the booklet page below.  (See the "Setting Goals" handout in my Reader's Notebook post.)

Summer goals




Book Talk Recommending Books to Classmates: As students reflect on the reading they have done this school year and begin to add their favorite books to their "Reading Year in Review" booklet, they often begin reminiscing about their favorite books.  To capture this excitement for reading, you can have each child do a book talk as a way of recommending books to their classmates for summer reading.  As students share books with each other, they can write the title of the books they are interested in reading on the page (seen below) in their booklet.  They can then check these books out at the library over the summer or even purchase them at a local bookstore.  You can use this "Recommending a Book" handout to help your students plan their book talks. 






Final Reflection: On the last page of the booklet, students answer questions related to their reading life based on their experiences in your Reading Workshop.  These questions are more thoughtful and require students to think more deeply about their reading growth and achievements during the school year.



Download the "Reading Year in Review" booklet (MS Office Publisher File).






Creative Ways to Encourage Summer Reading

We teachers know how essential it is for students to continue reading over the summer.  We have all heard about the summer reading loss that affects so many readers, especially those readers who are already considered to be at risk.  Here are some ways to get your students just as excited about reading as they are about swimming and all of the other fun activities that take place during the summer.


Hold a Book Exchange in Your Classroom!

Exchange Once a student reads a chapter book, he or she is likely to never pick up the book again.  It just sits on a shelf or in a box somewhere in the child's room.  To make the most out of these "once read" books, hold a book exchange in your classroom.  Each student can bring books from home to exchange with books brought from home by their classmates.  Ideally, the number of books a student brings is the number of books he or she can exchange.  However, I often end up adding some books to the exchange since students are not always able to find enough books that pique their interest.  This activity gives students new books to begin reading right when summer vacation begins!



Start a Summer Book Club or Lunch With Your Students

Picnic In a classroom where the teacher has established an effective Reading Workshop, the students typically build a very strong community of readers.  These students truly get to know each other as readers and become very comfortable talking about books. To encourage your students to continue talking about their reading during the summer, set up a few "meet in the park" or "meet on the playground" days where you invite students to bring lunch and a book to a local park (or the school playground) to discuss the books they are reading.  It will be fun for the students to see you during the summer, and it will be a great way to check in on their reading and discuss the books they have read so far.



Take a Field Trip to the Public Library to Learn About Their Summer Reading Program

Library1When I taught second grade, I took my students to the public library for a tour of the library, story time, and an overview of the summer reading program the librarians had put in place for students in the community.  Students who did not have a library card were even able to apply for their own card, and all students received a packet of information about the summer reading program to take home to their parents.




Take a Field Trip to a Local Bookstore

BNMany bookstores like Barnes and Noble also have summer reading programs similar to those students may find at the public library.  You can take your students on an inexpensive field trip to one of these bookstore where they can enjoy a read-aloud experience in a fun setting and also fill out the forms necessary to take part in the summer reading programs described below.

For Barnes and Noble's summer reading program, students can earn a free book for every eight books they read if they keep track on their B&N Summer Reading Passport.  You can also download reading activity kits for both parents and educators.



Encourage Your Students to Join the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge!

The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge is a free, Web-based program that helps kids find great books and provides a fun, multimedia platform where they can discover new authors and books and keep motivated to read all summer long. This is by far the most comprehensive summer reading experience for your students. Teachers can register their classes and then let the students choose books they want to read and log their reading minutes at the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge headquarters.


Share Your Ideas!

What do you do to wrap up your Reading Workshop and help your students plan for summer reading?  Share your ideas with me and with other teachers who read this blog.


Thanks for a Great Year!

It has been a pleasure to write posts for "Top Teaching" this year.  I have enjoyed hearing from so many of you and sharing my ideas with teachers around the world.  I wish all of you a safe, relaxing, and enjoyable summer!

Comments (28)

Hi Beth, I am a second-year teacher who teaches third grade. I came across your website, and was inspired by the "word study" section. I was wondering, what does the weekly homework packet consist of? Last year I had my students put their words in ABC order, write sentences, and break the words into syllables. I really would like to try your method this upcoming school year. Any advice you can offer would be much appreciated!!!


Thanks for posting your great comments on my blog this year! I'm so glad you were able to use some of the ideas I shared in your own classroom. Enjoy your summer!



You asked how we prepare our students for standardized tests. First of all, we do hope that what we teach on an everyday basis is constantly preparing our students to perform well on standardized tests. However, we also know that students do need to learn test taking strategies and practice the types of questions found on these tests. Since our state test is given shortly after students start school in the fall, we do not have much time to spend "prepping" them for the test. For that reason, we spend time at the end of the year doing a mini test-taking genre study to prepare our current students for the test they will take as 4th graders in the fall, and then we review the test-taking skills at the beginning of the year that our new students were taught in 2nd grade. A group of teachers in our county developed a unit plan that we use with our students during these times.


My last day is tomorrow, June 18th. I'm surprised to see that someone's getting out later than us! I just wanted to thank you for your dedication to your students and profession! Your ideas have really helped me to improve my craft. Enjoy your summer :-)

Beth, I love your website! I am going to be teaching 3rd grade this year after spending 9 years in 5th and 6th grade. I was wondering how you prepare your students for state standardized tests. In our private school, we are required to give the Benchmark tests that follow along wth the basal reader's units (Scott Foresman). Do you have any ideas how to incorporate those skills, stories and teaching the students how to answer those types of test questions in reading workshop? Thank you


I use Print Shop to create most all of my signs and posters. It is created by Broderbund and is fairly inexpensive.

I have loved all of my school-year themes, but I think I liked both the space theme and the rock-n-roll theme the best!

You also asked about implementing a reading workshop while also using a basal. I addressed that same question quite a few times in my Reading Woekshop post. I think if you read through the comments that accompany that post, you will find a great deal of information that will help answer your question. Here is a link to that post: http://blogs.scholastic.com/top_teaching/2009/10/reading-workshop.html

I hope this helps!



Unfortunately my theme posters were created at school, and I saved them on a computer that was then reimaged. (That means the files were deleted.) However, the theme posters were really pretty easy to create. It just required adding a headline and textbox in Print Shop. Also, since the fonts I used would not have been installed on your computer, you would still have had to use different fonts even if I was able to send you the original Print Shop files.

I am sorry I could not be of more help!



I choose my year-long theme before the students arrive because I decorate my classroom for the theme before they come on the first day. This adds excitement to their arrival! I send home a note to let them know that they are in my class, and, in that note, I announce the theme. I also do many things during the first week related to the theme, so it would be hard to wait and have the students choose the theme themselves.

The only theme that is not highlighted on my website is my current nautical theme, "Pier 13." However, you can see photos related to this year's nautical theme at this blog post: http://blogs.scholastic.com/top_teaching/2009/09/there-are-times-when-i-feel-more-like-an-interior-designer-than-a-teacher-im-sure-there-are-many-of-you-who-can-relate-to-th.html

I will add more information about the nautical theme to my website this summer!


Beth.. you are just outstanding!!!!!!!! i am returningto the classroom after an 8 yr. leave to be with my family..I am so inspired by your work! What program do you use to make all of your signs and student photos with themes? Also..what was your favorite theme you used? My new school is still using a basal based reading program.. I came from a school that was using the model you use .. can I marry the two concepts together?


What an inspiring site! So helpful and creative. My school is going to become IB (International Bachalorette) which I am very excited about, but means a lot of work too. I love your theme posters to go with reading, but would like to tweak them to go with the IB attitudes (use tolerance instead of acceptance, etc.), but can't modify the PDF on your website. Any suggestions because I love the font and color highlights? Thank you so much for doing all of this.

Warmly, Sarah

Hi Beth, I am a teacher in San Francisco, California, and am always so inspired by visiting your website. Thank you for doing it. As I prepare for next year I am considering choosing a theme to carry us through the year. I wondered if you choose your themes independent of the students, or with the students. Also wondered what your most recent themes were since they are not on you website. Thanks again. You are a true professional!


Thanks for your nice comments...don't worry about calling me Lori:) I thought that was funny!

You can download a sample weekly lesson plan of mine from a previous post about Math Workshop. Here is a link to that post: http://blogs.scholastic.com/top_teaching/2010/05/math-workshop.html



Instead of left clicking on the file, try right clicking and choose "save target as." Then select a file location to save the file on your computer. Finally, try opening the saved file. Let me know if this works!


I always love your blog! I can't wait to put some of these great ideas to use but I also was not able to open your publisher link. I get a message that publisher detected a problem with the file and therefore won't open it. I would love to use some of the materials and have publisher but still can't open them.

Sorry Beth about calling you Lori! I was chatting with my friend Lori. Goes to prove that maybe I should only do one thing at a time! LOL!


I love your creativity and enthusiasm!!! Having taught for 13+ years, you are a breath of fresh air! Now that I have a few days off, I am working on next year. I'd like to look at you sample lesson plan, but the link doesn't work...



I am not sure why you are unable to open the "Recommending a Book" document. It is a Microsoft Word file. Try right clicking on the file and choosing "save target as." Pick a location to save it on your hard drive. Then open MS Word and open the file from its saved location.

I hope this works!



Thanks for comments. It's nice to know you have enjoyed reading my blog and using my ideas this year. Have a great summer!



I'm sorry, but the file is an MS Publisher file. I used MS Publisher because I wanted to create it as a booklet. I don't know of a way to convert it to a Word file. Perhaps you could open it on a computer that has Micosoft Publisher installed.

I wish I had a better answer for you!


I wasn't able to open the Recommending a Book handout. Any suggestions?

I love your ideas! Thank you so much for sharing everything that you do. It is refreshing to hear ideas from someone who is actually in the classroom and knows what it is like. I hope that you have a relaxing summer and can't wait to read more next year. Alison

Hi Beth,

I tried to download your summer package and it would't open? Is there a way you could send it in a word file?

THanks so much! Laura


The pocket chart that stores my word study center materials was purchased from http://callowayhouse.com/home.asp years ago. I was not able to find it on their current website. However, there were some similar items if you search "pocket charts."



Where do you get the holders for your literacy center materials station? I think it would work well in my classroom.


I'm glad my post was helpful to you! I am finding that many schools get out before Memorial Day, so this post is unfortunately too late for those teachers! We do not get out until June 21st this year!

Enjoy the rest of your school year!



I will have to fix that link on my website. I'm sorry about that! You can find a ton of information about Bucket-Filling in my classroom by checking out the post I wrote a couple months ago. Here is a link to the post: http://blogs.scholastic.com/top_teaching/2010/04/are-your-students-bucket-fillers.html

All of your questions should be answered in that post, but you can post additional questions if you still have them after reading it.


Your blog is very timely as I was just thinking about how I would like my students to reflect in some way about their reading this year. Thanks for all of the great ideas!

I LOVE your website! I have a question regarding the Bucketfillers...I tried to click on your links, but it only showed me pictures of clip art. How do you incorporate it into your classroom? When do the students see their buckets? Do they know who have them a pom pom? What "fills" a bucket? My school is a PBS school and this would fit perfectly! Thanks!

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