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My February Top Ten List: Resources and Lessons for Fiction Reading

By Beth Newingham on February 24, 2011
  • Grades: 3–5

While nonfiction, poetry, and author studies are very important components of my curriculum, my 3rd graders still get totally excited about fiction texts. However, as students mature as readers, it is important to move beyond reading fiction just for fun and really encourage them to think more deeply about their fiction texts. Focusing on character development, building comprehension through reading partnerships and book clubs, and weaving in technology can make your fiction genre study very powerful for your students.

READ ON to see highlights of my fiction genre study and to look at reading partnerships and mystery detective clubs. You will find lots of printables, links to useful Web sites, lesson plans, and photos.




1. Flat Characters vs. Round Characters

When students read picture books in kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade, the books tend to have very few characters with distinct personalities. However, as students begin reading chapter books, the number of characters increases and the characters become more complex. Before we begin studying these characters on a deeper level, I encourage my students to categorize their characters as “flat” or “round.”  Flat characters have no real impact on the plot, and the author does not develop their personalities. On the other hand, round characters are well-developed, can be identified by specific character traits, and often change in some way during the story. Download PDFs of the flat characters and round characters posters below.

Flat Characters Round Characters


Round flat T-Chart As an independent reading task, my students organize the characters in their chapter book into these two categories. (Some students may find that certain characters fall in the middle, so they write those characters’ names on the line between round and flat.) Once they identify their round characters, we move on to the next lesson in this post.

Download the round & flat characters T-chart.




2. Inferring Character Traits From Actions and Dialogue in the Story

Character Traits Too often, students can identify character traits for the characters in their stories (e.g., mean, rude, cheerful), but they do not use examples from the text support their ideas. I teach my students to “show, not tell” in their writing, and I explain that good authors do the same thing in the books in our classroom library. Since good authors do not just list specific traits for the characters in the books they write, it is up to the reader to infer the character traits based on things the characters do (actions) and say (dialogue).  

Using my character traits handout, students find specific actions or dialogue in their books and use sticky notes to mark the “evidence.” You can also have students complete the recording sheets "Inferring Character Traits—Action" and "Inferring Character Traits—Dialogue"  so that you actually see your students’ thinking and can assess their ability to infer character traits using evidence from the text. (While I do not love worksheets, I find that a written exercise holds my students more accountable than just attaching sticky notes to pages in their book. And since I can’t always confer with every child during the days we are practicing this skill, looking over the recording sheets after workshop helps me determine which students may need additional instruction.)  

Inferring Character Traits-action1 Inferring Character Traits-dialogue

Download my fiction resources" SMART Notebook file, which includes an "Inferring Character Traits" lesson using examples from Patricia Polacco's book Rotten Richie and the Ultimate Dare.


3. Studying Different Types of Conflict in Fiction Texts

P1080422 In her lesson "Using Picture Books to Teach Plot Development and Conflict Resolution," Lisa Storm Fink encourages students not to just state the conflict in the stories they read but to identify the specific type of conflict (character vs. self, character vs. character, character vs. nature, character vs. society). This forces my students to look more closely at the problem/conflict in the stories they are reading and to compare and contrast the conflicts in different stories.

In Lisa’s lesson, she provides a list of good picture books to use when studying the different types of conflict and a PowerPoint presentation that goes along with her lesson. You will also find a recording sheet similar to the conflict chart I recreated below. As students read books independently during Reading Workshop, they add the titles of the books they read to their own chart in the appropriate conflict column.  

Types of Conflict Chart

I use the posters below to introduce the types of conflict. You can also download PDF files of each poster: "Character vs. Character," "Character vs. Self," "Character vs. Society," and "Character vs. Nature."

Character vs. character Character vs. Nature Character vs. Society Character vs. Self

Once my students are familiar with each of the four types of conflict, I assign reading partners a specific picture book to read together. They receive a copy of the book cover and must place it on the correct conflict poster as seen in the photo below.


I also created a SMART Notebook file that allows students to do the same activity without paper and glue. This is a great assessment piece for this lesson.

Conflict chart1

Download my fiction resources SMART Notebook file, which includes the lesson you see in the photo above.

4. Using an “Interactive” Story Mountain to Track Plot Development

Story Mountain Since my students take part in a fiction writing unit soon after we finish our fiction reading unit, it is really important that they understand the idea of plot development. I like using a story mountain because students are able to see that in a good fiction text, the author does not just describe a problem and immediately have the characters solve it. The story mountain shows students the important (and predictable) parts of a complete story including the rising action, climax, falling action, and conclusion. Download story mountain.

To make my story mountain lesson interactive, I made a poster version of the story mountain and move a sticky note along the mountain as I read a picture book aloud to my class. Students are able to see how the plot progresses as I read the story, and we can really pinpoint and discuss the climax. The climax makes much more sense to students with the mountaintop metaphor. After teaching the lesson to the class, students are given an individual copy of the story mountain and use a small sticky note to track the plot development in the story they are reading during independent reading time.

IMG_2215 IMG_0168 [Desktop Resolution]

With the addition of a SMART Board in my classroom, I was able to make this lesson much more interactive. As I read aloud the book Julius, the Baby of the World, a student helps move a clip art drawing of Lilly, the main character, up and down the story mountain.

Again, my fiction resources SMART Notebook file includes the story mountain you see in the photo above.

5. Finding Common Themes in Fiction Texts

Common Themes in Books Most children’s authors write not only for the purpose of entertaining their readers, but also to teach readers important lessons. Finding the theme (or lesson) in a fictional story encourages students to really focus on the heart of the story. Thinking about how a character changed in the story or how a character’s actions in the story affected others helps my students determine the theme.

IMG_0050 Common themes are introduced as I read aloud carefully selected books to the class. (Visit Nancy Keane's Web site to find recommended books with common themes.) At the end of every book I read aloud, we discuss the theme as a class. If we think the book fits into one of the common themes, I print out a color copy of the book cover and add it to a specific theme poster in our classroom (see pictures below). I have found Google Images to be the best place to get quick copies of the front covers of the books. To make the best use of space in my classroom, I use the cupboards in the back of my classroom to display the theme posters. 

You can give the "Common Themes in Books" handout to your students to help them identify themes they will likely find in many of their fiction texts. However, it’s important that your students know that these are NOT the only themes that exist. As the year progresses, we add new themes to our list and make additional posters when necessary. You can download PDF files of the theme posters you see below:"Honesty," "Perseverance," "Cooperation," "Acceptance," "Compassion," "Courage," "Friendship," "Kindness," and "Responsibility."

Acceptance Compassion Courage Friendship Honesty Kindness Perseverance Responsibility Cooperation

For those of you interested in my other theme posters, including “Overcoming Challenges,” “Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things,” “Believe in Yourself,” Accepting Other’s Differences,” “Be Happy With What You Have,” etc., see my classroom Web site.


6. Reading Partnerships

IMG_2855 Students love to talk about what they are reading, especially when it comes to fiction. In our classroom, students take part in a reading partnership unit where they choose a double-copy chapter book to read with another student in the class. The students meet throughout their reading of the book to ask each other “thick” questions and discuss the plot. This is one of my favorite units of the school year, as students take the reins and really use all of the strategies and skills they have learned to share a unique and valuable reading experience with a fellow classmate. 

Double copy You can visit the Reading Partnerships section of my classroom Web site to see exactly what this unit looks like in my classroom, download printables for your students to use in their reading partnerships, and watch a video clip of an actual reading partnership discussion. You can also check out the unit "Reading Partnerships" that I created for the Scholastic Web site in 2007.

7. Mystery Detective Clubs

P1050992I love using mysteries in my classroom for so many reasons. First of all, as a 3rd grade teacher, there are many options: lots of the beginner chapter book series that are “just right” for my students are mystery series, including A-Z Mysteries, Jigsaw Jones, Boxcar Children, Third-Grade Detectives, Calendar Club Mysteries, Nancy Drew Notebooks, etc. Mysteries also promote the use of so many important reading strategies including inferring, asking questions, making predictions, etc.

To make this unit most exciting for my students, they become real detectives working together in detective clubs to solve a mystery in a book club setting. Students read their own copy of a chapter book mystery and keep track of important clues and suspects, but they meet multiple times throughout their reading to discuss the book with fellow reading detectives.  

P1060116 Check out the Reading Detectives section of my classroom Web site for more information. You can see exactly what this unit looks like in my classroom and download tons of printables to use for your own mystery genre study. You can also check out the unit "Exploring the Mystery Genre" that I created for the Scholastic Web site in 2007.


8. Class Book Awards

IMG_1215 [Desktop Resolution] I wrote a post about this last year, but it’s so fun that it’s worth mentioning again. While my students are able to nominate any genre of books when it comes to our Class Book Awards, fiction texts tend to populate the ballot. Perhaps that is because of the memorable characters, the valuable lessons learned, the silly plots, or the suspenseful drama. Whatever the reason, fiction texts seem to bring students together, as they often find a common interest in particular books of this genre. As you read my post, "Class Book Awards: Bring the Red Carpet to Your Classroom," you will find out how my students determine book award categories, nominate books from the classroom library, and take part in a special book award ceremony that includes an exciting red carpet event!


9. Weaving Technology Into Your Reading Curriculum

If you read my "Movie-Making in the Classroom" post from last year, you know that I enjoy making movies with my students. One year my students created a movie called “Lost in a Book.” We wrote and then filmed a fictional tale in which students actually went inside the books they were reading. Visit my classroom Web site to go behind the scenes of that movie to see how it was produced. You can also watch the final movie in Windows Media Player.

Amazon Movie


Megan_power My awesome Top Teaching colleague Megan Power recently wrote a blog post "Reading Book Projects With Flip Video, Digital Cameras, Web 2.0, and More." Her awesome project ideas help students practice comprehension skills, vocabulary, reading response, word work, and fluency through the use of very cool technology.  What’s most impressive is that she is doing it with her kindergarten students!  


10. Scholastic Author Interviews

Authortube Bring real authors into your classroom. That sounds expensive, right? Not when you use Scholastic’s Authortube! What better way to get your students excited about fiction texts than to show them real interviews with some well-known authors. Check out Scholastic’s Author Video Index to see which authors you will invite to your next Reading (or Writing) Workshop mini-lesson!



Reader Request 

Suzanne (comment #12) asked for resources for teaching students about a story's setting.  Below are some things that I use with my own students.

Elements of Setting1 Elements of Setting-blank
Download Elements of Setting   Download Elements of Setting-blank

 Check back next month for my Nonfiction Resources Top Ten List!


Comments (42)

To Beth Newingham:
I just found a product on Teachers Pay Teachers that has YOUR "common themes in literature" chart on it without any attribution. I directly asked if she had received permission to use your chart and she replied back that she was just GIVEN THE CHART BY ANOTHER TEACHER AND ASKED TO ADD DIRECTIONS TO THE TOP. It's really the same thing as your chart. Since my question, she has since made the download FREE. Not sure how many she sold prior to my question, and I'm sure this sort of thing happens a LOT with your stuff, but I thought you'd like to know. Here's the link to the item: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Theme-Common-Themes-Chart-Poster-1787464

Thank you for actually SHARING FOR FREE so much of what you have created over the years. I'm sure the number of teachers you have helped is in the hundreds of thousands, if not MILLIONS by now. God bless you, Beth Newingham!

Beth, I LOVE your character conflict posters! They are amazing and so helpful! I need to expand my posters to include Character vs Technology. I was wondering if you had added this to your group, as I would very much like it to match the others. I was going to make one, but it's not matching very well.

Hi Beth! Is there an alternative place to find the rest of the theme posters? They are awesome, but the school web page is not working anymore.

This is just great what fantastic ideas

Beth, I am always inspired by your wonderful ideas! Any thoughts on the best way to teach my 3rd grade students to write dialogue? They love using dialogue in their writing, but have a hard time remembering to identifying the speaker.

I was looking for info on your reading partnership thick questions and further info but when I clicked on the link it gave me an invalid path message. Are these still available?

At the end of summer I was able to view your resources on your class website. I am no longer able to get there. Can you help me with that? You had some great ideas for Reading bulletin boards and I would like to look at them again.

whoops!!! haha... sorry Beth, I couldn't find my previous comment, so I posted another one! :)

HI Beth, I am moving to third grade next year, and I am thrilled. One aspect that I want to cover at the beginning of the year is genre identification/study. This seems to be something that the studetns are struggling with k-5 in my building. I saw your unit on Mystery (which was amazing) and was wondering if you had any other ideas for other areas of fiction/nonfiction? Any ideas that you have would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!

Hi Beth, I am currently in a college class for my masters, and I was hoping that you had some ideas of lessons that you used for different genres? I saw your unit idea for Mystery, which was amazing, and was wondering if you would be willing to share some of your ideas that you used for other types of fiction and nonfiction. This is my first year in third grade, and I know that genre study and identification is something that the students in my school are struggling with. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!

Hello Beth, I love your website and your blogs. Next year I am going to implement reader's workshop and I'm very excited about it. One question, will you ever consider writing a book on reader's workshop? I hope you do because that would be a great resource for teachers.

Thanks, Christina

Karen (comment #28),

You asked if it was possible to convert SMART Notebook files to Promethian Board files. Here is link to the directions for that task: http://www2.smarttech.com/kbdoc/114274

Thanks for posting your thoughtful comments on my blog! I'm glad you like it!


New Teacher (comment #27),

You asked if I had any resources for literature circles. I do not do literature circles in my classroom, but I do reading partnerships. You can learn more about reading partnerships in #6 of this post. I hope this helps!


Hi Beth, Thank you for sharing your creative lessons and classroom resources. I feel like I won the lottery when I found the resources on your blog posts and classroom website. My district has Promethian boards. I would love to somehow download the Smartboard files you reference in this post to use with my Promethian board. Is that possible, or should I just stop dreaming and face reality?! :) Thanks again. You are an amazing inspiration in many ways!

Hi Beth,

I am a first year teacher. Your website and blog have been a true Godsend for me this year - THANK YOU. I read it on a daily basis! I am interested in introducing literacy circles in my second grade class. Do you have any great ideas on how I might begin this? And what roles the students should play in the group? I've read several blogs, but they just aren't appropriate for second/third graders. Thank you for your help!

Sara (comment #16),

For some reason I cannot find the file of the posters for the different types of endings. I will keep looking so that I can post a visual for you. I have them in my classroom printed out, but cannot find the actual file.

For now, here are descriptions of 3 types of endings:

1. Repeat the Lead: This type of ending echoes the lead

Examples: Lead: If you give a mouse a cookie... Ending: Chance are if he asks for a glass of milk, he's going to want a cookie to go with it.

2. Emotional Ending: This type of ending can be happy, sad, mysterious, funny, or surprising.

Example: I cannot remember a time in my life that I was as terrified as this experience at the zoo. I hope the tiger never scares me like that again!

3. Hope or Wish: In this type of ending, the writer shares a hope or wish that has something to do with the story.

Example: I wish that every Christmas could be a great as this one!

I hope this helps for now!


Angie (comments #19-21),

Thank you so much for posting your crative "Plot Graph" idea. I absoutely love it! What a great way to get your students to think more deeply about the plot in the stories you read as a class and in the books they read independently. I bet this could also be helpful for students to use when they are writing their own ficton stories.

Thanks again for sharing!


Jennifer (comment #18),

Thanks for your comments! I'm glad my resources were useful!


Monica (comment #17),

Thanks for sharing your blog with me!! I loved reading your posts and checking out your great resources on you teacher resource page. I also liked seeing that you are mom of 2 who has been teaching for 10 years. We have quite a bit in common. I can tell you are so passionate about your teaching! You certainly put a lot of time and effort into your work, and I know from experience that it's not easy once you start a family.

I also noticed you do SMART Board presentations. Do you post any of the SMART Board lessons that you create on your website?

Thanks for posting your comments on my blog! I am now following your blog:)


Sara (comment #16),

You asked if I also teach some lessons on endings. I have a handout saved on my school computer that I will try to add to my post tomorrow.


Oh boy! Please forgive the typos in the post. Too little time.

Hi Beth,

Thank you for your willingness to share your ideas. A number of teacher that I work with love your ideas and are putting them to use.

We have one to share with you. In this months post you talked about Story Mountain as a way to teach plot. In addition we use a Plot Graph help kids see the rising and falling action. This is also a great way practice summarizing what's happened in a chapter.

First, we set up a basic graph with an x axis labeled chapters and the y axis labeled excitement. Students, usually in pairs, take one of the chapters that we've read so far, summarized the main events, and write them on a sentence strip. This sentence strip is taped to the x axis. Then the class does a quick vote (1-10) on the level of excitement in the chapter. I usually quickly average this for them. We mark this with a point on the graph and as we add chapters we connect the points to make a line graph.

We've used this for Frindle and Snow Treasure and compared the different plot lines, but have been able to label the background, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution on both. This has also lead to a great discussion on how some authors lead with the excitement to hook you and then go back to explain how it's all come to be.

I'm trying to attach a picture through google docs. It's so much easier to see.

Thanks again for sharing. Hope you enjoy ours!


great resources. thanks

Beth...I love your blog. You have inspired me in so many ways. One way is... I have just started my first blog at http://schroederpage.blogspot.com/ I am doing a give away would love it if you would follow me. I also have launched a teacher resource webiste at www.theschroederpage.com There is also a link to my blog and a write up about me on www.teachlikearockstar.com. Thank you in advance for your support:)


You had shared some examples of great leads in narrative writing. They made it very easy for my students to understand good ways to start a story. Do you know of any resources or have any examples for teaching kids about writing closings/endings to their stories.


Karen (comment #13),

Thanks for your comments! I feel honored that my ideas help to inspire your teaching!


Suzanne (comment #12),

I added some resources for teaching setting. You will find them at the end of my post.

Also, you asked a great question about implementing a reading workshop while also being required to use a basal text.

The "basal" issue is one that I am approached about often. When I first began experimenting with reading workshop in my classroom, most teachers in my district were still using the basal we had adopted years ago. I had also been using the basal since it was the only thing that was provided to new teachers (in terms of a reading curriculum) when I started teaching in my district 10 years ago.

Even when teachers are using a basal text, there are still sequential lessons incorporated into units of study that are presented to students each month. When I first began transitioning from the basal text to a reading workshop approach, I tried turning the basal lessons into mini-lessons. I was, in a sense, teaching the basal content within the structure of a reading workshop. I ended up reading aloud many of the stories in the basal text that students were expected to read on their own. I then used them as mentor texts and referred to them when teaching my mini-lessons. Since the stories in a basal text are often "one size fits all," I did not feel bad about using them as a read aloud or even as a shared text. The stories were often well above or well below the students' "just right" reading levels in my classroom, so using them as read-aloud texts or shared reading texts made the most sense to me. I would teach the content I was expected to teach from the basal, but my students would practice using those skills and strategies in their own self-selected books from my classroom library.

While a basal text can be restrictive when trying to implement an authentic reading workshop, it certainly does not make it impossible. Creativity and flexibility on the part of the classroom teacher becomes essential to making it work!

I hope this helps answer your question!


Wow Beth! I so look forward to each idea you share. You are my inspiration :)

Beth, After being away from teaching for 7 years to be a stay at home, I'm back to full time teaching. I stumbled upon your blog. I am truly inspired! I have two questions:

1. In this blog, you touched on character, plot, conflict and theme. Do you have any suggestions on teaching setting? 2. I teach at a school that requires using the basal text. I really want to somehow weave some of the "Reading Workshop" ideas and elements into the school's curriculum/schedule. I'm thinking of taking the stories in the basal and at least grouping them by strategies/genres etc. and using them 3 days a week and then having a traditional Reading Workshop one day a week. I feel pulled by two different approaches! Any thoughts?

Also...I'm re-building my library and I don't feel like I have enough books yet to sustain a full time Readers Workshop.

Thank you!!!

Kay (comment #7),

You asked a great question about making sure the daily mini-lesson addresses the needs of all readers in your classroom.

First of all, I teach my reading mini-lessons in the context of larger genre studies. I teach a launching unit followed by genre studies including fiction, mystery, nonfiction, research, and poetry. Students also take part in a reading partnership unit and an author study unit where the lessons are very specific to what they are reading.

To make my mini-lessons most beneficial, students are required to have a certain number of books in their book boxes that match the genre we are currently studying. For example, when I am teaching the nonfiction unit of study, all students must have at least 5 nonfiction texts that are "just right" for them in their book box at all times. That way, when I teach a lesson on text features and expect them to complete a text feature task, all students have appropriate reading material. I usually ask that they spend at least half of their reading time engaged in texts that match the genre we are studying. However, I usually find that students really get excited about the genre we are studying in class, so I often do not even need to "force" them to read those types of books.

I hope I've helped answer your questions!


Michele (comment #6),

Thanks for reading my blog and posting your comments. I'm sure you are no slacker! Many of the ideas and resources I post are things I have created over many years, so it probably looks more impressive than it really is! Having 2 boys in the past three years has slowed me down quite a bit, so there are certainly times when I feel like a slacker too! I think it's allowed:)


Ashley (comment #4),

You asked how I determine what my students are doing during reading workshop. That is a big question that is best addressed based on the needs of your students, but I will attempt to explain how I manage what the students are doing my classroom during reading workshop. First of all, I assume you are referring to the individualized daily reading component of reading workshop time. After the 10 minute mini-lesson, I refer to the next 40-45 minutes as individualized daily reading (IDR). It is during this time that students may be reading independently, meeting with the teacher for guided reading or strategy groups, taking part in reading partnerships or book clubs, or having a one-on-one conference with me.

What students are doing during IDR depends on a few things. I’ll try to explain below.

1. Time of Year At the beginning of the school year, I am doing Fountas and Pinnell's benchmark reading assessments, so all students are reading independently (and completing short reading tasks) while I am testing one student at a time.

Once I have completed my assessments, students are given goals based on our CAFE menu. (To read more about CAFE, click here: http://www.thedailycafe.com/public/department45.cfm ). Once students have a CAFÉ goal, I really start working with them individually in one-on-one reading conferences and in strategy groups if multiple students are working toward the same goal. So, for the first couple of months, I tend to do a mix of individual conferring and strategy groups.

Once I get to know my readers well and we determine a "just right" reading level, I start adding guided reading groups to the mix. I do not abandon strategy lessons and conferring, but guided reading now becomes another way I can instruct and teach new strategies to my students while reinforcing skills and concepts I am teaching in my mini-lessons.

Here is an example of what a week might look like in my classroom in November: Monday: -2 guided reading groups (12-15 minutes each) -Confer with 3 students

Tuesday: -2 guided reading groups (12-15 minutes each) -1 strategy lesson (10 minutes)

Wednesday: 2 guided reading groups (12 minutes each) -Confer with 3 students

Thursday -2 guided reading groups (12-15 minutes each) -1 strategy lesson (10 minutes)

Friday -1 guided reading group (12-15 minutes) -Confer with 5-6 students

2. Current Unit of Study Depending on the unit of study, students are often involved in different activities during IDR time. For example, they are working in reading partnerships during our reading partnership unit and in book clubs during our mystery unit and author study unit. During our nonfiction unit, I tend to do more guided reading groups to expose them to more "just right" nonfiction texts that contain a variety of text features and text structures. During our research unit, I find myself conferring the majority of the time since students are researching different topics.

3. Student Needs Every year your class probably looks very different. When I have a large number of “high” readers, I find that I need to do less guided reading and more strategy lessons or conferring to push them to challenge them. When I have more low readers, I want to see them more often. For that reason, I am more likely to do more guided reading and strategy lessons so that I can provide instruction to more readers at one time.

Whenever students are not meeting with me (or with their reading partners or in book clubs), they are simply reading self-selected texts reading from their book boxes and working on using the strategy I taught in the mini-lesson that day. I hope I've helped answer your questions!


Claudia (comment #5),

Thanks for your comment about topic vs. theme. It is my understanding that the subject of the literary work is the topic the author writes about, while the theme is a statement about or an opinion on the topic (a lesson or moral underlying the plot). It is an idea that may be expressed by the feelings, thoughts and conversations of the main character. It may also answer the question, "What does the main character learn in the course of the story?" For example, the topic of a fiction story may be football, but the main character might learn a lesson about honesty, perseverance, teamwork, etc.

However, I do understand that you would prefer that the lessons learned/themes be written as statements rather than single words. My original posters (which I reference in the post) are written this way, but I changed them a couple of years ago to match the life skills we teach at our school. Here is a link to my old theme posters, written as phrases instead: http://hill.troy.k12.mi.us/staff/bnewingham/myweb3/indexthemesold.htm

If I get a chance today, I will try to add these posters to this post as well.


We were discussing the reading workshop yesterday and the question has come up, how the teacher can be sure that a Mini-Lesson will apply to all children's individual readings on that day? Suppose some children are reading non-fiction books on the day we are asking them to apply a fiction-related issue (like theme or topic) that we introduce that day? This blog entry seems to show really nicely that the Mini-Lessons apply across books. Still, we feel a bit insecure about this point and would be glad to hear your insights. Thank you so much for yet another interesting post!

Love your blog. Makes me feel like I have been slacking off! Thanks for sharing all of your great ideas and PDF's.

Please don't tell children that a topic is a theme. That confuses them when they need to recognize and discuss real themes in literature. Honesty, acceptance, etc. are topics of literature. A theme makes a statement about that topic and will be stated as a complete sentence.

I have to agree... while the posters are lovely for teaching the topics of these books, the theme is being missed. Theme = the message or lesson learned expressed in a complete thought. Ex. Slow and Steady wins the race. Topic = What they story is about in a word or two Ex. Acceptance, Being different.

Hi Beth, Thanks for another wonderful post! I actually had a question about your reading workshop. How do you determine what students are doing what. For example independent reading, reading partnerships, guided reading, lit circles etc.


Thank you!


Thanks for your nice comments! It sounds like you are looking forward to getting back in the classroom. I'm glad my resources will be useful to you!

You asked about the font I use that makes letters with dots. It is a font called LD Circles from a cd-rom called School Fonts I. It was made by Teachers Created Resources years ago. Unfortunately the cd is no longer available for purchase because it is discontinued.

However, here is a link to a very similar font called Scrap Circles: http://www.azfonts.net/load_font/scrap_circles.html


Thank you Beth, Queen of Third Grade, for all that you post to help us! I am not teaching this year (temporary job transfer for my husband out of the country) but CANNOT wait for next school year to use this cool stuff!!! I have a question about fonts! I know that you use Print Shop. What font do you use that makes the letters with the dots? Like the ones on the signs for Character vs. Self etc that the students place books on? I love that one but can't seem to find it on my PS. I am sure that I am just not seeing it. Thank you so much for everything you do!!!

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