Tag Archives: lesson plan

Reading Dailies: Daily Digital Reading Curriculum, Available Now


Contemporary classrooms need to engage students with digital tools—such as tablets and Chromebooks—and digital curricula. That was the intent behind Reading Dailies, a new digital curriculum designed to be delivered through tablets and computers. A teacher need only paste the lesson link into an assignment, and students can access a complete week of lessons that break down one of the Common Core reading standards and that include high-quality, complex, literary texts.

Reading Dailies, for grades 3–5, build students’ reading skills through weekly lessons that break down the skills students need to understand fiction and informational texts.


This supplemental reading program includes a Teacher’s Guide, 19 units, and 19 Checkpoint Assessments. Each unit and Checkpoint Assessment is available as an interactive HTML5 lesson or as a downloadable PDF, and each unit includes 3, 4, or 5 lessons designed to be completed in a single week. Each lesson takes about one day and requires students to read and reread a literary passage and write about it. A checkpoint at the end of each week assess students’ understanding of the main strategy, giving teachers the summative data they need to assess whether students have mastered the composite skills folded into one of the Common Core standards.


Reading Dailies offers students and teachers several features that make the program easy to use and convenient while still being rigorous.


Reading Dailies title pageMain strategy gives the overall big idea for students to understand

Skills show the smaller skills needed to master the overall strategy





instructionalsummaryInstructional summary allows teachers to walk through key instruction at the beginning of the week

Academic vocabulary is introduced at the beginning of the week and reinforced throughout the week




guidedcloserdgInstructional focus begins each lesson to establish clear focus

Quality literature can be found in each lesson to acquaint students with literary use of language and the vocabulary used in authentic texts

Focused responses provide students with scaffolding needed to delve into the text and understand it


responserubricResponse rubrics
give students clear criteria for what is required in a successful response





checkpointCheckpoint Assessments are summative assessments that afford students an opportunity to demonstrate mastery of each unit.






pacingEach unit is designed to be completed in a single week.

  • Start the week by introducing the unit and key concepts. Then allow about one day to complete each lesson.
  • Some students on their own may be able to complete a unit in less time, but the one day, one lesson pace allows time for students to work in small groups to discuss the passages and respond to them. Talking about the passages in small groups will benefit all learners and help them enrich their understanding of the passages.
  • Small groups will also support struggling readers and English Language Learners.
  • Throughout the week, encourage use of the academic vocabulary in the lesson in small-and whole-group settings.

To preview a G3 unit for free, visit http://store.greenlightlearningtools.com/product/rd301/

To preview a G4 unit for free, visit http://store.greenlightlearningtools.com/product/rd41/

To preview a G5 unit for free, visit http://store.greenlightlearningtools.com/product/rd501/



Helen Beyne has years of experience in creating innovative curriculum materials in reading, ESL, science, and social studies. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.

How to Create a Weekly Reading Routine

unpacking the standards

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Reading standards are big and complex, embedded with at least three or four smaller skills that warrant lessons on their own. A weekly reading routine that ‘unpacks’ literature standards into bite-size portions helps students become masterful, independent readers.

by Elizabeth Liberatore

Plan to turn complexity into comprehension

Reading, like any activity, requires plenty of practice to perfect. You cannot expect piano students to master a technically demanding score by Chopin or Beethoven unless it is practiced in bite-size portions. Reading is no different. Only when students are routinely exposed to quality literature with embedded skills that reinforce standards can students raise their literacy and comprehension skills.

“Unpack” Literature Standards in the Classroom

But how do you make a reading lesson equal parts attainable and rigorous for your students? You “unpack it.” Reading standards today are big and complex, embedded with at least three or four smaller skills. Students need to “make inferences” while also “explaining what the text says explicitly” and referring “to details and examples in a text.” Any one of those subskills warrants a lesson unto itself.

Small, bite-size skills help introduce your students to academic vocabulary, high frequency words, and other proficiencies needed to master the larger standard. Once students learn the subskills within a standard—such as reading and rereading, annotating unfamiliar and/or repetitive words, locating literary devices, and so forth—they will approach the larger standard with confidence. Assessments of each subskill within a standard allow you to better gauge students’ trouble spots in mastering the overall standard.

Make It Approachable Without Compromising Rigor

How often should students be practicing their reading? According to Dick Allington, author of What Really Matters for Struggling Readers: Designing Research-based Programs, students ought to read 300 minutes every week. That’s a lot. Constant distractions like entertainment on devices such as computers or iPads and students entering and exiting the classroom can make it difficult to allot that much time to reading without shortchanging other subjects. Even when 15–30 minutes of reading is spent in after-school programs or as homework, the suggested 300 minutes per week will be met only if students practice a daily reading routine in the classroom. That is, students need to read daily and practice mastering the skills they need to unravel today’s complex reading and literature standards.

Planning is teaching—teach a plan! Pack two ingredients into each week: clear, explicit instruction of key reading skills and sufficient reading of engaging, complex texts across all subjects. Take time to unpack the reading literature and informational text standards and work through them methodically. Then challenge students with complex texts on which they can practice the subskills they need to master. As long as your weekly reading routine has a consistent structure that students can easily digest, you can be assured that their comprehension and literacy skills will improve with every lesson they complete.

Connecting Content to the Real World with Project-Based Learning

by Erin Dye

connect to the world with project-based learning

Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Project-based learning has become an important alternative to more traditional methods of instruction and for good reason. It addresses the looming question many students have about what they learn in the classroom: Why do we need to know this? Not only does project-based learning help connect class content to the real world but it also helps students develop the skills they will need to operate in the real world—critical thinking, creativity, teamwork, and time management, among others. An effective project ideally should include the following:

  1. A Compelling Question. Think about what topics or issues actually interest or affect your students and how you can address that in your classroom. Come up with a creative way to introduce the driving question to your students. TECH TOOLS: Consider using Newsela to introduce a current issue, Google Earth to explore a location, or Prezi to create your own presentation that introduces the topic or issue.
  1. An Appropriate Timeline. Creating a project—instead of a simple assignment—means considering the amount of time your students will need to really develop their knowledge and skills as they work to address the question. A meaningful project will allow students enough time to really understand the driving question and develop an appropriate product to address it. TECH TOOLS: To help your students stay on track during the project, create a Google Calendar to share with them. You might also have students use an app to manage the tasks they must complete during different stages of the project.
  1. Clear Guidelines for Assessment. Because project-based learning includes activities that are less structured than those you might use with more traditional instruction, students need to understand how their progress will be assessed. Rubrics work well as a way of outlining your expectations for students at different stages of the project.TECH TOOLS: Use Google Drive to create and share a rubric with your students so that they can easily review how their performance will be measured during any stage of the project.
  1. A Final Product or Products. Because project-based learning is all about real-world use of class content, it’s important to give your students something to do that isn’t just dressed-up busywork. Think about what your students can create to help address the driving question for the project, and be flexible about what students can produce; allow them the space to think critically about how to address the question and use their creativity to develop a product. TECH TOOLS: The possibilities here are endless! Depending on the skill level of your students, you could have them create a podcast using PodOmatic, a blog using Blogger or Weebly, a video using iMovie, an electronic book using iBooks Author, or a presentation using Prezi or PowToon.       
  1. An Opportunity to Share the Product(s). Providing students with an opportunity to share one or more of the products of the project is an important way of reinforcing the project’s connection to the real world.  Whenever possible, have your students present their product(s) to an authentic audience—one that would likely see or use their products in the real world. TECH TOOLS: If your students’ final product is a performance, presentation, or address, they could share it with an otherwise inaccessible audience via Skype, Google Hangout, or other videoconferencing application.

Whatever project you develop for your students, choose tech tools that you think will both enhance the project—the process, the product(s), or both—and be easy for your students to use. Come back and let us know which tools worked best with your project and your students! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAErin Dye is Manager of Consulting Services for Green Light Professional Development and a Google Certified Educator. She has extensive experience creating digital materials for interactive whiteboards and iPads. She writes about technology integration and GLPD’s work in local schools.

How to Plan a Virtual Field Trip

by Erin Dye

Virtual Field Trip

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A few weeks ago, I posted an entry on the many different virtual field trips that are available online or as apps. I promised that I’d also walk through how to plan an effective and fun virtual field trip. So here goes!

For the purposes of this exercise, I’m going to choose one of the sample field trips that I mentioned last time: The Secret Annex Online.


Virtual Field Trip: The Secret Annex Online


  • Students experience the setting for The Diary of Anne Frank.
  • Students work toward understanding the hardships Jews faced during the WWII era.
  • Students build proficiency with technology, benefit from global communication and creativity, and analyze and evaluate multimedia.

Time Needed: One class period

Preparation: Students should have finished or be in the process of reading the book The Diary of Anne Frank.

  • Discuss the people who lived in the Secret Annex and their relationships to Anne.
  • Review key terms and places, such as Amsterdam, Nazis, Judaism, Holocaust, persecution, and concentration camp.

Pre-Trip Discussion:

  • What is the setting of this book?
  • Why is it important to understand the book’s setting?
  • Why is it important to remember Anne Frank and her family and friends?
  • What will we look for during our tour?

Logistics: I suggest you project the website on your whiteboard and allow several students to take turns managing the controls. If this isn’t possible, set up students on individual computers. Note that the activity is Flash-based, so it won’t work on iPads. There is audio available for each room, so make sure the sound is on and working.

Steps of Field Trip:

  • Enter the house and click to open the bookcase to reveal the secret apartment.
  • Ask students which rooms they would like to view first.
  • Once inside a room, ask students for their first impressions. Click the screen to show the space rendered with furniture and belongings. This will help students feel how small the space is.
  • Ask students to discuss how it might feel to live in such cramped quarters.
  • Ask students to compare and contrast Anne’s own description of the apartments with what they are seeing.
  • Continue through the apartment all the way to the attic room. Ask: Why would Anne feel the need to come up here to escape the rest of the group?
  • When the tour is complete and each room has been examined, ask students to research what happened to the residents and how Anne’s diary came to be published.

Post-Trip Discussion: Discuss students’ answers to the questions above. Ask what new things they learned from visiting the Secret Annex. Ask: Why is it important to preserve spaces like this one for people to learn about and visit? How did this tour change your understanding of The Diary of Anne Frank?

Post-Trip Homework: Ask students to perform research about the making of the website. They may also research actual images of the site and compare them to the animated renderings.

These steps are useful for any virtual field trip, whether you’re visiting the opera, an art museum, a natural history museum, the Great Barrier Reef, or the moon.

You can always modify the questions and outcomes based on what you expect students to learn. For example, at an art museum, encourage them to compare and contrast works or perform a scavenger hunt through the galleries.

A virtual field trip is an easy way to engage your students, with even less preparation needed on your part than a real field trip. Say good-bye to the permission form and boxed lunch!


Erin DyeErin Dye is Manager of Consulting Services for Green Light Professional Development. She has extensive experience creating digital materials for interactive whiteboards and iPads. She writes about technology integration and GLPD’s work in local schools.