Have you ever used Reading A-Z in your classroom? As a long-time first-grade teacher, I’ll always be a big fan! This online reading program is jam-packed with ready to use reading resources and it’s the perfect way to help your students grow in their reading abilities each week. If you’re looking for ways to make the Reading A-Z curriculum more effective in your room, you’re in the right place! Today I’m sharing exactly how I used Reading A-Z in the classroom!
What Is Reading A-Z?
Reading A-Z is a collection of leveled readers and teaching resources designed to help children progress with reading. These resources are available on the Reading A-Z website with the purchase of a subscription. Each subscription will come with printable books aligned to specific levels, that promote slow and steady growth in reading over time.
Many schools and teachers have adopted the Reading A-Z materials because they provide such a great way to help children expand their reading skills through fun books aligned perfectly to their level. In my classroom, we used these frequently in guided reading groups. I loved that the books were aligned with Common Core standards and helped my kiddos grow in phonological awareness each day.
The decodable student books typically come with additional materials like reader’s theater scripts, reading worksheets, and assessments. However, I found myself wanting even more materials to go along with these great books. My kiddos loved these texts so much, I knew I wanted to create companion studies to go with them to extend our use of the Reading A-Z texts.
Getting The Most Out Of Reading A-Z
When using the Reading A-Z texts, you’ll want to consider how you can best make them fit the needs of your group. This will of course mean assessing your students and grouping them by ability, which the training resources for this program will cover. But in my opinion, the real magic happens when you supplement those texts with engaging materials to enhance student learning.
The supplemental resources I created to align with Reading A-Z will help with overall comprehension of the texts as well as a deeper dive into sight words and vocabulary words for each book. You’ll also find additional assessments to help you get a snapshot of student comprehension.
Over the years, I found that combining these texts with my supplemental materials was the perfect way to extend our activities. We used the books all week long and ultimately they helped my kiddos grow their reading skills exponentially!
Craft A System For Guided Reading
In my classroom, I liked to use a specific method for making the most out of the Reading A-Z system. To get started, after kiddos are assessed and grouped by ability, I copied off all the books for each level and labeled plastic zipper bags for each one. Inside the bags, I put the book along with a word list, and flashcards I created to help students focus on sight words within the texts.
These book bag packages got sent home with students 2-3 days a week. Students were instructed to read the flashcards and books each night. Then, during small groups, we would do the same and I’d often have kiddos partner up and practice flashcards together. Typically, we worked on a book for a week or so and then moved on to a new one the following week.
One of my favorite things about the Reading A-Z system is that the books are printable. This eliminated a lot of the worry I had with sending “real” books home for kiddos to practice with. Since my students were used to this weekly routine of bringing books to and from school, the books were rarely lost. But in the case that they were, I could easily just print a new copy and all was well!
SUPPLEMENT READING WITH COMPREHENSION ACTIVITIES
In addition to the flashcards and word lists, I created a few other supplemental activities for each text that I found to be so helpful in extending our activities. In each of my book companion resources, I made sure to include a variety of activities like:
- Word lists
- Vocabulary & sight word flashcards
- Main idea worksheets
- Story reflection activities
- Writing prompts
- Word “detective” pages
- Comprehension questions
Over the years, I found the best way to use these materials was in our small groups. After reading the text a few times, I would assign a specific writing prompt to our small groups. After students finished, I always opened the floor for conversation. Taking time to allow students to share ideas about what they wrote really helped to cement their comprehension of the main idea in each text.
These pages were also great for extra practice in the form of homework assignments. I found the comprehension questions to be a great activity for homework. I often encouraged students to be “detectives” and use their books to help answer the questions. Finally, we’d complete an assessment of the text to determine understanding before moving on to a new book.
BENEFITS OF READING A-Z
This system was such a lifesaver throughout my busy days in the first-grade classroom. If you teach in the primary grades, I know you’re stretched thin. With so many learning goals and concepts to cover or a daily basis saving time is always a benefit!
Using a system like Reading A-Z with supplemental materials is an easy way to provide quality reading instruction. With everything you need for phonological awareness, guided reading, and reading comprehension, you can be confident with Reading A-Z resources.
As a busy teacher, I loved knowing that our reading curriculum was set for the day. I could rest easy knowing each week my kiddos would be progressing at a steady level. Plus, the addition of the supplemental materials was a total game-changer! They ensured my students got the most out of this system. I loved that the supplemental activities provided additional opportunities for a deeper understanding of the story themes and main idea.
Try Reading A-Z In Your Classroom
Are you ready to give this reading system a shot in your own classroom? Maybe you’re already using Reading A-Z and want supplemental resources? Either way, I’ve got you covered! You can head over to my TpT Store and see all of the book companions I’ve created for these texts!
In my shop, you’ll find 25 different companions for levels D-H, perfect for first graders. Or check out the entire bundle if you want to grab them all. You’ll be set for a whole year of guided reading activities that will motivate and encourage your kiddos!
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Pin this post on your classroom Pinterest board so you’ll have easy access to these guided reading activities!