Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Engaging Strategies for Classroom Libraries

Patricia McDaniels-Gomez, Shayna Pond, Mary Braggs | Published: March 2nd, 2022 by K20 Center


This professional learning session will focus on how to incorporate a love of reading and student choice into all classes. Participants will explore a variety of authentic strategies that support reading comprehension, substantive conversations, and student choice to gain a deeper understanding that engagement in reading is essential for academic success.

Essential Questions

  • What are the benefits of independent reading?

  • What does authentic engagement with reading look like?

  • How can teachers help their students become lifelong readers?

Learning Goals

  • Participants will explore various reading and writing strategies to promote student engagement.

  • Participants will analyze the pitfalls teachers should avoid when promoting free voluntary reading time.

  • Participants will reflect on how these strategies can increase academic achievement.

Materials List

  • Learning Slides

  • 10 High Interest Reading Selections

  • Strategy Cards for Stations

  • Engaging Strategies for Classroom Libraries Handout

  • "Positives and Pitfalls of Independent Reading" Handout

  • Book Talks Handout

  • 3-2-1 Handout


5 Minute(s)

Using the Learning Slides, display slide 2 and then move to reading the Essential Questions on slide 3 and summarizing the Learning Objectives on slide 4.

Introduce the 30-Second Expert strategy. This is a collaborative strategy that can be used to introduce new material or to review texts that students have read. Ask participants to speak on a book they have read that they have enjoyed. Show slide 5 for guidelines about the 30-second strategy. Each participant has 30 seconds to tell their group what the book is about and why they enjoyed it. Each person in the group should present. After everyone has finished, come together as a whole group and discuss.

Some participants may discuss books that they have read when they were in secondary or middle school or others may not like reading. The facilitator may want to point out that due to school's focus on testing, reading for entertainment gets forgotten.


25 Minute(s)

Guide participants to transition to a Stations activity. Show slide 6 and give each participant a 1-2 page high-interest reading handout and an instructional card. Ask them to read their high-interest reading and then move to the Instructional Card Station. The card attached to their reading is their first station. After this station, ask participants to rotate clockwise through three more stations.

Show slide 7 to discusses the process for participation in each station. Ask participants to read the directions for the instructional strategy. For example, participants who are in the Two Stars and a Wish station will identify two elements from their reading that they like and one wish that they'd like to see happen or something that confuses them. After 4 minutes, move the station participants to the next station, which will have a different instructional card.

Instruct each participant to transition through two Discussion Stations and two Writing Stations. Show slide 8, which lists all possible Discussion and Writing Stations. In order to make sure each participant goes through two writing and two reading strategies, alternate the order of the stations around the room between reading and writing strategies.

Move to slide 9. When everyone has gone through two Discussion stations and two Writing stations, invite the group as a whole, to discuss how engagement with the reading has changed (hopefully deepened) through participation with each station. Move to slide 10. Pass out the List of Strategies handout. Discuss how the participants can use these with their students.


15 Minute(s)

Transition to slide 11. Have participants Jigsaw the reading "Positives and Pitfalls of Independent Reading." Have Group 1 read the "Positives" and Group 2 read the "Pitfalls." While participants read their specified section, have them use the Why Lighting strategy to highlight important information. When finished, ask participants add their Why Lighting examples to the Padlet.

Show slide 12 in order to give participants a link to a Padlet. The Padlet will have two columns: "Positives of Independent Reading" and "Pitfalls of Independent Reading." Have participants add the highlighted items from their reading to the appropriate column. When everyone is finished, discuss how to avoid the Pitfalls.


10 Minute(s)

One of the Pitfalls to avoid is letting book choice become stale. Show slide 13 to introduce participants to strategies for creating and presenting a Book Talk. Book Talks are short, engaging descriptions of books that entice readers to want to read the book. Pass out the Book Talks - Engaging Strategies for Classroom Libraries handout and read through it. Have participants explore the different book talks on the Good Reads website and compare them to the suggestions in the Book Talks handout.

Show slide 14 to introduce participants to Flipgrid, a tech tool that enables teachers and students to create book talk videos and house them on a teacher's Flipgrid classroom. Flipgrid enables classrooms to create a classroom library of book talks where students can learn from peers about a book of interest. At the end of the year, the class can total how many books they have read.


5 Minute(s)

Move to slide 15. Ask participants to complete a 3-2-1. The 3-2-1 asks participants to identify three strategies they plan to implement in their classrooms; two ways these strategies can support academic achievement; and one obstacle that still exists. After a few minutes, discuss as a whole group.

Research Rationale

The Oklahoma Academic Standards in English states that Standard 8 is dedicated solely to independent reading and writing, stating that "Students will read independently for a variety of purposes and for extended periods of time. Students will select appropriate texts for specific purposes." This professional learning activity can support teachers and schools in meeting this standard.