The Teacher Tip

Set the Tone for Calm Transitions to Reading Time

August 8, 2017

Adapted from Units ofStudy for Teaching Reading, Grade 3 by Lucy Calkins and Kathleen Tolan

Unit: Building a Reading Life

Transition times can be a challenge, but you don’t have to resign yourself to the chaos. Make your transitions calm by establishing efficient routines right away. When moving from whole-class instruction to independent reading time, start by sending one group of kids off to read while you keep the others in the meeting area. Observe the readers, and celebrate the behaviors that you expect. “Look, Isaac has already settled into reading!

So has Tyrell! Let’s see how the other readers at Table 1 find a good book for themselves and start reading.” Talk loudly enough that the children who are reading can hear you as well, so they know you are watching and admiring their way of handling this transition. Before long, you’ll be able to say simply, “Off you go!” and your students will head directly back to their work spots and dive right into reading without additional commands.

To learn more about Units of Study for Teaching Reading and to download sample materials, visit


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