Each year for reading month, I like to make sure I have lots of activities going on to emphasize just how important reading is. Some grade levels focus heavily on Dr. Seuss, while others complete book tournaments such as Reading Star or Book Madness. A few years ago, our school got together and had a Reading Rally. This was one activity that really engaged my students and, in the end, created readers!
What Is Reading Rally?
In short Reading Rally is when students travel from one themed room to the next in the building, reading 15 minutes at a time in each room.
The Reading Rally Rooms
About a week or two before the big event, a sign up sheet appears in the teacher’s lounge for teachers to sign up for what they would like their reading room to be during this event. Each teacher in the building needs to pick a theme for their room that is different from the others. For instance, one teacher may be the “flashlight room,” where everyone brings books and reads with flashlights. Another teacher may have a “beach” theme, where she will decorate the room with beach blankets, beach balls, beach chairs, a small kiddie pool, and maybe even a little sand, if she dares. Another room may be the “comic strip room,” where the teacher fills the room with comic strips and comic books. The imagination is limitless! I have seen so many unique ideas. One year, I brought in a bunch of blankets and sheets and created those forts that kids make with furniture! It was so much fun. I have seen a “gum room,” where students get to chew gum (only in that room- they have to spit it out before leaving), a teddy bear room, bean bag room, a read aloud room, and so much more.
Splitting Students up for Reading Rally
Next, each teacher gets about five index cards and splits their students up into groups. Then, they place a star next to the student who they feel would be a good leader in the group. Since the students are traveling from room to room to read (not horse around), I wanted to make sure that I grouped my students based on behavior. I did not let friends travel with friends. It was sometimes a difficult task (especially by this time of the year!). These cards were all turned in to one teacher who decided which groups were going where.
A map was created of the entire building and the traveling rotation. Each room was provided with numbers. For instance, my room would be room 8. I would have a sign outside by door that would read, “Room 8 – Graphic Novels Room.” The teacher next door would be room 9, then 10, so on. We also placed arrows for the kiddos.
One index card from each grade level was placed in each room to start. So, each teacher had in their classroom a span of grade levels. Of course, not every teacher in the school would have a student from each class but would have approximately a class size. A few days before the Reading Rally, teachers would be provided with a list of what room their students were going to start the rotation in and what kiddos were grouped together. This could help us figure out what kids were in our room each rotation, if needed. This also helped us prepare students ahead of time for where they were going during Reading Rally.
The Reading Rally Rotations
Not every rotation started in room 1. The older kids, fourth graders, would be the leaders of the entire rotation group. Some of the fourth graders would stand at the front of the line when it was time to go to the next room, while some would stand at the back to make sure all the cutie pies got to where they needed to go. This also insured that they rotated correctly. If a student started in room 8, then they rotated next to 9, so on. Unfortunately, the students did not visit all the different themed rooms.
Each student would arrive in their assigned room. Each teacher would welcome them all and briefly explain their rules. Then, some would quickly do a read aloud, while others would let the students begin reading right away. Students always brought their own book bag, book box, or books to read, but each teacher also had books laid out for them to choose from. Students had to be reading during the Reading Rally time, so if they were going to choose a different book, then it needed to be right away.
Most teachers allowed the students to sit or lay down anywhere they desired in the room. For the most part, the rules were “just to read.” After approximately 15 minutes, the school secretary would come over the intercom and announce that it was time for the next rotation. Students would return any books, clean up, and line up. Then, once the teacher was ready, she dismissed them for their next themed room.
After all the rotations occurred for that amount of time, the students returned to their classroom to prepare to go home for the day. I believe we scheduled an hour and a half total for our rotations – meaning students rotated six times.
The students enjoyed the activity, and the change of environment made reading engaging.
If you decide to try Reading Rally in your school, be sure to let me know how it goes! I’d love to hear all about it.