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First Year Teacher Self-Study Course

First Year Teacher is a self-paced professional development course for novice K-3 teachers, developed by Reading Rockets. The program provides teachers with an in-depth knowledge of reading so they are prepared to guide their students into becoming skilled and enthusiastic readers.

Photo of teacher and students

Print Awareness: Assignments

Part 1: Watch The Roots of Reading, the first episode of Reading Rockets' Launching Young Readers series. Do you see things that you will use with your students?

Part 2: Come up with a format that you will follow every time you read a story to your students. The format should be interactive (it requires participation from both you and students).

You can use the sample format below or customize one that fits you and your students.

Prior to reading a story aloud

  • Introduce the story by stating the title, then the author's name and asking students, "What does an author do?" (Students should respond, "Writes the story.").
  • State the illustrator's name and ask, "What does an illustrator do?" (Students should respond, "Draws the pictures.").
  • Hold up the book and say, "This is the front of the book, (turn it sideways and state) and this is the spine." Turn the book to the back cover and state, "This is the back of the book." Then ask, "Do we begin reading from the front or the back of the book?" (Students should respond, "From the front.").
  • "Let's look at the picture on the front."
  • Hold up the book with the front cover facing the students. Ask: "What do you think will happen in this story? Remember, I want you to answer using complete sentences."

Before reading

  • Select vocabulary words from the story that you need to discuss prior to reading the story. Write them on sentence strips or on the board. Discuss the words with students.
  • Please note the use of open-ended questions that will require the students to give responses that extend beyond Yes/No answers. Remember to use open-ended questions as you read the story and in your discussion after the reading.
  • Encourage students to draw upon what they know about the words from their personal lives. For example, if the word is the verb fish, perhaps some of the children have gone on fishing trips with their parents. Encourage a brief telling of personal stories. Their personal stories allow students to make connections with the text.

During reading

  • Briefly discuss the pictures on each page after reading that page.
  • Encourage students to guess/predict what will happen next.

After reading

  • Ask students to tell you if they liked the story and why. Encourage responses in complete sentences. "I liked it when the little girl rescued her friends because it showed that girls can be heroes."
Print Awareness: Assignments
Diary of a First Year Teacher

Diary of a First Year Teacher

Join Barbara Zielinski, a first grade teacher at River Plaza Elementary School in Middletown, NJ, during her first year teaching.

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." — Dr. Seuss