Things I Wish I Had Known: Implementing Bookworms K–5 Reading & Writing

Educators using Bookworms K–5 Reading & Writing share their implementation advice and new understandings.

Watching the Bookworms K–5 Reading & Writing Facebook and Twitter communities, video chats with Community Coaches, and collaborations beyond school walls has been an incredible experience. The passion behind the voices of educators using the resource is bar none.

Learning and developing conceptions are best channeled when they are passed along to others for learning and growth. So, we asked teachers using Bookworms for their advice and learning.


Iysha Dent – Open Up Resources Literacy Specialist

It Takes Work. I have taught the Bookworms K–5 Reading & Writing curriculum for 5 years. Now, it is second nature with some improvements each year. However, this has not always been the case. To utilize the Bookworms Reading & Writing curriculum effectively, it takes work. With that being said, planning, previewing, and prep is a must. All the components (i.e. assessments, copies, vocabulary cards, writing prompts, etc.) are not provided. This is both a blessing and a curse. It leaves a lot of creativity up to the educator but it requires a lot of work before teaching a single lesson. The great part about doing the work is that it will be done for the following years! It only has to be done once! Then, you are able to make improvements or amendments each year based on your class.The first year is tough, I won’t lie. When you work with your grade-level teams, academic coaches, and the Bookworms Curriculum Coaches, you can be successful. I love the curriculum and each year, I like it a little more. I love watching my students grow!


Sandra Bonanno – 1st Grade Teacher, Open Up Resources Community Coach

If students are struggling then it is okay to change the script.

Early on, I realized that not all students would be able to work independently during DI Block time. I found that if I took a small group while others were partner reading, I could read the book to them, discuss it, and then dive into the writing portion. This gave students greater understanding of the book and the question that was being asked. It also provided a safe place to discuss and come up with an answer together. I also found they had pride in finishing their work and wanted to share. In time, the group became smaller and more were willing to try it more independently.


Shannon Warnock – Reading Interventionist, Open Up Resources Community Coach

I have worked with Bookworms K-5 Reading & Writing curriculum for 4 years. Each year I continue to learn more about Bookworms. In addition to learning, I have also learned the importance of following the Bookworms curriculum with integrity to maximize student achievement. In doing so, you are still able to be creative and make the lessons your own based on student needs. Embrace the curriculum, it truly does work. Student growth is unprecedented. 

For your DI Block, plan with your teams and share student groups. This will allow teachers to maximize their instructional time to meet the needs of ALL students. Overall, embracing the curriculum, teaching with fidelity, and collaborating with your teams will help you in your classroom tremendously. I love the Bookworms K–5 Reading & Writing curriculum and as I continue to learn and grow, my love for Bookworms grows. Trust the process. 


Theresa Wills – Classroom Teacher

  1. Script does not mean etched in stone.  When I first learned about Bookworms, and found that it was a scripted curriculum, I thought: Do I have to read this verbatim each day? Do I carry the manual around? Will I be able to differentiate using the script? I was coming from a school that did not use a scripted curriculum for reading. I had to learn how to blend what I knew about teaching reading and what was being told to me to teach about reading cohesively without feeling like my teaching style did not matter. Well, during my time teaching the curriculum I learned some things. I learned that the script is a necessary guide which tells you what you are teaching in the curriculum; how it should flow in your classroom; and what resources that can or should be used.

    I also learned that scripts are not all written in stone; adjustments can be made.  And it is okay to ask your colleagues or coaches what adjustments or changes can be made for your classroom. During one of our grade level’s PLC where Dr. Walpole was meeting with us about Bookworms, I had some ideas about where changes could be made for my learners, and one of those ideas centered on the discussion questions that have to be asked at the end of each reading. I shared how the discussions can take up more time than is allotted on our schedule, but I was not sure if I could curtail these questions for my class. She explained that the questions are necessary, and align with the reading, but all of them do not have to be asked. It is important to ask those questions that have deeper meaning, where students have to infer and show they comprehend what we just read by giving details in their responses. This allows me to scaffold where needed based on my student’s needs, all the while still being able to respect my teaching style, complete the goal, and not deviate too far from the script.  

  2. Teamwork makes the dream work. I learned early on that it is okay to ask for help from others.  Collaboration is key! Check in with your team weekly to see how things are going during weekly meetings or just passing by in the hallway. These check-ins are useful and will save an abundance of time for you if you were planning or creating additional materials for your classroom to use with the curriculum. Your colleagues may have that resource already created. Another great staff resource is the librarian. The writing block of Bookworms contains lessons that require students to research information for writing. The librarian is always willing to help and will offer assistance gathering materials your students may need for their writing, saving you more time. Librarians may also offer to teach students the art of researching, which will help you in the long run for future writing projects. Specialists are always willing to collaborate with classroom teachers, offering other ways to assist with lessons in the classroom. Remember, we are all in this together!