Review of INTO THE BOOK online program

Wisconsin Media Lab, with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction created INTO THE BOOK, a free online program designed for the elementary classroom. This research-based resource is aligned to the common core standards. It is available with both English and Spanish texts!

When students first start the program, they will be asked their first name and given a key which they need to access the site in the future. After submitting their first name and receiving their key, they will be directed to the menu.

From the following choices, the student selects the skill they want to work on:

  • prior knowledge
  • making connections
  • questioning
  • visualizing
  • inferring
  • summarizing
  • evaluating
  • synthesizing
  • combined strategies

For example, I chose summarizing after logging in as a student, After watching a short video lesson of a classroom teacher explaining and modeling the skill, an activity appeared. Given a short passage about pirates, I was directed to select the main idea and supporting details then write a short summary online.

Try it yourself brings an engaging, interactive story. Students receive independent practice with the new skill. The pirate summarizing activity has students move through a dialogue with the head pirate Jelly Bones as he explains pirate skills. They drag and drop main ideas and supporting details to the correct location on the sail of the pirate ship. After completing the skills, students write a summary for a pirate handbook. These can be printed. The second activity asks the student to summarize directions to a treasure. This is accomplished by creating a map. Jelly Bones then describes his adventure and the student summarizes. Student work can be printed or emailed to the teacher.

Each of the strategies brings equally engaging and effective instruction.

The teacher tools section contains great teacher resources. It begins with a definition of the skill. A PDF teacher’s guide gives explicit teaching instructions. There is a link to the common core standards addressed by the lesson. A complete narration is just a click away so the teacher can instantly see what the students are hearing on the video.

This is not a “one and done” type of resource. Lessons are available to reinforce the strategy. For example, a click of the mouse brings the following lessons on summarizing:

  • summary ball
  • paper bag reports
  • artistic summary
  • fortune teller
  • reading response journal
  • story wheel
  • somebody/wanted/but/so

A book list is also available of books recommended from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. These books are chosen because they align well with the strategy taught.

The Teaching Tools component also contains nine videos, each approximately 15 minutes in length teaching each of the strategies in an entertaining and informative format. The video teaching guide gives before/during/after teaching suggestions.

Posters are available for each strategy in English or Spanish. The 8 1/2 x 11 posters are free and larger ones can be ordered from the website.

Each strategy also includes an audio file with a strategy song. The lyrics or sheet music can be downloaded directly from the site.


 Click the screenshot to go to Into the Book.

Need additional resources on these reading strategies? Check out these great resources from my TPT store.

  Do your students need help summarizing? Do they write way too much or not enough? This summarizing unit helps your students master this skill.

A handout explains the basics of summarizing.
A class activity “Share and Snare” is a teacher directed lesson giving students practice in summarizing.
A partner activity gives students a chance to practice called “Highlight and Reconstruct.”
Seven activities are provided for using the newspaper to summarize.
“Everybody Wanted But So” is used for a summarizing strategy using children’s stories.
Small groups work together to complete a variation on the jigsaw.
Six additional summarizing ideas are included:
exit tickets, gist, design a t-shirt, create a comic, post-it, acrostic

 Click to go to resource on TPT.

Students complete a close reading where they look at a passage from various viewpoints based upon their purpose for reading. Take a look at the scene from the perspective an employee? an investor? a customer? a robber? How do the important facts change based on your relationship to the scene?

Product includes a passage and questions directing students to uncover the differences of perspective.