Simple recipe...

For Shireland’s approach to differentiating books

by reading level for Topics or Transition




Supporting Transition and Differentiation

Before you use RM Books for Transition or Differentiating Texts by Student Reading Level, have a quick read of Shireland Collegiate Academy’s simple recipe for success: 

  1. Understand your students’ reading level
  2. Group up your students by project and reading level, find and allocate books
  3. Add value to books with annotations and quizzes to aid and test comprehension
  4. Introduce your project to your students
  5. Use auto-marked quiz dashboard to personalise next interaction



You will need:

  • A (free) RM Books ebook account for your school. Register here.
  • Staff and student accounts with RM Books. Ask your IT team to create logins by CSV importing users from your school MIS, or have your staff and student roll maintained automatically in RM Books by using the RM Unify single-sign-on system. For your transition students, those students currently in year 6 in their Primary schools that aren’t yet on your roll, you can import those students by CSV to create them RM Books logins early so they are set to do their reading ahead of summer school. Setup will take about an hour.
  • Create Groups by reading level using your Transition students’ Key Stage 2 results in reading. (For your students already in roll, use your school’s own reading level that’s recorded in your school MIS). You could also ask your IT or administration team to do this for you. For example, to setup a Group for KS2 Level 3 readers: login with an admin account, then “Manage” > “Groups” > “Create new Group” called ‘KS2 Level 3’ > “Quick add”, then past in the full names of all of your Level 3 students, correcting any mismatches > “Make School-wide Group”. All teachers can now dip into this group. You can do the same to group up your students by other useful attributes, such as boys/girls, EAL, SEN, FSM, Transition, timetabled subjects, G&T etc.





  • Some ebooks credit. Admin accounts can order credit from within RM Books via the secure checkout, paying by invoice, from “Manage” > “Credit” > “Add credit”. Alternatively, phone 08450 700 300 to order credit.
  • Delegate credit to teachers for this project. Admin accounts can set teachers a credit limit so you can budget for this study. Each teacher won’t need a large limit as most book short rentals are under £1.
  • Train teachers so they know how to use Filters and Wishlists to choose books, then Groups to quickly bulk-allocate those books to students.
  • Select your students to participate in the project. For example, they could be a year-group studying a particular topic, or the Transition set of Year 6s. 


  • Wherever possible, use the same reading attainment test pre and post project. Shireland Collegiate Academy use the popular Star Reader and Accelerated Reader from Renaissance Learning as a great way to understand the reading levels the students are starting from and subsequently progress made. You could use your Key Stage 2 assessment information for your prospective Transition students to understand the variation in their reading level.



  • You may also want to include a simple reading habits and reading motivation questionnaire so you can track how both change before, during and after your study. Here’s an example of suitable questionnaires for staff and students.
  • Make sure students know their own “book level”, so they can use that to help find the right books for them.

  • You can use Groups in RM Books to push books out quickly to multiple students, rather than one by one. Your admin team should have set-up school-wide Groups in RM Books for Transition students, reading level, EAL, SEN, FSM, timetable information, and any other attribute you requested. You can overlap those groups to quickly find students that fall into both and save that overlap as a separate personal Group just for you. 
  • For example: create a Group for Transition students who reached Level 2 at KS2 for reading, by: logging in to RM Books > Manage > Groups > Add Group > name it “Transition KS2 Level 2” and Create Group > Add/Edit > click Group at the top > select your Transition group from the pull down menu > click “+” > select KS2 Level 2 from the next pull down menu” > choose to match “All” so you have the overlap of students between the two groups rather than any student falling into either group > click the box to the left of “Name” to select all the students falling into that overlap > OK > Save Changes.
  • You now have your own Group to allocate easier level books to those Transition students with a lower reading level for your summer school programme. Similarly you could create three other groups for your Transition project for KS2 Level 3, Level 4 and Level 5 and above. 
  • Using these four groups you can now quickly personalise the level of books you allocate for this project.
Section 4d
  • You can find books by combining (top right) search with left-hand filters. Filtering by reading age and interest age helps you find high-low and low-high books. Within the Education Purpose filter there’s also a category called Reluctant Readers. Whether you use Accelerated Reader in your school or not, you can use the AR Book Level to find books by reading level. 
  • Clicking the book cover thumbnail will take to more information about that book and the option to preview the first few pages. Once you’ve found books you think suitable, you can add them to your wishlist by clicking the drop-down arrow next to the Allocate button then selecting “Add to wishlist”. This acts like bookmarking webpages and makes it quicker to find the titles you want to use later. To see all the books in your wishlist, click Bookshop > My wishlist.
  • To allocate a chosen book to a number of your students, click Allocate > A Group > select the group you want to use > choose whether you want to rent or buy the book and if rental the time period you’d like your students to have it for (e.g. rent for 30 days) > Allocate now > Confirm Allocation. Your students will now have the books next time they login or open their offline App (when it has an internet connection).


3. Add value to books with annotations and quizzes to aid and test comprehension

  • The new reading experience in RM Books enables you to create and manage Book notes.
  • You can aid students’ understanding of the book by adding your own text, web links to other helpful resources, YouTube videos, images, your own video, audio, and worksheet as attachments. As well as helping students understand concepts better this also makes for a more engaging reading experience which may help increase time spent reading. You can test students’ comprehension by adding mid-book quizzes. When quizzes are completed the results are auto-marked and summarised back to you. You can also start a discussion with a comment, bookmark pages, discover the meaning of a word, search the book for words or highlight text.
  • To add an overlay, select the necessary text using the Select tool and choose Create overlay > choose the type of annotation to add.
  • Quizzes are an excellent way to test students’ understanding of the text. Select the quiz icon > name your quiz > choose quiz settings then click Next to start building the quiz content. There are four different types of questions to choose from: Multiple Choice (single answer), Multiple Choice (multiple answer), True or False, and Short Answers. You can add images, sounds or video to the quizzes to make them more engaging. Enter a question and choose a question type from the drop down menu. Then, fill out the question choices accordingly without forgetting to indicate the right answers. Once done, click on the Finish button. 
Section 5
  • If you want to edit any of your annotations, right-click on the icon and you have the options to edit the overlay, edit the appearance of the overlay or delete the overlay.
  • Once you have created your annotations they are stored in your Book notes. They are stored separately from the books, so even if your book rental period has expired you still have your Books Notes for next time. From here you can request a copy of your teaching colleagues’ Book Notes – for example you could share the task of annotating books for a particular topic between your team. 
  • You can push out your Book Notes annotations to students by choosing Book notes > Share > then select the Group of students you’d like to receive your annotations (or select students individually) > Save changes. Now when you allocate those students the corresponding book, their copy of the book will inherit your annotations. Note, for the rest of 2014, you need to read online to see the Book Notes.
  • Teachers at Shireland found that the new interactive features were intuitive and incredibly easy to use, and their students were more engaged by annotated books.

4. Introduce your project to your students

  • To start their annual Transition project, Shireland visit their main feeder Primaries (not all, there are over 30) to introduce the summer school challenge to the Year 6 students during the summer term. A project Summer Challenge Pack of resources, including students’ RM Books login details, are mailed home to parents and guardians, to involve families too. 
  • Send students their logins directly. They will no doubt discover the offline apps for themselves. This email template will help you do that quickly.
  • Explain to students that they can read whenever they like, including at home on games systems, their own phones or tablets, as well as in school on devices in rooms X, Y, Z and the library, and when those rooms are open. You don’t want any barriers to reading and many students do most of their reading at home.
  • Show students how to look-up all words they don’t understand using the built-in dictionary.
  • If you’re going to include a prize or incentive for the most books read, most Accelerated Reader points accrued, or the most progress in reading level made, then tell everyone about it from day one, keep it simple and provide regular updates on progress.
  • Support this project with timetabled reading time. 
  • Provide internet-connected devices (PCs, tablets, netbooks) for all students during that time, or, trust students to use their own SmartPhones or tablets for reading at school.



5. Use auto-marked quiz dashboard to personalise next interaction

  • You can easily monitor which students are reading which books and for how long using the “Reports” section of RM Books. Choose “Users” and select your students to see a breakdown. Optionally, if you’ve added these students to a Group, e.g. “Transition KS2 Level 2”, selecting that group will speed-up finding students. You can export this reading data for your records.
  • This usage reporting is only visible to teachers. You could choose to show students you have these screens and use the data with students in one-to-one discussions or make a fun competition out of the reading stats.
  • After using the quiz facility to test the student’s knowledge and understanding of a book, the assessment reports show you the automarked results in an actionable dashboard. You can drill into a subset of the overall quiz’s results using filters, e.g. just showing your Transition KS2 Level 2 readers’ results rather than all Transition students.





  • Variation in results between students tells you who you now need to focus additional individual support time with. Questions that have commonly been answered incorrectly suggest areas that you need to spend more whole class time on. You can export this formative assessment data for your records, if you wish.
  • Rerun your reading level test, such as Star Reader, at the end of each term to provide a regular tracking of whether reading level is improving as a result of the reading that’s been going on. 
  • Use reading monitoring to engage in a dialogue about books with your students, to intervene where progress is not being made, and as evidence to praise progress.


I’m very comfortable recommending to other heads that they ought to look at RM Books as a solution which will increase levels of engagement and absolutely will increase levels of achievement.
Sir Mark Grundy, Executive Principal