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Friday, June 19, 2020

Readers Workshop: "The Heart of Readers Workshop"

In the previous Episode, The Mini-Lesson, we discussed how we provided the students with an explicit teaching of reading skills and/or strategies. Once the students have had this experience and provided time during the active engagement to try it out (with teacher support), we "launch" students out into their independent reading time. The length of this time will vary between grade levels and based on the students reading stamina. In the beginning of the year, student's stamina is much lower than it will be towards the end of the year (See the Balanced Literacy Framework for example reading times for different grade levels).

Students typically start off independently reading, applying the reading strategies previously learned during the mini-lesson. To help students remember all of the previously learned strategies, they may have a Readers Toolkit to house graphic organizers, strategy bookmarks, post-it notes to show their thinking, reading goals, or any other tools to support them as a reader. Students have a book box that contains book varying from library books, previously read books from Guided Reading/Strategy Groups, or look books from the classroom library. Based on if the student is an emergent reader, transitional reader, or fluent reader, the amount of books in their book box will vary. 

After students read independently, this is where the look of workshop will differ. I have been some teachers bring students back together for a class share, to voice how they applied the newly learned strategy in their reading, then re-launch them to read in a different manner then come back together at the end. I have also seen teachers transition students straight into reading in another manner then not share until the end. 

Students can transition to any of the following (depending on their grade level):

Partner reading:
During partner reading students sit knee to knee/elbow to elbow reading together and applying the learned reading strategy. Students will coach each other through their reading. 

Partnerships:
Reading partnerships are where pairs of readers support each other during reading, thinking and talking about a text. Similar to partner reading, but with more discussion of the text. 

Book Clubs:
Book clubs are where small groups of come together to discuss a common text. Prior to coming together for a discussion over part of their book, students would have read independently the sections they agreed upon to then come together to discuss ideas from the text. For book clubs each student has their own copy of the text. For an example of an amazing book club, visit here!

During the time students are reading independently, reading with a partner, working in small groups with the teacher, and/or working in partnerships or book clubs, one way that we work to differentiate instruction is through conferring with readers. It is often said that conferring is where the magic happens. Conferring with readers gives us an opportunity to pull up a chair next to a reader and hear about the work they are trying out, and the ways they are thinking about the text. It allows us to notice, name, and affirm them as readers while also pushing the student to grow with a “next step,” if you will. To see a conference in action, visit here!

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