I know what you’re thinking…first graders and second graders JUST reading that entire time???? Third graders, I can see that but first and second grade!?!?! YES!!! How is it possible??
Let me rewind and explain how I got to this point….
My first few years of teaching first and second grade, I used literacy centers. All of my focus was on learning how to implement guided reading groups effectively and I did not have enough time and energy to learn about the best, most effective practices that the OTHER students should be engaged in.
I spent LOTS of money at Lakeshore Learning and other teaching stores buying commercialized products for my students to be “engaged in.” I spent lots of time writing grants to fund the literacy centers. I spent lots of time cutting, gluing, stapling,and getting ideas online for how to make cute centers. I had parent helpers, family members, my boyfriend (a fourth grade teacher)…EVERYONE help me make centers. I made several different center charts and center rotations and experimented with which one worked best. I spent a lot of time teaching the directions and behaviors that I expected when the students were at literacy centers. My students seemed to like these activities. They liked interacting with their peers and liked having choices about what they were working on that week.
However, after a few years, I began to question all the time, money, and energy I was spending on centers and wondered if there was a better/easier/more effective way. I was getting the hang of this guided reading thing, even getting pretty good at it, and was ready to tackle the “what the other students are doing” issue. Were they really engaged in reading?? I was beginning to have these thoughts that I did not like pop into my head…how could I just “get rid” of everything that I spent so much time on!?! What other options were there?? After looking online on what other teachers did with their students during reading, I found that there was something called “reading workshop.” I didn’t really understand it at first and was pretty skeptical. Unfortunately, my district did not provide any professional development about a reading workshop approach. In fact, my district expected that our students be “engaged in literacy centers” and did not seem to support my **new** thinking about a workshop approach. So, I started to spend my money on awesome teacher resource books and I started to spend my time reading those books!
These books teach about using a reading workshop approach to teach reading.
I had many light bulb moments when reading these books! I LOVED the focus for the teacher: less is more, work smarter, not harder, and keep it simple. I LOVED the message for the students even more!!!!
Big ideas about reading workshop include:
After spending my summer researching and learning all I could about reading workshop, I was ready to start it with my students that fall. After all, I was already using writing workshop, so how different could it be…right!?
I began reading workshop with my second graders and used reading contracts with them. When I met with my students for guided reading groups, the other students were JUST reading…and writing. Writing about their reading that is!! The reader’s contracts were a packet of graphic organizers that we already reviewed during shared reading. The contracts gave my students the opportunity to read a just-right book of their choice and write about their thinking- all independently. And guess what!?! It “worked!” My second graders did great! They loved it! I loved it!
Now that I teach third grade, I only use the reader’s contracts with a few of my students. These special needs students benefit from the extra guidance the contracts provide. My other students however, “JUST READ!” It is awesome!!! I meet with groups at the guided reading table, look up at the rest of the students and sometimes I am still amazed. They are all in their own just-right reading spot, with their just-right reading book, with their book bin (or book shelf as Kathy Collins suggests!), and are reading! Some readers are flipping through their reader’s notebook and making notes about the day’s mini-lesson. A few readers are frantically writing their connections, visualizations, or thick questions on sticky notes. Other students are just reading. :)
So how does reading workshop look in my classroom??? First, here is my daily schedule from last year: Making Every minute count!
Here is a break down of Reading Workshop in my classroom.
Warning: Your students will not want to take their gloves off after teaching this lesson!! In fact, even though I taught this lesson in October, my students insisted on keeping their just-right reading gloves all year long in their desk!! I was happy to oblige even though we got a few weird looks from other teachers/students who walked into our classroom when we were reading and wearing our just right gloves! :)
I keep track of my mini-lessons I teach in a couple of places. One of the places is the bulletin board that all students can see:
After the mini-lesson, students are ready to “just” read! :) But, it is so much more powerful than that!
At this time, readers are engaged in reading just-right books that they choose at their independent readying level. Readers practice the skill/strategy that the teacher taught during the mini-lesson. The teacher provides instruction during reading conferences and guided reading groups. Readers also write about what they are reading in their reader’s notebooks, talk about books with other readers, buddy read to practice fluency, meet in literature groups and book buddy meetings, and read independently.
Here is an example that I actually use with my students!
I have run 2 marathons!
Reading partners read a book that is at their “just-right reading level” and a book they mutually agree on. (You can get double copy books from your library or Scholastic book orders!) Reading partners are assigned when I learn more about my students as readers and and find out who has a common interest/reading level. For example, I might have one girl who is an F&P instructional reading level of P and another girl (or boy!!) who is an F&P instructional reading level of Q. They also have a common interest of reading mysteries and their personalities complement each other they will make perfect reading partners! Reading partnerships and book buddies are a great way to get your students TALKING about books! It provides your students with the opportunity to discuss literature in a meaningful and engaging way.
The teacher BRIEFLY highlights the mini-lesson from the day. The teacher may highlight the work applied from the mini-lesson by explaining what a specific reader did that day. Students share what they did during their independent reading time with their reading partner. For example, a student might say, “Today I read about twisters in the National Geographic book. There were two words that were unfamiliar to me. Let me share them with you.”
I saved the best part for last….celebrations!!! Everyone loves a good celebration! I knew I loved Kathy Collins book when she emphasized the importance having celebrations in honor of your readers!!!
Here are a few of the celebrations we have:
Mrs. Claus was so kind to bring in cookies and milk for her read aloud.
As you can see, it does not take a lot to get your readers even more excited about reading!! Just throw in cookies and it is a celebration!!! :)
Wow..long post. Now you can see why we waited to write these posts during the summer!!! I am very impressed if you are still reading at this point! :) If you take one thing away from this post…have it be this: good readers become great readers by READING, “simply” reading just right books independently. I believe whole-heartedly that this workshop approach to teaching reading (and even writing and math) is the way to go with so many of our students who NEED differentiated instruction and small group instruction. As Sharon Taberski emphasizes in her book, highly qualified teachers and not programs are the most important thing to the success of our students. It is actually quite scary, yet empowering, to know the impact that TEACHERS, solely teachers, have on our students!
Reading Workshop Resource:
Reading Workshop- The reading file will help you implement reading workshop in your primary classroom.
Reading Workshop- The reading file will help you implement reading workshop in your primary classroom. Looking to implement reading workshop in your primary classroom? This 120 page file has everything you need to know in order to effectively implement a reading workshop approach with your rockin’ readers. More importantly, it will inspire your students to develop a love for reading time.
There are 23 mini-lessons that are included in this file, which focus on establishing routines and setting expectations for implement reading workshop with your students.
**Detailed lesson plans
**Colorful posters for you to print for your anchor charts
**Reproducibles for your students
During this unit, readers will learn to:
-Follow the structure of reader’s workshop (mini-lesson, independent reading, closing)
-Self-select books that “fit like a glove” from the classroom library
-Take a browse through the classroom library for just-right books
-Take ownership over the classroom library by cleaning book baskets and organizing books
-Use a book check out form to check out books in an organized manner
-Use library stick holders to aid their book shopping
-Use a shopping schedule to check out books on an assigned day
-Use book nooks to keep all their reading materials organized
-Celebrate the grand opening of the classroom library
-Commit to expected reading behavior- RW contract signing party
-Demonstrate specific behaviors of real readers (this includes a fun rockin’ reader art project)
-Build their reading stamina and chart growth
-Use reader notebook’s
-Read with a reading partner during reading partnerships
-Demonstrate expectations for reading partnerships
-Work together to solve problems that arise during reading partnerships
-Read with their partner and discuss the text
-Meet with the teacher for a reading conference
-Reflect on their reading partnerships
Click HERE to purchase Reading Workshop on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Save 10% by purchasing Reading Workshop directly from my website.
How do you rock reading workshop in your classroom????
Enough about us, we can’t wait to hear YOUR rockin’ reading workshop ideas!!!