Saturday, September 19, 2015

Celebrate: Reading Workshop

Today I "celebrate" the concept of a Reading Workshop!

For many years, professionals have battled over the "best" way to teach reading; however, the idea of a Reading Workshop, where learners are engaged in authentic learning activities has endured for 20 years!  

It works because it stresses students interacting with texts.  It has whole group, small group and independent reading experiences.  There is modeling, thinking aloud, strategy instruction,targeted instruction, and ongoing assessments.  It works because there is a predictable structure and guaranteed time for daily reading, sharing, and questioning.

Reading Workshops begin with a Mini-Lesson that lasts 7-10 minutes.  Each mini lesson has a specific focus on "teaching point." Usually the teacher will model or demonstrate the skill or strategy and then give students a chance to practice it by themselves or with a "talking partner" during a "turn and talk."  Often the teacher uses chart paper as a visual record and reminder of the lesson. During this period of "active engagement" there is an expectation that students will attempt to use this strategy during their own reading time. Classroom read aloud texts often become mentor texts through rereading or referring to previously read sections.  

Independent daily reading time where students are engaged in self-selected texts is a critical piece of a Reading Workshop.  Depending on the classroom structure, students may not always be sitting at a desk when they are reading.  It's important to be comfortable and focused; thus, reading carrels, pillows and reading corners are all important in setting the stage for reading.  Shopping for books in the classroom or the library usually takes place at set times in order to assure maximum reading time.

Students share their reading progress through sticky notes, Conferences with teachers and or book logs.  A reader's notebook is also an important tool in helping to understand students' thinking about books.  

Differentiation takes place through Guided Reading and Strategy Groups.  While most are reading self selected texts, the teacher is of guiding small groups of students reading at the same level to practice strategies that will allow them to progress as readers.  The teacher also brings together small groups of students at different levels to work on common strateiges.  
Effective workshops end with a closing or sharing session where students and teachers can share with partners, talk about what they are reading, or revisit the mini lesson strategy.  .  
Some great links:

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