During Readers' Workshop, reading instruction takes place with the whole class, small groups, partners, and individual students. Development of reading strategies is the focus of this time. Guided reading in small groups or with individual students utilizes leveled books. During the independent reading portion of the workshop, students read Just Right Books - books they select that can be read without help. Our classroom has a wide variety of books and poems for shared reading, posters, magazines, computer activities, and a teacher who loves reading to children and teaching them about reading!
Structure of our Readers' Workshop
The teacher instructs the whole class on a skill, strategy, or habit that students need to learn and use during independent reading.
A mini-lesson connects to a previous lesson, ongoing unit of study, student work or student experience.
The teaching point is stated clearly and demonstrated or modeled. Students are actively engaged in trying out the skill or strategy, watching a demonstration, or planning work out loud.
- Students independently read Just-Right Books they have previously chosen from the classroom library.
- A portion of the time also may be for partners to read together and/or discuss their reading.
- The teacher has brief instructional conferences with a few individual students and guided reading with small group(s).
This important time is used as a mini-lesson reinforcement, add-on, or to preview a coming lesson. A few students may share a strategy they used in their reading. Some teachers have volunteers sign up for sharing, others select students to share that day.
Shared reading allows students to participate in reading material that may be beyond their reading levels. The teacher models a reading strategy to the whole class using enlarged text (ex. big books, basal anthology story, morning message on chart paper, Smartboard message). Students all have access to and can interact with the text.
The teacher reads a selection to the class from a book, magazine, poem or other print material for a specific purpose. It's an opportunity for teachers to model reading fluency and reading/writing strategies. This can be done at any part of the school day:
- To begin/end your day - intended for enjoyment
- During a reading mini lesson - to model thinking aloud
- During a writing mini lesson - to study an author's craft
- During other content area subjects to support the content area, teach unique features of expository texts, teach children how to apply comprehension strategies when reading in the content areas.
- During a genre study - read many examples of the genre being studied
- To introduce an author study - read variety of books by same author
- To encourage rich conversations about books - whole group share, Turn and Tell or Think/Pair/Share
Guided reading is designed to help students learn how to problem solve increasingly challenging texts with understanding and fluency.
- The teacher works with small groups of students reading at similar levels, selects and introduces texts to readers, supports individual students as they read instructional level texts and engages the readers in a discussion after reading.
- Students are grouped and regrouped according to ongoing observation and assessment by the teacher.
- The amount of support given by the teacher varies with the reading skill of students in a group.
- Each child is responsible for problem solving the entire text (or portion of it if reading a longer book) with support from the teacher as needed.
While the children are reading independently, the teacher provides direct instruction to a group of students (guided reading) or to individual students (conferences). These conferences have a certain structure to be effective. The teacher:
- Sits by the child, reviews notes of previous conference, and observes the child as he/she reads.
- Begins conference with a comment about an observed strength the child shows - a compliment.
- Teaches a skill or strategy that's needed to help improve the child's reading. Just as in a mini-lesson, it's best to decide on one teaching point for a reading conference.
- Demonstrates and then has child try to do it.
- Compliments the effort and restates the teaching point as a goal for student to work on.
- Jots notes for each conference including strength mentioned and new goal.
(adapted from Growing Readers by Kathy Collins)