Saturday, August 1, 2009

Introducing Reader's Workshop: Part One - the Set Up

So, with the beginning of our new school term, just three weeks ago, I introduced a Reader's workshop into the classroom. This is a new thing to me, and a new thing in our school. Luckily, I had time to think about how it would work, and was able to set things up accordingly.

My ideas originally came from the website of third grade teacher, Beth Newingham. Although I had read about the ideas before, I had been lost at how to make it work. Beth demonstrated how it worked in her room, allowing me to see how it might work in my room.

The first step was organising the books. When I started in my own classroom, 2 and a half years ago, I had half a trolley of books. Now I have several bookshelves full. To organise them I purchased a tonne of cheap plastic, rectangular containers (sturdy enough to hold books of course) from local discount stores. I sat down and surveyed the books I had, dividing them into some basic groups. Each book was then labelled with a sticker reminding students what group it was from, and each container was labelled with a laminated tag.

The groups ranged from the basic (realistic fiction, fantasy, historical) to the more 'Mrs D' specific (CHERUB books, ballet books), but most importantly, in their containers the books now faced outwards, allowing students to see what we actually had. This meant new reading material to a lot of the students, and a lot more of the books were actually being read.

The next step took place over the two week break and involved the muscles of Mr D. I've never liked the set up of my crowded room, and I was determined to do something about it. My biggest move was shifting my desk to a spot where I use it more and it takes up less space. I now have a cleaner desk and more space in the room. We then moved the dividers (head height) most of the way across the room (I share a demountable teaching space complete with asbestos walls) to block out some of the noise and lined up the bookshelves so there was more of a book corner, with a large seating space in front of it. I then swapped a couple of tables which were being used for computers with desks, which also opened up more room. Suddenly I had more space - and I was happier with it.

Outside of school I did up a simple notebook for each child (stickytaped a picture on front and some info on the inside) and stuck it in a large plastic lunch bag (a baggie?) with a pencil and some post it notes. These went into some cardboard magazine holders (one between two students) which I had painted brightly. Each holder had a laminated tag with students names on them and became a place for their books and reading workshop materials.

Now we were ready for school to begin.

Next post - introducing the reader's workshop to the students.

Image from Public Domain Photos

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