Sunday, August 2, 2009

Reader's Workshop: Part 2 - Introducing the ideas

It's all about reading - more

All the students in my class a capable readers and most of them enjoy reading. Therefore, when I introduced Reader's Workshop by mentioning they would be reading MORE, they were generally happy with the idea. Those that aren't enthusiastic readers did like the fact they could choose their own books, as well as the new graphic novels I had puchased (more on that later).

Each lesson involves silent reading. The students can read anything, anywhere. This means I generally have students lying on cushions on the floor, curled up in corners, sprawled across desks, grabbing my comfy chair, as well as taking advantage of the blue skies and sunshine of winter in Queensland. (Generally when all the kids are outside is when the Principal or Deputy will come along. The deputy was great, though and saw it as an opportunity to talk about the book (Inkheart) he was reading. )

Read and Respond

After silent reading most of the students go on to read and respond. Students keep reading, but may pause to write what they are reading, a line they really like, or some information about a character. There are question prompts in the front of their notebooks, as well as a weekly question and some additional questions (downloaded from Adrian Bruce's website) for students who are having a little trouble. Students aren't expected to write lots, though some do, but are expected to write a little each day.

Additionally, students are sometimes asked to write a letter to me. I then read them and respond with my own letter, asking questions, making recommendations and generally having an ongoing conversation about reading and books.

Explicit teaching and conferences

On some days, before silent reading we'll have a mini-lesson focusing on a particular skill or aspect. These are short and pretty much serve as reminders, or options for the students to use.

While most of the class is read-and-responding, I'll work with a small group on a particular book or skill. At the moment we're 'reading' the amazing Shaun Tan book, The Arrival, which contains no recognisable words at all. Student make notes on post-its as we go through it, and then write up their thoughts about the chapter afterwards. Lots of skills are discussed here, and it's more focused on the group needs.

While the small group are writing I move around the class doing individual conferences. I listen to the students read, talk to them about what they're reading and look at their work. I also collect five books a day to read and write in - which is managable and lets me get through the whole class in an average week. This way I know where the students are at and I'm able to guide them to do more.

It's only been three weeks, and I haven't dumped this all at once, but introduced bits at a time. Already, there are improvements in their work, but I've also made some adjustments.

Next post: how it's all worked

Image from Public Domain Photos

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