Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Reader's Workshop: Further Reflection

So, we've had seven weeks of reader's workshop. During this time I have:
  • Set up a regular routine for silent reading
  • Bought a number of new books and graphic novels for the class
  • Established a routine of collecting and writing in the student books
  • Read more and more about reader's workshop and how it works in different classrooms around the world. (Check out this post at The Reading Zone)
Yesterday I asked the students to reflect on Reader's Workshop and how it was working for them. I gave them an index card and asked them to tell me what they liked and disliked, what they thought was vital and how reader's workshop could be improved. I requested they put no names on their card, that they didn't tell me what they were writing, and I asked another student to collect them so there would be total anonymity and they could be really honest.

The results were very interesting. Almost all of the students said that they liked the reading and having time to read. A few mentioned that they enjoyed having the choice of what to read and where they got to read (we've got a nice outside area they can read it). Surprising to me was how many of them enjoyed the small group lessons we have been doing during this time.

What didn't they like? Well they didn't like responding everyday. And honestly, when I tried to do it, neither did I. They felt that it took time out from their reading, and thus their enjoyment. They also disliked that I had set four books for them to try to read by the end of the term - again I understand that this takes away from their choice.

What was vital? Books, funnily enough. Also bookmarks :) Students also said book talks (and we've had a couple of really exciting book talks so far) and group discussion.

How to improve? More time for reading, less time for writing. Being able to take books home. Being able to write about books when they finish them. And one bright spark asked for more cushions :)

So, we're going to work on this. My aim is to introduce proper mini lessons at the beginning of the lesson. We'll also do more reading, and the students will respond in letter form every two weeks. The students will be able to take books home and we'll have a simple sign out/sign in system (this is particularly vital for one or two students who don't have access to books at home). We'll continue to do group work, but probably less often.

I'll keep you updated on how it goes

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