Reading Workshop

This strategy gives students the opportunity to choose the books they read and to discuss their reading individually and in small groups.
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How Can You Make It Happen?

  1. Planning

    To begin reading workshop, set aside an uninterrupted block of time. The amount of time will vary by grade level, but 45 minutes is a good minimum amount of time for third grade and above. Reading instruction during the reading workshop should be linked to your state standards, and students can be assessed on their progress in meeting these standards.

  2. Materials

    Books, books, books! A well-stocked classroom library is a must for a successful reading workshop. Many teachers choose to level their books so that students can make educated choices. This is, students can choose books that will be "just right," that will be a challenge, or that will be easy to read independently.

    Collect written responses to literature in reading journals or book logs. There are many ways to house these entries. Each student can have a spiral notebook, an index card file, or a folder. Another method is to allow students to jot their thoughts on sticky notes and place the notes on the corresponding pages of the books, later using those notes to help them remember their questions or thoughts. Whichever method you choose, it is important that students have a way to keep track of their ideas about their reading as well as a place to respond to their teacher's questions about it.

  3. Sample Student Activities

    A reading workshop can start with a mini-lesson on a specific reading skill, such as predicting. The mini-lesson lasts 15 minutes, and then students are asked to select their books. Students are given a question related to the mini-lesson to respond to in their reading journals once they have completed their reading.

    Students read alone for 30 minutes. During this time the teacher will meet with five or six students for reading conferences. During these conferences the teacher will ask questions about the books being read. Although the teacher might ask a few factual questions, the majority of the questions will allow students to think more deeply about their reading material. For instance, asking how many chapters the book has might help a student become familiar with the parts of a book, while asking students about character development or possible future events in the story will deepen student understanding of the material.

  4. Extending the Activity

    A reading workshop often concludes with a sharing time. The class can divideinto small groups to tell about what they have read, or a few students can share with the whole class.

How Can You Measure Success?

Success in reading can be measured in many ways.

One method of assessment is the use of independent reading inventories that assess both word recognition and reading comprehension. These inventories are given periodically throughout the year and results are compared over time. Teachers can also follow student progress through the journals and other records students keep throughout the school year.

It is also valuable to monitor student attitudes about reading to see how the autonomy provided by the workshop setting affects students. Qualitative tools such as surveys and occasional conversations with students can help uncover this information.

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