Reading Workshop

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What Is It?

Students learn to read by reading! This strategy gives students the opportunity to choose the books they read and to discuss their reading individually and in small groups. Reading workshop complements other literacy improvement strategies such as small-group reading instruction and writing workshop.

Why Is It Important?

Having students read books that they choose and that are appropriate for their reading levelis an important part of a reading program. The following excerpt from an Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) article, "Making the Difference with Reading Instruction: Reader's Workshop" by Richard Wulf-McGrath, echoes the enthusiasm many teachers share for reading workshop:

During my 14 years of teaching I have tried many approaches to reading instruction; many fell far short of meeting the needs of all my students … Then, one year, a teacher across the hall introduced me to reader's workshop …

… Successful readers need to be reading books at their own instructional level for optimal learning to take place. I have discovered that reader's workshop is the ideal solution to differentiating reading instructionbecause each student reads books at his or her own reading level.

When Should It Be Taught?

Many teachers prefer to hold reading workshop in the morning, but time of day is not as important as having uninterrupted time. Ideally, reading workshop is held daily within a literacy block along with writing workshop and any other reading instruction.

What Does It Look Like?

Although reading workshop may look different in different classrooms, some elements are common. Students have access to a variety of authentic literature, and this literature is often leveled in some way so that students can select books in a deliberate manner. Students generally have an uninterrupted block of time to read, reflect upon, and respond to what they read. The teacher usually spends this time holding reading conferences with small groups or individuals. During reading workshop, students read at their desks (or on the floor, in a comfy chair, or in another special spot), select books from the classroom library, write in book logs or other reading journals, and talk with the teacher or other students about books.

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