Reading Workshop

Students in 5th grade will participate in the Readers’ Workshop Model literature units designed around the district’s Essential Questions for Language Arts K-12 and the Connecticut State Standards. 

    Components of Reading Workshop

    The Mini-Lesson

    Each Reading Workshop session begins with a mini-lesson that lasts approximately 1015 minutes. During each mini-lesson, the students will be introduced to a specific concept, also known as the teaching point. Most often, the teaching point focuses on a reading strategy or skill.  During this mini-lesson, I will explicitly model or demonstrate the skill for the students. Students then get a chance to practice the skill or strategy on their own or with a partner. This part of the mini-lesson is called the active engagement.

    Individualized Daily Reading (IDR)

    During this time students are engaged in self-selected texts at their independent level.  They use this time to practice the skills that are taught during the mini-lessons.  Students read in "Reserved Seating" spots around the room while the teacher holds individual reading conferences or meets with small groups of students for strategy/skill lessons, or book clubs. 
    There are many comfy places to read in our classroom including a bistro table, disc chairs, baseball stools, and pillows.  While it is great to have so many comfortable options for independent reading, it can also lead to arguments over who gets to read in the extra special pieces of furniture.  For this reason, we have a "Reserved Seating" rotation schedule in our classroom.  A labeled list is printed on a vertical banner.  On the left side of the banner next to the reserved seating spots are clips with each student's name.  The clips are rotated every day after reading workshop so that all students get to enjoy each reserved seating spots an equal number of times throughout the school year.  Knowing where they will read each day allows students to transition very quickly from the mini-lesson to IDR time.
    It is extremely important for the students to be reading a book on their "JUST RIGHT" reading 
    level.  I will remind them of this level at the beginning of the year and it will change with the student as they grow throughout the year.  If they are not reading on their "JUST RIGHT" level, they will struggle to grow as readers.  If they are reading books that are too hard for their fluency and/or comprehension, or books that are too easy for their level, they will not improve as readers.  
    If you and your child need help finding the level of a book, you can use scholastic book wizard to help you!  Just click the link below, insert the book, and look for the F&P letter.  :)

    Scholastic Book Wizard 


    This is a 510 minute time period in which students gather back on my reading carpet to reflect on their work as readers.  I make sure to reinforce my teaching point for the day and emphasize the importance of continuing to use the strategy that I taught whenever they read from now on.  I also give students a chance to share their reading work.  Since I certainly do not have time every day for every reader to share, I vary the way I allow my students to share. We may do a reading partner share, reader of the day, revisit the chart from the mini-lesson, or chat about what they might do at home for their nightly home reading. 

    Other parts of Reading Workshop

    Talking Partners:
    I assign my students talking partners at the beginning of the year.  These students always sit next to each other on the carpet during reading mini-lessons. Whenever I ask students to "turn and talk" during the active engagement part of a mini-lesson, they can quickly position themselves knee-to-knee with this person and have a quick conversation about whatever I ask them to discuss.  I do not like to change talking partners more than four times a year because I want the partners to build a level of comfort and trust with each other so that their discussions can be open and honest.  Assigning talking partners is a great management strategy because it saves a great deal of time during a mini-lesson or read-aloud.  There is no confusion about who to turn and talk with, as students are able to quickly turn to their talking partner without hesitation.

    Mentor Texts:
    There is nothing better than using mentor texts when modeling reading strategies or when teaching students to notice literary devices and story elements.  I plan my read-alouds strategically so that I have previously read aloud any book that I want to refer to during a mini-lesson.  It is important to point out that the read-aloud is separate from the mini-lesson.  We normally do our daily class read aloud at a different point in the day but it is a time that we all look forward to together. 

    Shopping for Books at the Classroom Library:
    In my classroom, students are not allowed to "shop" for books during independent reading time. Instead they must choose books (when necessary) during our morning work period or during our L-Block study skills block. I tell my students that their book box should have enough books inside to last them at least two weeks.  This means they are not visiting the classroom library on a daily basis. If a student finishes his/her books during independent reading time, he must reread his books on that day or begin a new book from their book bin. We refer to these books waiting to be read as "On-Deck" books.  My 5th graders are expected to be prepared for workshop every day. That means they are encouraged to shop for new books when they know that they have fewer than two days' worth of reading material left. Making this "no shopping during independent reading time" rule helps improve the reading environment in my classroom so that readers are not distracted.

    Talking Back to Books on Sticky Notes:
    While there are times when I provide students with a specific handout on which to record their thinking, there are many other times when I just want them to write about their reading on sticky notes as they make their way through their books.  I tell my students to "talk back" to their books as they read.  Whenever they talk back to their book, they leave a sticky note on that page.  I often ask students to refer to these sticky notes when I confer with them individually about their reading. Although I confer with students often, I can't be there with them during every book they read.  For this reason, I ask them to take the sticky notes out of their books when they are done and attach them to a "Tracker Sheet" that is then added to their Reader's Notebook.  This way I can see the thinking that is taking place on a regular basis and use it as a tool to guide my individual conversations and necessary instruction with specific students.  
    You will hopefully see your child "talking back" to their books with these sticky notes inside of their books.  If they are reading at home and you don't see them with a stack of sticky notes next to them, writing here and there as they are reading, please encourage them to continue this work with their home reading as well.  This is an important skill that will take their reading to the next level! In addition, if students are good about making these notes as they are reading, they will be released from having to keep up with a daily reading log since I can tell what they are reading from their sticky notes.  Those students who are still struggling with posting as they read will be required to still have a daily reading log so that I am able to see what they are reading each day. 

      The Reader's Notebook:
      Check back soon for see this section in action. I will reveal the different sections I include in my students' notebooks, explain how I use them as an assessment tool, and provide sample pictures of what a Reader's Notebook looks like.  This is a reading tool that we use EVERY day.  This notebook stays in the classroom and is a working tool during IDR (Independent Daily Reading) and conferring with me. 

        Guided Reading & Strategy Lessons:
        While students are reading self-selected texts from their book boxes during IDR time, I am busy, too.  If I am not conferring with students individually, I am usually meeting with them in strategy groups to work on needed skills.  

          Independent Reading Self-Checklist:
          In order to keep my students held accountable on a daily basis in Reading Workshop, I have them keep track of their reading time with a "Reading Self-Checklist."  As much as I would love to meet with every student, every day and talk about what they are reading, it is an impossible task.  The students are asked to complete this checklist during the last two minutes of workshop everyday before returning to the carpet for the closing.  This is a list of the four to five most important things they should be doing during IDR time.  At the end of each week, students hand in their self-checklists so that I can look them over.  In some instances I use the information to address concerns with specific students during upcoming reading conferences.  I then send the completed checklists home for parents to see as well.

            (We use these throughout the Reading Units for students to assess how they are progressing within the 5th grade standards)

            Narrative Learning Progressions

            Informational Learning Progressions