Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reader's Worshop Lab

Last year, my district started using the Reader's Workshop model- officially.  My teaching partners and I had been using it for 2 years prior and LOVED it!  We have also been using the workshop model for writing.  If you are not familiar with workshop, it has a basic structure for every session and it caters to your students' needs by giving them the opportunity to read for an extended period of time and confer one-on-one with the teacher throughout.  This is what mine looks like:
Connection (to prior learning and a hook lead-in)
Mini-Lesson (10 minutes)
  • New skill lesson
  • Active engagement to practice skill
  • Link to current work as a reader
Individual Reading time (20-30 minutes depending on stamina)
  • Teacher confers with students individually or in small strategy groups (not guided reading)
Mid-workshop Teaching or Refocus (2 minutes)
Partnerships- ability matched (5-10 minutes)
  • Read together
  • Discuss books
  • Retell or use current teaching point
Share (3 minutes)
  • Teacher reiterates the lesson by using a student example of what "smart readers do", based on the mini-lesson

Although I've been teaching this way for a while, I'm new to first grade.  When our Literacy Coach offered me the opportunity to study another first grade teacher's RW three times this year, I jumped at the chance.  How cool, right?  Kate (Literacy Coach) was worried that I may not get as much out of the lab as the other teachers who have not been teaching or are new to workshop.  I am so glad she was wrong :)

The first thing I lovingly stole for my kiddos was the idea of a toolbox that readers use to keep their reading strategies in while they read.  She had the students make a paper with a toolbox drawing, then they added the clip art reminders of the strategies to figure out unknown words (as they were introduced in workshop).  Then, the papers were laminated to keep in the students' book bag.  Genius!  I was so inspired!  I recreated the toolbox and the tools for my own class to use.  It has been such a help.  Even though the strategies were on an anchor chart we created earlier, they had stopped looking at it!  Now, my students pull out their Strategy Toolboxes every day while they read.

Another awesome idea that I added to my workshop is the idea of a warm-up and cool down time.  She used the students' poetry notebooks for the warm-up (about 3 minutes) because they are all comfortable with the text and it has been practiced as a whole group.  At her signal, they switched to their "just right books" and a "challenge book" (instructional level) for the bulk of the reading time.  Near the end, she signaled for the cool-down (3 minutes), in which they were able to read a look-book or anything else in the bag.  This was so inspiring!  I put it in to use within the week.  It has made a huge difference in their stamina and they are up to 20-25 minutes solid reading.  (Don't get me wrong- I still have a handful that I keep a close eye on because they lose focus easily!)

I was so blessed by this teacher and her willingness to share her room with us for the hour!  We also had an opportunity to debrief with her and ask questions about her room and methods.  It was an action packed day of learning!  I can't wait until January for the next one :)

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