Reading Workshop is one of the most important components of our school day, and one of my personal favorites. Following a predictable structure, Reading Workshop has five key components that students can expect in every lesson: 1) The set-up, 2) the mini-lesson, 3) independent reading, 4) partner reading, and 5) the share. These components are explained in the paragraphs below.
The Set-up The set-up happens before students even sit down on the rug to begin their learning. I have made a conscious effort to make our classroom a comfortable and personalized space. With that in mind, I welcome students to find "reading nooks" all over the classroom so that they can truly get lost in their books. Once they have located their reading spot for the day, students are expected to ready their reading area by selecting the very first book they will read when they return from the mini-lesson. All of their other books remain in their book boxes so that they are ready to grab a new book once they finish reading their previous choice.
The Mini-Lesson The mini-lesson begins on the carpet with the teacher instructing students on one thing that all great readers do in the genre that the class is studying (e.g. realistic fiction, poetry, non-fiction, etc.). Every mini-lesson is comprised of four parts: 1) The connection, 2) the teach, 3) the active engagement, and 4) the link. In the connection, the teacher seeks to pull the students in using an interesting story or remark that is tied to the teaching point for the day. Many times, students aren't even aware that they are learning because the story is so engaging. Following the connection, the teacher reveals one new thing about what good readers do. This teaching point is carefully refined to one sentence so that students will be able to internalize and own this new piece of learning. After the teacher delivers the teaching point, he then models exactly how this might look in a book that the class has already read. By using a previously-read-text, the teacher is able to focus on the learning aspect since students are already familiar with the text. After students have a chance to see what it looks like in action, the teacher then opens the practice up to the students. During the active engagement piece, students have a chance to critically engage with a different piece of text in the same way that the teacher has just demonstrated. In this way, students are able to practice the teaching point, usually by turning-and-talking with their partner about this new reading strategy. As the students practice this new skill, the teacher circulates around the rug to listen in to student conversations in an effort to share interesting and valuable talking points. After the teacher shares out a key point from a partnership, he then links this learning back to the students' independent practice, making it clear that students are not required to try this strategy today; rather, it is simply a new tool that they can add to their tool belt and use when they feel it is appropriate.
Independent Reading Following this, students then return to their "reading nooks" to begin independent practice. It is during this time that students are using all that they know about what great readers do to become better readers themselves. Simultaneously, the teacher is pulling small guided reading and strategy groups in which students are typically working one level above their independent level. This time allows students to move fluidly through the reading levels with a greater understanding of complex comprehension skills. As the year progresses, students are working to read for longer increments of time in an effort to improve their reading stamina. While students are expected to be on task for the entirety of independent reading, that does not mean that they must have their eyes on their book the entire time. To the contrary, students are encouraged to add to their reader's notebook so that they can show their learning and thoughts. The teacher will monitor this binder weekly so that students remain on track and continue to progress in their reading goals.
Partner Reading During partner reading, students are paired with learners on similar reading levels so that they may practice reading their "just right" books with each other. As students read, their partners are expected to coach the reader and offer constructive feedback. Research shows that reading aloud can dramatically improve fluency and comprehension, so this piece of reading workshop is both important and impactful. Reading partnerships will change throughout the year depending on the individual reader's progression through the levels.
The Share The share serves as the final piece in the architecture of Reading Workshop. No lesson would be complete without revisiting the teaching point, and it is during this time that the teacher can recognize one or two students who have truly showcased that they understand the days teaching point. Often times, this student is named the "Reader of the Day" because they have shown their peers how to utilize this new strategy in their own books.
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