I got a lot of questions about Reading Workshop after my post about it. I've tried my best to answer the questions below, but my thoughts are kind of all over the place this morning! I've only been doing Reading Workshop for 2 years now, and I am definitely still learning--and still tweaking! I'm going to do a whole series of posts over the next year, and I'll answer these questions a lot more in depth then. But for now, here goes:
Susan asked: Can you tell me how you set up your classroom to be able to supply so many books?
My library is a mish-mash of books collected over the last few years and includes books I've bought, had donated, gotten free from book-orders, books I've made, and trade books from our reading series. My next Reading Workshop post will be about setting up the classroom library and I'll give lots of details, then. So check back soon!
The students were really able to pick a book that was on their level, and read the whole time?
Yes...But not on day one!
Or week one. It takes a lot of time, specific mini-lessons to teach the expectations and lots and lots of practice/feedback. Remember, reading can be reading the pictures, reading the words or re-telling a familiar story. So at the beginning of the year, you might see most of the kids looking at the pictures, making up a story to go along with them, trying to remember and tell the story in their own words, reading familiar books that they've memorized or reading very simple, predictable texts. Any of the Reading Workshop gurus will tell you that is authentic reading! As the year goes on, and their reading skills improve, the kids will transition into actually reading the words.
Also (and this is a biggie!), although the kids are reading for 30-40 minutes at a time by the end of the year, at the beginning, they might read for 5. It's called building stamina, and the 2 Sisters do an excellent job of telling you how to do that step-by-step in the Daily Five.
Independently choosing "just-right" books is a skill that must be taught and practiced over time. I generally check my kids' book boxes once a week. I have them make piles of their too easy, too hard and just right books. Then I have them read a little from each book to confirm. The kids can then adjust their piles and see for themselves how many are actually "just-right". If they are really struggling, we go over to the library together and I guide them as they choose new books. It takes time, but they get it eventually!
Liz asked--What does the rest of your literacy program look like?
Reading Workshop is the bulk of my literacy program. But remember, it includes a read-aloud, mini-lesson, small groups, individual reading conferences, response time and share time. I do a separate writing workshop (which is a whole post on its own!)
Jonelle asked: Do you teach all day?
Yes! We go to school from 7:45-2:45. 30 minutes for lunch, 20 for recess, 50 for special areas. The rest is all mine.
How long is your reading workshop block?
My Reading Workshop block is about an hour and 15 minutes long (depending on the day!)
What does your reading workshop look like if you are not doing Daily 5? What books do you use?
It's very similar to the Daily 5, but technically I only do 4 (because writing workshop is its own separate time and is very heavily based on Lucy Caulkins). The different components of my Reading Workshop aren't as defined or formal as they are in the Daily 5 (for example, listening to reading is just another choice my kids have during "Read to Buddy" time). I've kind of taken lessons from Growing Readers, Revisiting the Reading Workshop, the Daily 5 and even blogs and combined them into my own version. And it's definitely still evolving!
Little People Learn asked: I wonder how you manage, plan, differentiate and control kids during the reading sessions.
This changes throughout the year. In the beginning, while kids are still building their stamina and learning expectations, the workshop has a lot more structure (as in I tell the kids what to do!) But by the end of the year, the kids have a lot more freedom. They choose what they read, where they read, how they respond, etc. Management is no harder (and actually probably easier) than trying to manage kids (and rotate them) in literacy centers or stations.
Differentiation is the easy part, because the kids are all reading books and responding to them at their own level. Nobody is being forced to do a center activity that is way too easy (or hard) for them.
Do you group them?
I do not group the kids while they are reading. I still pull groups, similar to guided reading groups. However, the groups are flexible and based on specific needs. For example, I might pull a group to work on using letter clues to decode new words, and those kids will most likely be on the same reading level. But the next day, I might pull a group to work on making inferences, and those kids might be on a wide range of reading levels. I pull groups a lot more in the first half of the year than I do the last half (when I mostly do individual conferences).
How about the kids who are not familiar with phonics?
I still teach phonemic awareness and phonics. I just do not devote a huge chunk of time to it. I do a lot of mini-lessons and quick activities during our morning meeting as well as when when I pull small groups. And there is a word-work component to Reading Workshop. My kids do a combination of sight word work and phonics (this year, I'm trying Words Their Way...I'll let you know how it goes). But when it comes down to it, kids learn to read by reading, and though phonics can be helpful, it should NOT be the biggest part of your reading instruction.
Elissa asked: I am curious on the books the kids read--is it literature or leveled readers? I have a district mandated reading series.
Both! I have a large variety of reading materials for my kids to choose from. They are categorized by author, genre, theme, and yes, even by level. I also have a reading series, but luckily, we are not required to do the lessons from the TE's (as a matter of fact, my district encourages a reading workshop format and offers trainings and even mentoring for it!) But even though I don't use the TE's or workbooks, I put the books (the leveled readers, the trade books and even the anthologies) in my library!
I am assuming the mini lessons are things like phonics, etc???
Not necessarily. Most of the mini-lessons are either on workshop procedures (choosing a just-right book, what a good-reader does...) or on comprehension!
Leah asked: I do Readers Workshop in my classroom and have for the past two years. My big problem is getting the kids to actually be engaged during their independent reading time. Most of my students would tell you that they don't like Readers Workshop. HELP!!!! How can I help my kids love this awesome part of their day?
I would say don't give up and try it again this year! Make sure you start off with just a small amount of independent reading time and then increase it gradually. Make sure the kids have a wide variety of books and other reading materials to choose from and feel success with. Make sure you put a big emphasis on share time--kids LOVE to talk about what they read.