Reading Workshop: Managing the Workshop
Tips on Independent Work
important aspect of managing workshop is offering students consistent
routines that balance teacher-led, students-led, and choice-reading
experiences. During the opening weeks of school, I focus on these
the kinds of reading support students need, then organize small
- Teach the
class how to work in groups, pairs, and alone without the support
of a teacher.
Students to Work Independently
It can take
from four to six weeks for students to learn how to work on specific
tasks without your guidance. Teach them how to:
their response journals and have them practice three or four responses
with your guidance before asking them to work alone.
- create their
own discussion questions;
- set up behavior
guidelines for book discussions;
- engage in
paired reading and retelling; and
the ground rules for independent reading.
time to teach your students how to work alone allows you to support
everyone in small-group and one-on-one meetings. From time to time,
during the closing of a workshop, you'll need to address behavior
glitches that arise.
Early in the year, take the time to establish guidelines for productive,
independent group work. I always include students in this process,
for they are more apt to follow guidelines and goals they helped
students to suggest behavior guidelines that will help groups discuss
books, complete projects, or confer. I require that students state
guidelines in positive sentences so they understand what they can
and should do.
students' suggestions on the chalkboard. Add one or two of your
own. Then ask students to select five key guidelines and post these
on a chart.
While you're working with a group of students, others will have
questions that need answering. Post the following four guidelines
and periodically review them with students.
- Pause and
think for a minute. Try to discover ways to solve the problem
on your own. Reread the class chart that lists strategies that
have been modeled and practiced.
- Ask members
of your group for help.
- If group
members can't help, ask another student, one who is not working
with the teacher.
- If none of
the above work, turn to another task until the teacher is free
Meaningful Reading Experiences During Choice Time
can work successfully in small groups, paris, or alone when they're
truly engaged. Your students will be engaged by these activities,
providing you first teach them how to approach each one:
Reading: students read a free-choice contract book for 15
to 30 minutes at school. I ask students to read an additional
30 minutes each night for homework.
Reading: partners read and retell sections of a text to one
Questioning: partners read passages and questions to one another.
to a Book: students listen to a book on an audiocasette in
a listening center.
a Journal Entry
a Book Review
Theater Scripts: groups create and practice reading aloud
scripts based on books they've read.
a Strategy: students,
solo or in small groups, use books at their independent reading
level to cement their understanding of a strategy.
- Work on
Research: students read about their topic using various sources.
- Peer Conferences:
pairs or small groups discuss how they apply a reading strategy
or share journal entries.
Dramatizations: small groups select a section or chapter of
a book to dramatize, using voice and gestures to reveal character.
Book Discussions: Organize heterogeneous groupings, mixing
ability levels and gender. Sometimes you'll organize students
around interests, choices, achievement, knowledge of a subject,
or by chance.
a Portfolio Entry: Portfolios
in my class are a collection of eight to ten pieces on students'
friends, interests, and selections from writing folders and journals
that students choose and self-evaluate. Self-evaluations include:
my favorite piece, most enjoyable topic, the piece that illustrates
progress in content, in mechanics, in prargraphing, etc.
Visit our reading
discussion board to talk about these topics.