This year, I’ve moved to a modified workshop approach to teaching both reading and writing. And I am loving it. So far, I’ve taught 2 whole class novels (Of Mice and Men and Lord of the Flies) and I plan on teaching at least 1 Shakespearean play and To Kill a Mockingbird. What do we do with the rest of our time? Write, write, write.
Here’s a basic breakdown of my year:
Quarter 1: Short stories, reader/writer workshop (Independent Novels 3-5), 3-5 large writing assignments (Narrative focus)
Quarter 2: Whole Class Novels (see above), Independent Novels Continued (2-3), Writing Workshop 2- 3 large writing assignments (Expository focus)
My plan for the remainder of the year:
Quarter 3: Poetry Unit / Drama Unit, Independent Novels Continued (2-3), Non-fiction push (Article of the Week), 1 research based writing assignment. (Research focus)
Quarter 4: Whole Class Novel 2, Independent Novels Continued, Writing Workshop 2- 3 large writing assignments (Argument/ Analysis focus)
Success? Kids are reading more. They enjoy reading more. Those that would “fake read” (use Sparknotes) are no longer doing so. Teaching novels like Lord of the Flies is a lot easier because kids have improved their reading fluency and stamina before attacking this novel.
Management: It’s hard. I won’t lie. But you figure out how to make the kids do most of the work. They keep lists in their Writer’s Notebooks. Lists of books they have read, lists of books they want to read. I do book talks. I set aside 10 minutes at the beginning of each and every class for SSR and use that time to conduct Reading Conferences/Check-in’s with the kids.
Must Have Resources: Penny Kittle’s Book Love and Kelly Gallagher’s Readicide. Most of our ideas came from these books and the authors do a much better job explaining the approach. Also, check out Penny’s website. You’ll find a lot of amazing handouts/videos/book lists.