Readers Workshop Approach

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.

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2 responses to “Readers Workshop Approach”

  1. Joel Malley says :

    I’ve also set aside the first ten minutes of class for SSR. I’ve been trying different things for a number of years but 10 minutes at the start seems about right. Gets them settled and reading, breaks up the period and it is consistent enough to rely on. Of course, sometimes that 10 turns into 15 (and maybe 20). But it really helps the 9th graders build momentum.

    On a side note, it helps me build momentum too. I need time set aside each day to read as well and it is often the first thing that gets dropped as I try to stay awake while reading in bed.

    • teachergirlblog says :

      I agree! Those 10 minutes each day are such a gift (for me and the kids). Especially for my classes coming in after lunch. I have found many (not all) of my students are already immersed into the worlds of their novels when the passing bell rings. I tried reading conferences at the beginning of this year. I spent those 10 minutes each day checking in with a few students – asking them if they liked the book they were reading and to tell me a bit about it. I kept notes on a legal pad to use as future book suggestions. But as the year goes on, I find myself forgetting to conference and now I use that time to get ready for the rest of the day.

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