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photo of teacherLiving the Life of a Reader and Writer

, Barrett Elementary
Morgan Hill, CA

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Setting Norms: Rituals and Routines to support the Workshop Approach Readers and Writers Workshop Touchstone Texts: Revisiting Favorite Books for New Lessons

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Readers and Writers Workshop

This page will give you an indepth look at a morning in my classroom, including our Readers Workshop, Writers Workshop, Authors' Chair, and Word Study.

Readers Workshop

Opening Routine and Read Out Loud

That day, I was reading Strega Nona.  This was taped at the end of the year, so I was doing “The best of readers workshop” for the last two weeks of the school year-- we were hitting all of the things that I had already taught throughout the year.  Here, we were talking about text-to-text connections, which is a comprehension tool.  I modeled for them with my read-out-loud how to do a text-to-text connection, and then I told them, when you go back and do your independent reading today, if you have a text-to-text connection, I want you to take a sticky note, note the page, and continue reading.

Opening Routine
Opening routine, attendance, announcements.
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Readaloud
Myers reads "Strega Nona" (Tomie de Paola) and alerts students to be looking for text-to-text connections.
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Text-to-Text Connections
Myers introduces the worksheet students will use to note the text-to-text connections they find during independent reading time.
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Guided Reading Group
Guided reading group re-reads a book, Myers does a running record for a student, and then the whole group reads a new book.
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During Readers Workshop time, the students are doing independent reading, and I’m having one-on-one conferences; that’s when I’m teaching them strategies.  I’ll always tell them something positive that we did… like “Today I’m noticing that you’re really doing a good job sounding out words that you’re struggling with, but maybe what I would like you to do is, do you think you can look at the pictures for clues if you get stuck.” These strategies have already been modeled for them in my minilessons in readers workshop, that would be an example of a mini-lesson that I would do in the rituals and routines (and you can see our walls for the different readers workshop lessons we've done throughout the year). I also reinforce these lessons in guided reading groups.  The beauty is that with readers workshop, they’re all reading books that are geared to their reading level. During this time, I also run my Guided Reading Groups.

 

Picking a "Just Right Book"

During independent reading time, the students select the books, however, I stay in the library with them, and if I notice there’s a student who’s really reading at a level 12, and they want to get a book that’s a level 22, I will kind of guide them in the right direction.  But they always make the book choices. Posters like “What is a Just-Right Book?” stay up all year. That is another mini-lesson that I do in the rituals and routines.  We talk about how posters are not meant for decoration. They’re meant to be used.  And often when I’m doing my mini-lessons, I’ll take down the poster off the wall (view the Reader's Workshop wall), and I’ll tell them, “Remember this poster? Guess what, we need to review it. So we’re going to go back.” That day we were doing connections.  So I said, “Remember when we were doing connections back at the beginning of the year?” 

One on One Conferences

While I'm conferencing with students, sometimes I’ll write on a sticky note, “TP: (Teaching Point) today I want you to work on....” and they try it. (here’s my conference notes, here.)  Each student has a block. I’ll tell them, “You know, I’ve been noticing that the last couple of times I’ve conferenced with you, I’ve had to remind you to sound out your words.  Are you practicing that?”  It holds me accountable and them accountable. They really thrive with that.  They really do. One thing about the conferences is that they're very private and indidivualized.  So if a student is struggling, they’re not ostracized by the rest of the kids.  And everybody is, even though they’re working on the same strategy, or taking the mini-lesson and applying it  in their independent work time, that makes them feel good, but it’s at their level. That’s really key here.  So there’s none of this , “Well, you guys are working on this, and you guys are working on that.”  Everybody’s there together. And it really helps with the community in my classroom. If I notice that five kids are really struggling I pull them back to the guided reading table and we will all work on it together.  I really do a lot of group conferences in math– especially math.  I do like that, but I like the individual one-on-one.

Reader's Conference
Myers has a reader's conference during independent reading time.
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Reader's Conference
Myers has a reader's conference during independent reading time.
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Reader's Conference
Myers has a reader's conference during independent reading time.
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Reader's Conference
Myers has a reader's conference during independent reading time.
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Refocusing on the Task

Then, I stopped them at a certain amount of time and I have them write for me what their text-to-text connection was.  They’re responsible for what they’re reading.  They all work on  it together, so I give them some kind of signal—I ring the bell or I clap—and I’ll have them, say, “Now you need to go and write down your connection.” And if they have more than one connection, that’s great.

Sharing back

At the end we always have 10 minutes to reflect, 10 minute share. This student, for example, was making a text-to-text connection between The Napping House and the book Stand Tall. I collect and read these responses every day. In reading their responses, sometimes I'll notice that a text-to-text connection isn’t actually a text-to-text connection. My students' work drives my teaching. So if I’m noticing that ¾ of my class have completely missed the boat, we will go back and do more mini-lessons on it.  On other days, I’ll say, “Does someone want to share with me how you did today in your independent reading?” They love it, they love to share. And they can’t say things like “It was fun.” They have to be very specific, like, “Today, you told me to go back and re-read when I struggle with a word.” And I’ll ask them, “How did that go for you?” And they’ll say, “Well, it went okay, although I’m not really sure that this is a just-right book.”

Getting Started on Text-to-Text Connections
Distributing the worksheet for students to note text-to-text connections.
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Sharing Text-to-Text Connections
Students share back the text-to-text connections they found during independent reading time.
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Writers Workshop

Writers' Workshop Introduction (Mini-Lesson)
Myers describes turning previously noted items into a "notebook entry"
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While the kids are doing their independent writing, I want to be with the kids, one on one. The conversations that I have with them—they love it, and often I have the same prompt over time, I sit next to them and I say, “Tell me what you’re working on today as a writer?”  and they are very specific.  But that comes also with the language that I use with them.  I always, I have high expectations for them, for the kids. So if they say, “I’m writing.”  That’s not acceptable. I say, “You need to tell me what are you working on right now, specifically.”

Writer's Conference
Myers has a writer's conference during writer's workshop.
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Writer's Conference
Myers has a writer's conference during writer's workshop.
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Writer's Conference
writer's conference
Myers has a writer's conference during writer's workshop.
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Writer's Conference
writer's conference
Myers has a writer's conference during writer's workshop, and asks this student to share her story in author's chair.
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They might say , “I’m writing a story about the time I went to Great America.”  And I’ll bring them back, say, “Do you remember today in the mini-lesson how I wanted you to try a story lead?” and they’ll say “Yes” and I’ll say, “Let’s think of a story lead, do you have one?” And they’ll say, “Oh!” I always give them one thing they did well, and then their teaching point.  Before I leave them, I always say, “Before I leave you today, tell me what you’re going to work on as a writer.” They reinforce it, they say it again,  and I might even follow up, and say to them, “Is this your story lead?” And I might ask them to share in the author’s chair.

Author's Chair
Two students read their stories in Author's Chair.
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Now, in writers workshop, when I’m in a genre study and I have posters that go to that genre study, the moment that genre study is over with, those posters come down, and I hang them on a coat rack. So they can use them again if they need do, but I don’t want to confuse them, so when I’m starting a new genre study, those new posters then go up on the wall.  However, they still have access to them, like this one, that is the procedural unit that we were working on.  You can tell that that’s a procedural poster, because it’s teaching someone how to do something. I would not leave that poster up if I moved on to a narrative genre study.  It would not benefit the kids.

 

Word Study and High Stakes Testing

Our staff struggles with how to address the issue of high-stakes testing without teaching to the test.  That’s when we came up with the word study format with the white boards, we decided to do, “Okay, on the test there might be question addressing this particular thing, so we’d spend five minutes." Then at the end of the day, we might review it again, 5 minutes, with the white boards. So we aren't teaching to the test, but we are taking a little bit of time out of our day to address the test.  We talked about how the test is going to look. You will have to bubble in your answers. This is how you bubble in an answer.  We did one day where we said, “When you take the test, it’s going to be quiet. There can be no talking, there can be no raising your hands, and I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.” And we did a practice test one day. And my kids, I felt, have been super-prepared for the test.


DAILY SCHEDULE FOR WORKSHOP APPROACH
I really make it a point to keep the schedule the same each day in my room for consistency. I find that the kids do very well with the predictable schedule on a regular basis.

8:00-8:15 Readers' Workshop: Short read aloud with a mini lesson

8:15-8:25 Independent Reading/ Teacher Confers with students one on one ( I do not get to all of my students in one day, but will confer with all sometime during the week).

8:25-9:05 Independent Reading with Independent Work/ Teacher meets with three different guided reading groups. One group goes from 8:25-8:40, Second from 8:40-8:55, Third from 8:55-9:05~9:10

9:10-9:15 Share Out with the whole class

9:15-9:35 Recess

9:35-10:00 Word Study (Focus here is on grammar, high frequency words, punctuation, word groups)

10:00-10:15 Writers Workshop Mini Lesson

10:15-10:50 Independent Writing with one on one teacher conferring

10:50-11:00 Share out whole class

11-11:45 Lunch

 

 

 

 

 

Site last updated August 9, 2006