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Reader’s Workshop


It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations- something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own. Katherine Patterson


 


A Reader’s Workshop model provides a framework for independent reading and the teaching of skills and strategies by allowing students time to engage in the same kinds of authentic reading experiences that all readers enjoy. 


Students:


 

  • select books to read
  • explore different genres, authors and texts
  • ask questions
  • make connections (to their own experiences, to other texts, and to bigger issues in the world)
  • respond to what they have read in a variety of ways
  • talk about the books they are reading within a community of readers
  • give and receive recommendations about favourite books


 


During Reader’s Workshop, teachers provide a model for students as they explicitly teach the kind of thinking readers do. Students practice these strategies with the texts they choose to read. Workshops may vary in length and include time for teaching, selecting and reading books, writing about books, and sharing ideas about books with partners or in group discussions.


 


While there is no one way to implement Reader’s Workshop, there are a number of components that remain consistent.

Mini-Lessons


The skills that students need in order to come to their own understandings are taught and modelled. This is the time when we can make the kind of thinking that good readers do visible to our students.


In the mini-lessons teachers can :

  • introduce new genres
  • model ways to interact with text
  • teach or review particular reading strategies
Reading Aloud


Reading aloud to students of all ages is the single most effective strategy for introducing students of all ages to a variety of authors and genres in the classroom and for building the knowledge required for success. (Anderson et al, 1985. p. 23).


Reading aloud to students:

  • fosters enthusiasm for books
  • stimulates their imaginations and emotions
  • allows them to hear the rich language of books beyond their reading ability
  • exposes them to a range of texts
  • provides opportunities for them to discover how different genres are read differently
  • enriches vocabularies 
  • makes difficult text understandable
  • provides a common reading experience for discussion
Independent Reading


Independent reading time gives teachers an opportunity to observe and listen in on group discussions, work with small groups on particular needs or enrichment, conference with individual students, etc.


Independent reading may include time for students :

  • to read self-selected texts
  • to respond to what they are reading 
  • to participate in literature circles or pair up to discuss a common text
  • to practice a skill or strategy taught during the mini-lesson
Sharing


Reader’s Workshop culminates with a whole group debriefing or sharing. During this time students may be asked to process particular strategies they were using. Teachers may point out examples of good thinking heard during small group conversations.


Through this process students :

  • develop an understanding of what good readers do
  • reflect on their reading and monitor their own progress
  • recognize how their own thinking about their reading deepens understanding
  • set objectives for their reading.


 

Additional Resources


The Learning Pad takes you inside an elementary classroom for Reader’s Workshop.


References


Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wilkinson. Becoming a Nation of Readers. (1985)


 


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