Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Workshop Approach to Reading and Writing

A reader and writer since the time I can remember, I hope to share my enthusiasm for reading and writing with my students. I like to take a "workshop" approach to teaching because it encourages responsibility, independence, and I also get time to meet with each reader and writer regularly - both individually and in strategy-based groups. Here's what each workshop period might look like in a typical day:

Reader's Workshop Example -
Part I:
Mini-Lesson Focus: Retelling a Story (Comprehension)
Read Aloud: Garden of Abdul Gasazi by Chris Van Allsburg
Explain and discuss how to retell a story. Students read independently while practicing the strategy that I just taught. I will conference with 5-6 students, discussing their reading and the strategies they are using to better comprehend. We will discuss strengths and a reading goal. After about 20 minutes, we will gather to share examples of how students used the strategy of retelling a story.

Part II:
Mini-Lesson Focus: Attending to Punctuation While Reading Aloud (Fluency)
Read Aloud: When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant
Students will work in stations chosen by them in the morning. Some will be working on the strategy I just taught (reading to someone), some will be practicing word study skills, some will be listening to reading (on a CD player), and some will be in a reading strategy group with me. After about 15 minutes, we will gather to share examples of how students used the strategy of attending to punctuation while reading aloud. Some students may volunteer to practice this strategy while reading aloud.

Writer's Workshop Example -
Mini-Lesson Focus: Discovering Small Moments
Read Aloud: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Explain that authors usually start with a big "watermelon" idea (family vacation weekend in Orlando), and then focus in on a small "seed" idea inside that watermelon (being "slimed" at the Nick Hotel) to be their writing topic. Students will talk, discuss, and list some watermelon ideas. Then, they should choose some seed ideas within their watermelon ideas. They may start to write a narrative based on the seed idea. During this time, I will be conferencing with writers to see if they are on the right track. After about 30 minutes, a couple of writers will share their seed idea and the beginning of their narrative.

Students fully engaged in reading:

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