Are you interested in launching a reading workshop in your upper elementary classroom this year? If so, this blog post is for you! Today I am going to lay out the 5 routines that you NEED to establish at the beginning of the year in order to have a successful Reading Workshop for months to come.
How do you start a reader’s workshop?
The key to launching a successful reader’s workshop is implementing easy routines and introductory lessons. These will make your mini lessons and independent reading time go over so much more smoothly!
1) Turn & Talk
In it’s basic form, turn and talk is when students talk productively with a partner in order to move their learning forward and practice new skills. Kids need time to practice your expectations surrounding turn and talk. For instance, what will your signal be when you want them to stop and turn back to you? What are your expectations for what they are to talk about? Do they need to stay on topic?
I suggest starting off by having a couple of students model what a turn & talk doesn’t look like and does look like. That way all of your kiddos have a visual to follow.
Then students need a ton of opportunities to practice. You can have them turn & talk about “get to know you” topics like “Who is your favourite super hero?”. This allows them to focus on the skill of turn & talk rather than reading content and strategies.
2) The Structure of Reading Workshop
Kids need to know what to expect. Routine is so important to help them feel calm and ready to learn.
This is why you need to explicitly teach your students how reading workshop goes each day. It seems silly but following the same structure each and every day can really help your kiddos, especially those with Autism.
3) Independent Reading Stamina
Kids need to know what expected and unexpected behaviours are for independent reading time. Then they need time to practice those behaviours so that they can pull them out each and every day.
You will probably want to customize your expected and unexpected behaviours to suit your teacher style but here are the ones that I use.
The key to practicing independent reading is STOPPING each and every time that someone exhibits an unexpected behaviour and is breaking their reading stamina.
This can feel a bit daunting. But trust me, pull out your trusty timer and make it into a contest. Explain to the kiddos that you are trying to see how long the class can read for without breaking their stamina. Then set them off to read. Be strict! As soon as one kid exhibits an unexpected behaviour, call them all back to your meeting area to reflect. Then try again.
I like to use a fun stamina tracking sheet like the one below to help us keep track of our reading stamina during the first few weeks of school.
4) Choosing Books
There are TWO very important lessons within choosing books in an upper elementary reading workshop.
The first is that kids need to choose books that they are interested in! We need to help our readers to discover what type of reader they are so that they can enjoy reading time.
Completing a Reading Identity page like this one can really help students to see themselves as readers.
The second aspect of choosing books is that kids need to read books that kids need to choose “just right” books. This means that they need to be reading books where they know most of the words and can make sense of the story.
Students need to know that it is okay to abandon a book if it is too easy or too hard.
5) Caring for Materials
So you invested in books for your classroom library and are so excited to see your kiddos enjoy them… but then you find torn and water damaged books in and around the room.
This scenario happened to me and it sucked… big time!
So, now I am VERY explicit when showing kids how to care for their materials. I love using the picture book “Never Let a Ghost Borrow your Library Book” in order to teach caring for materials.
So there you have it, 5 routines and foundational lessons that kiddos need in order to be successful in Reading Workshop all year long. If you’re interested in getting the full lesson plans and anchor charts, be sure to check out my Launching Reading Workshop Unit on TPT. It is chalk full of awesome lessons and activities.
Looking for more Reading Workshop Tips? Click to read all about Making Interactive Read Aloud Time Magical in the Upper Elementary Classroom.