Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Reading Workshop-Taking the Plunge

Over the summer I read The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.
If you haven't read it, it is a must read! At the time I read this book, I had been teaching for eight years and had been toying with the idea of running a Reading Workshop in my classroom. I had sucessfully run a Writing Workshop for a number of years, but I was scared to try a Reading Workshop...I had so many questions running through my head. Did I have enough books in my classroom library to appeal to my students? Would my students learn the skills they needed to learn in a Reading Workshop? How would I asses my students to know that they were really learning? Reading Miller's book helped me decide to take the plunge.

Over the summer, I read countless blogs and searched on Pinterest for Reading Workshop ideas. When the school year started I was so thankful I decided to try it. My class was made up of three students well below grade level, three way above grade level and the rest of them falling somewhere in between. Having such a huge span of reading abilities made doing a Reading Workshop a huge blessing. My students were able to read books they enjoyed and that were on their level. I was also freed up to meet with students individual or in small groups to help strengthen their abilities.

The beginning of the year was a slow and steady start. The students and I brainstormed the first few days about what our workshop should look like and sound like.
Our class created "looks like, sounds like" chart
We also talked about how to find our "just right books." This was a struggle for some of my kids. I spent the first week helping my students find books after the mini lesson instead of conferencing to help my kiddos find "just write books" they could enjoy.
Student reading on our class ipad
One boy in particular had a hard time finding books. Every book I showed him was shot down. "I don't like to read Mrs. Hunter." So after a few days I finally got him to settle down and read Captain Underpants. That was all he needed, he read through the entire series and moved onto the Bone series. He is now reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid and I couldn't be happier! (He would still rather play video games or be outside than read, but he does read quietly for 30 min. each day during our Reading Workshop! Talk about a turn around!)
In his comfy reading "nook"
Reading Workshop is helping to develop a love of reading in my students, but how do I assess them? I'll share more on that topic later this week. Do any of you use a Reading Workshop approach to teaching reading? What are your "go-to" books for your kiddos that hate to read?


  1. We use Reader's Workshop also. Aside from one year with scripted program, it's all we've ever done. For my reluctant readers, I keep extra copies of our read aloud around or I encourage them to read picture books.


  2. LOVED this book and so want to implement her read x number of books this year program rather than AR. I love reading workshop - we just adopted a new basal, so it's tough to manage it all.

  3. I loved The Book Whisperer! I read it a couple of years ago and just loved implementing it into my readers workshop!
    Rambling About Reading

  4. I read that book last summer also! Her ideas are so powerful and hit the nail on the head. Good for you persisting with those reluctant readers! It pays off!!
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  5. I've implemented a lot of ideas from her book in my room!

    My old stand-bys for kids besides Wimpy Kid who need encouragement to read would be 39 clues, graphic novels like Amulet or Bone and the Origami Yoda series.

    Sweet Rhyme – Pure Reason