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Reader’s Workshop

Reader's workshop provides a flexible framework you can adapt and implement to suit your students' needs, and help them to learn to read so they want to. Frank Serafini

 

What is Reader’s Workshop?

Reader’s workshop is a teaching model which allows students to engage in authentic reading experiences. It is an efective way to diferentiate instruction. 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.

How does Reader’s Workshop support differentiation?

Many of the key principles of differentiation are embedded in Reader’s Workshop, which makes it an effective teaching strategy to use with students at different stages of reading development. 

The model encourages :

Flexibility
  • There are opportunities for students to read with the whole class, in small groups and individually.
  • Students may be at different places in their development as readers at any given time.
  • Mini-lessons can be differentiated to meet students’ reading needs.
  • There are options for using technology to support and/or extend learning
Choice

Students make choices about :

  • how much or how long they will read
  • what they will read (books, magazines, graphic novels etc.)
  • where and with whom they will read
Student Engagement
  • All students can participate because they are able to choose reading material that matches their interests and readability level.
  • Activities are challenging enough to move students forward in their learning and yet remain suited to their abilities.
  • Activities are student centered and are designed to guide them to become independent, lifelong lovers of reading
Shared Responsibility
  • Students develop an understanding of what good readers do.
  • They reflect on their reading and monitor their own progress.
  • They receive feedback from peers and teacher and give feedback to others.
  • They set objectives and timelines for their reading.

Strategies that Support Students 

The following strategies come from the work of Kylene Beers and can be found in her book, When Kids Can’t Read : What Teachers Can Do, (2003).

Say Something

This strategy teaches students how to recognize their thinking and talk about it in pairs. Students take turns reading a text and occasionally stop to "say something" about what they have read.

When students say something they can :

  • comment
  • predict
  • ask a question
  • clarify something
  • make a connection

Write Something

This strategy is similar to Say Something except students write in response to a short story, poem, a selection from a longer text, etc. The strategy helps students become better at making inferences.

Procedure :

  • Add breaks to a selected text, creating space for students to write something.
  • Students write "I wonder why’ type questions, i.e. one’s not answered in the text, in the spaces.
  • Students create a theory for one of their questions and explain what is in the text and the world that makes them think their theory makes sense.
  • Students share their responses with a partner and participate in a whole class discussion.

Strategic Rereading

Strategic rereading is the beginning of analysis and leads students to become better readers who are able to find their own voices and those of the author in the text they are reading.

Procedure :

  • Select a short story (poem, selection from a longer text, etc.).
  • Provide a copy for each student.
  • Read the selection aloud.
  • Read the selection again, and this time have the students underline any words or phrases that resonate with them.
  • Students select the most important line or phrase and write about it, explaining why they think it is the most important.
  • Students share their ideas in groups and participate in a class discussion.
  • After sharing the students can reflect about whether or not they changed their minds about the most important line or phrase and why.

 

Getting Started with Reader’s Workshop

You can find out more about using the Reader’s Workshop model with your students here.

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