Saturday, July 20, 2013

How can I make Reading Workshop work in the upper grade levels?

At the end of this past year, my teacher friend that I miss DEARLY, sent me an email asking me how to explain what Reading Workshop would look like in the upper grades. She teaches Jr. High reading/writing. It took me a while to think it over, (plus I'm changing positions at my school, so I had to pack my room up! Yuck!----but Yay for a new position!!), but I finally came up with this lengthy, VERY lengthy suggestion if anyone needs it:
(And just FYI, I'm a HUGE Book Whisperer fan! :)
Okay, so I've been thinking about this and began to think about how I would do this in my classroom if I had a 50 minute block for each class. I would be focusing on the "concept of the week" with each class (ex. main idea/character analysis, etc.)

Students would self-select books after I've discussed HOW to do that (even junior high kids need a reminder and how to choose a Good Fit Book, and some may not even know how.)

We would probably spend the first two-three weeks of school JUST choosing books and discussing with one another books we love, making recommendations, building a love for literacy in my classroom. Part of each day would involve "Reading to Self" with me visiting and listening/discussing books with students until I know each child is reading an on level book they are interested in. Some "book clubs" may NATURALLY form if I have more than one copy of title. (This happened with my 4th graders this year, and it it was amazing to watch!)

After the first 2-3 weeks of school-which has given me enough time to focus on what my students' needs are- I begin to pull 3-4 students back to my table and discuss the focus of the week. It DOESN'T  matter if they are all reading the same book or not. What matters is that we can all have the same conversation about a specific TEK, or simply discuss Text to Text/Text to World/Text to Self. It's also a PERFECT opportunity for readers to share their books and allow other students to become interested in what they're reading.

GRADES: I would take grades from: SHORT passages given as "Bell work" with ONLY 5-6 specific questions, Reading Reflections from their Reading Journals (design a rubric of what you're looking for and have the students self-evaluate, or give themselves a grade. This grade could count as a daily grade.), and 3 week/6 week/9week assessments.

So here would be my daily class schedule...let's say it's my 1st period class and it is 8:30-9:20:

8:30-8:40 BELL Work (This might be a quiz, filling out your self-evaluation, or simply making sure you have your Good Fit Book and you're settled and ready to read for the day).

8:40-8:50 Read to Self (This is a time for you allow students to "get into" their books before you start to pull small groups.-or you could start pulling right away. This might ALSO be a good time to do a SHORT mini lesson on the focus of the week.)

8:50-9:15 Pull two small groups, or one-on-one conference with students.****Other students are doing one of the following: ---Reading to Self
                                           ---Reflecting on Reading
                                           ---Peer reflecting (Have beforehand made specific comprehension questions that students can use as they sit and discuss their books with each other.)

My personal expectations would be that they MUST reflect on reading twice a week because they have to submit a self evaluation on Friday. :)

9:15-9:20 Get ready for Dismissal-closing Remarks

Hope this helps! Laying this out kinda makes me want to teach it!! The time will go by REALLY fast, and you will feel like you're not "getting to everything", but you ARE! If you lay the foundation of teaching them to self reflect, then you can easily give a short lesson on what you want them to reflect on and reenforce it in a small group.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


We used magazines to find contractions and their derivatives. Students glued them into their Word Study Journals. It was a mess, but great learning was reinforced!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Digging Deeper

One of the phrases my students have gotten used to me saying this year is:

 "Dig deeper with your thinking!"

I don't, (I won't!) allow my students to stay on the surface of their thinking any longer!

Here is our "Digging Deeper" Character trait poster:

We then took our "deep thinking" and applied it to the main character in the book Tiger Rising. Each student came to the board and contributed to the class anchor chart.

We REFUSE to do the minimum!! We will ALWAYS do the MAXIMUM!!