“We can’t learn to swim without swimming, to write without writing, to sing without singing, or to read without reading.” – The Art of Teaching Reading, Lucy Calkins
This summer 20 FWSU teachers, reading specialists, and special educators representing grades K-5 came together with instructors Ellen Thompson and Hillary Kissel to learn the components of Readers’ Workshop, the materials that support the model, and how to launch Readers’ Workshop at the beginning of the school year.
Readers’ Workshop is an effective and thoughtfully designed model supported by evidence of reading success. The model provides a structure in which teachers can meet the needs of whole group, small group, and individual students. The workshop model is not just about a structure to meet reading standards; it is about creating a community in which students take ownership, pride, and joy in their own growth as readers.
Teachers were provided with the Readers’ Workshop Units of Study, A Guide to the Reading Workshop, and trade books for their grade level.
During this course, teachers learned that teaching students reading routines and procedures intentionally is critical. The model refers to this as “launching Readers’ Workshop.”
During Launch, the students learn and experience the procedures for Readers’ Workshop. There are many “Launch” procedures, and teachers worked collaboratively to create the Launch that would work best for their learners. Some of those procedures might be: picking “just right” books (books they can both read and understand), building stamina to be able to read for longer and longer periods of time, and buzzing about books which establish guidelines for sharing.
The successful Launch results in reading time being the best time of the day for students. That joy and enthusiasm is a key feature of teachers’ project presentations at our final class.
This quote provides the perfect summary of the course from a teacher’s perspective:
“The Reading workshop course has helped me see where the workshop model fits within my classroom environment and has given me the opportunity to collaborate with other grade levels. The benefits of this course have been shown in my students’ reactions to their learning. Reading Workshop has brought enthusiasm about reading back into my classroom! Students are given choice and ownership of their reading, sparking their interest. Students are coming in excited to talk about books and enjoy the time they get to spend sitting down to read. I look forward to seeing how the rest of the year progresses and I am thankful to have had the support of this course to get me started.”
–Mariah Mandigo, Grade 5 Teacher at Georgia Elementary Middle School.