Top Teaching > Beth Newingham > Reading Workshop: What It Looks Like in My Classroom

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Reading Workshop: What It Looks Like in My Classroom

P1000945Richard Allington believes that effective elementary literacy instruction incorporates six common features.  He labels them as the Six Ts.

They are time, texts, teaching, talk, tasks, and testing

His many studies make it clear that students need lots of time to read. It's also important that the time spent reading is done in texts that are "just right" for the students. Explicit teaching of reading strategies and skills followed by meaningful tasks are at the heart of what he believes readers need. He also emphasizes the importance of providing time for readers to engage in authentic talk about their books. Finally, he believes testing should not be used to define students but rather to guide a teacher's instruction so that she can help her readers grow. 

I believe wholeheartedly in the philosophy of reading workshop because, if executed effectively, it allows teachers to seamlessly incorporate these Six Ts into their reading instruction on a daily basis. While it has taken me years to feel entirely comfortable with this reading workshop, I can't imagine another way of teaching reading that would as effectively meet the needs of my readers.

Read on to view a VIDEO of a typical day of reading workshop in our classroom, find tips for workshop management, get new ideas for assigning and managing independent reading tasks, and check out links to reading workshop printables.

Reading Workshop Video

Take a peek into our classroom on a typical day during reading workshop. See the three components (Mini-lesson, Independent Reading, and Closing) in action.

Components of Reading Workshop

The Mini-Lesson

Each Reading Workshop session begins with a mini-lesson that lasts approximately 1015 minutes. During each mini-lesson, the teacher introduces a specific concept, also known as the teaching point. Most often, the teaching point focuses on a reading strategy or skill.  The teacher will explicitly model or demonstrate the skill for the students.

Students then get a chance to practice the skill or strategy on their own or with a partner.  This part of the mini-lesson is called the active engagement.


Teaching Tools

P1080652 Chart paper is great to use when recording or keeping track of student ideas and when modeling tasks for students during the mini-lesson.  However, I often find it limiting during times when I want to organize information into tables and Venn diagrams or when I want to refer to a specific task sheet that I expect students to complete on their own during independent reading time.  For this reason, I often use Microsoft Word to make poster-size versions of graphic organizers or informational posters.  Many times during the active engagement part of the mini-lesson, I want to model for students how to do a task that they will be expected to do on their own that day.  As a class, we complete the task together using a blown-up (poster size) version of the recording sheet so that all students can easily see the work I am doing.

If you are interested in doing this yourself, just click on the "properties" tab before choosing to print a document, and find the option for 2x2 poster printing.  Of course you will have to glue the four pieces of paper together to create the poster.  I also put them on poster board to make them more durable.  The best part is that the posters are now reusable if you laminate them!! I write on them with a Vis-à-Vis overhead projector marker and then just clean them off and store them for the following year when I teach the same lesson.


Talking Partners

Talk partnersI assign my students talking partners at the beginning of the year.  These students always sit next to each other on the carpet during reading mini-lessons and class read-alouds. Whenever I ask students to "turn and talk" during the active engagement part of a mini-lesson, they can quickly position themselves knee-to-knee with this person and have a quick conversation about whatever I ask them to discuss.  Unlike reading partners who need to be at a similar reading level in order to actually read common texts, talking partners can be at different levels of reading ability.  I do not like to change talking partners more than four times a year because I want the partners to build a level of comfort and trust with each other so that their discussions can be open and honest.  Assigning talking partners is a great management strategy because it saves a great deal of time during a mini-lesson or read-aloud.  There is no confusion about who to turn and talk with, as students are able to quickly turn to their talking partner without hesitation.


Mentor Texts

There is nothing better than using mentor texts when modeling reading strategies or when teaching students to notice literary devices and story elements.  I plan my read-alouds strategically so that I have previously read aloud any book that I want to refer to during a mini-lesson.  It is important to point out that the read-aloud is separate from your mini-lesson.  While mentor texts are powerful teaching tools, remember that a mini-lesson is only 1015 minutes long.  Referring to or rereading small parts of a text that has been previously read aloud is better than making the entire read-aloud part of your mini-lesson.  The longer your mini-lesson lasts, the less time students will have to practice the strategy while reading their self-selected books.


Ideas for Mini-Lessons

In our district, teachers are working together at each grade level to write units of study for Reading Workshop.  These units of study include sequentially organized sets of mini-lessons that focus on skills and strategies students are expected to use when reading independently.  I would encourage you to collaborate with colleagues at your grade level to plan your own units of study that incorporate the skills you expect of your readers.  Many of our units are in-depth studies of a specific genre of text.

There are also some great books out there that include mini-lessons that can be used for a variety of grade levels.

Revisiting the Reading Workshop: This Scholastic book has mini-lessons for the first 30 days.

Revisiting Book

Workshops That Work!: This Scholastic book is geared toward grades 4+, but it also provides sequential mini-lessons for the first 30 days.

Workshops book

Frank Serafini also wrote a book called Around the Reading Workshop in 180 Days. In the book, he provides month-by-month strategies for running a reading workshop across an entire year. Another great book that he has written is called Lessons in Comprehension. In it he includes 64 of the most effective comprehension lessons from his own teaching career. For primary grades, Kathy Collins's book Growing Readers is a great option for finding more ideas for suggested units of study throughout the school year.


Individualized Daily Reading (IDR)

During this time students are engaged in self-selected texts at their independent level.  They use this time to practice the skills that are taught during the mini-lessons.  Students read in book nooks around the room while the teacher holds individual reading conferences or meets with small groups of students for guided reading, strategy lessons, or book clubs.



Book Nook Rotation Chart

Book nooksIn my classroom, students are allowed to read in different places around the classroom rather than being confined to their desks.  The place they choose to read is called their "book nook."  There are many comfy places to read in our classroom including a couch, dish chairs, dice stools, and beanbags.  While it is great to have so many comfortable options for independent reading, it can also lead to arguments over who gets to read in the extra special pieces of furniture.  For this reason, we have a book nook rotation schedule in our classroom.  A labeled picture for each special book nook is printed on a vertical banner.  On the left side of the banner next to the book nooks are clips with each student's name and number.  The clips are rotated every day after reading workshop so that all students get to enjoy each book nook an equal number of times throughout the school year.  Knowing where they will read each day allows students to transition very quickly from the mini-lesson to IDR time.


Shopping for Books at the Classroom Library

P1080418 In my classroom, students are not allowed to "shop" for books during independent reading time. Instead they must choose books (when necessary) during our morning work period or even during recess if I am not on duty. I tell my students that their book box should have enough books inside to last them at least two weeks.  This means they are certainly not visiting the classroom library on a daily basis. If a student finishes his or her books during independent reading time, he must reread his books on that day. My 3rd graders are expected to be prepared for workshop every day. That means they are encouraged to shop for new books when they know that they have fewer than two days' worth of reading material left. Making this "no shopping during independent reading time" rule a few years ago really improved the reading environment in my classroom. Readers are not distracted by the inevitable talking that takes place among classmates browsing books at the library, and my small group lessons during that time are now much more productive without the disruption of book shopping.


Talking Back to Books on Sticky Notes

Sticky note pages While there are times when I provide students with a specific handout on which to record their thinking, there are many other times when I just want them to write about their reading on sticky notes as they make their way through their books.  I tell my students to "talk back" to their books as they read.  Whenever they talk back to their book, they leave a sticky note on that page.  Some students have a hard time understanding how to talk back to their books, so they might use the "Talking Back to Books" prompt sheet to get started.  I often ask students to refer to these sticky notes when I confer with them individually about their reading.

Although I confer with students often, I can't be there with them during every book they read.  For this reason, I ask them to take the sticky notes out of their books when they are done and attach them to a "Sticky Note Tracker Sheet" that is then added to their Reader's Notebook.  This way I can see the thinking that is taking place on a regular basis and use it as a tool to guide my individual conversations and necessary instruction with specific students.


The Reader's Notebook


Check back soon for my next post, which will be dedicated specifically to my Reader's Notebook. I will reveal the different sections I include in my students' notebooks, explain how I use them as an assessment tool, and provide links to download many of my Reader's Notebook files.


Guided Reading & Strategy Lessons

GuidedWhile students are reading self-selected texts from their book boxes during IDR time, I am busy, too.  If I am not conferring with students individually, I am usually meeting with them in guided reading groups or strategy groups.  Click on the Guided Reading vs. Strategy Lessons handout to see what makes strategy groups different from guided reading groups.

Guided reading groups contain students who are all reading at the same level.  The teacher provides them with a common text at their instructional level, introduces the book, and points out important text features, tricky vocabulary, or essential story elements.  She then listens in as students read the book to themselves.  The lesson is followed up with a teaching point and some additional modeling of a strategy the teacher feels is necessary based on her observations.  Strategy Lesson Planning SheetOn the other hand, a strategy lesson can be made up of readers from many different levels who are all struggling with the same skill or strategy.  I usually have the students use books from their book box to practice the skill or strategy I am modeling for them.  Strategy lessons take the form of a short mini-lesson but only with a few readers. 

You may be asking, how do you come up with ideas for strategy lessons?  I use this Strategy Lesson Planning Sheet. Whenever I confer with a reader, administer a formal assessment (DRA, Fountas and Pinnell, etc.), or meet with students in a guided reading group, I keep track of skills with which certain students are struggling.  When more than two students are struggling with the same skill, that becomes a future strategy group lesson with those students.  (Some strategy lessons I have already taught this year include "reading through periods/not paying attention to punctuation," "rereading when meaning breaks down," "using appropriate decoding strategies," "recording books properly in reader's notebook," "talking back to books effectively," etc.)


Independent Reading Self-Checklist

Checklist When a teacher chooses to implement Reading Workshop in her classroom, it means giving up some control and giving more responsibility to the student readers.  Many teachers feel as though students in a reading workshop are not held accountable on a daily basis.  Of course there are usually daily tasks, and teacher is also still meeting with students in individual conferences and in guided reading and strategy groups.  However, it is impossible to check in with every student every day.  For this reason, I use a self-checklist that students are asked to complete during the last two minutes of workshop everyday before returning to the carpet for the closing.  As a class, the students helped me create a list of the four to five most important things they believe they should be doing during IDR time.  At the end of each week, students hand in their self-checklists so that I can look them over.  In some instances I use the information to address concerns with specific students during upcoming reading conferences.  I then send the completed checklists home for parents to see as well.

Download IDR Self-Checklist



This is a 510 minute time period in which students gather back on my reading carpet to reflect on their work as readers.  I make sure to reinforce my teaching point for the day and emphasize the importance of continuing to use the strategy that I taught whenever they read from now on.  I also give students a chance to share their reading work.  Since I certainly do not have time every day for every reader to share, I vary the way I allow my students to share.  Below are some options for the closing share.  (Remember, I do not do all of these every day!)

Reading Partner Share

A quick way to provide time for all students to share the work or the thinking they did during IDR time is to have them quickly turn and talk with their reading partner to reflect on their reading work or discuss the reading task.


Reader of day Reader of the Day

Sometimes I will highlight a specific reader who has done the reading task very well or who I notice is successfully using a reading strategy I have taught in previous lessons.  That student will share her work or model the strategy she used for the class.  I even have a cheap little "Reader of the Day" trophy that is awarded to these students who do exceptional reading work.  They get to keep the trophy at their desk for the day.  It is considered a top honor in our classroom.



Revisit Chart From Mini-Lesson

There are times when the reading task is an extension of a chart or a discussion we started during the mini-lesson.  As students read, they are expected to think more about the concept and then be able to add to the chart when we return for the closing.  Their ideas may simply be added on sticky notes they created while they read so that I do not have to spend too much time writing all of their additional ideas.


Link to Home Reading

My students are expected to read at least 15 minutes at home every night.  I often remind them to use the new strategy or concept that I taught during the current day's mini-lesson while they are reading at home.  On some days, I even ask them to continue the IDR task at home.  On these days, they will bring home their Reader's Notebook so that they can record their thinking as they read their required 15 minutes outside of school.


Keeping Yourself Organized

It can be challenging to plan ahead and keep all of the components of reading workshop organized on a daily basis.  When I first started implementing reading workshop, this Reading Workshop Planning Sheet was helpful to use so that I knew exactly what I was doing each day.  Of course, I do not meet with two groups and confer with four readers every day, so I only fill in what I am planning to accomplish.

RW Planning Sheet


Assessment in the Reading Workshop

This is a complicated topic, as there are so many ways to assess your readers on a regular and "as needed" basis.  I will discuss the many ways that I assess my readers in a separate post in the near future.  Check back soon!


More Reading Workshop Links

More About Reading Workshop in My Classroom

Books About Reading Workshop

Posters of the Three Components of Reading Workshop (as seen below)

Mini%20Lesson poster

 IDR poster



You can also check out Angela Bunyi's awesome Reading Workshop Video in the video player section of Teaching Matters!


If you don't want to miss upcoming posts about the Reader's Notebook and Assessment in the Reading Workshop, subscribe to the RSS feed for this blog!



  • #21 Angela

    Sunday, February 07, 2010 at 08:27 PM

    I know you have briefly touched on this subject before but I am still scratching my head on basal readers. Our county has an adopted basal reading program. In short we are required to use it. Any ideas on using it without spending valuable authentic reading time on it? I love the workshop approach but I still find myself reverting back to the basal for grades. How will I still get grades for the report cards when we use the A, B, C letter grading system? Thanks for all of your amazing ideas and excitement for teaching!

  • #22 Beth Newingham

    Tuesday, February 02, 2010 at 06:07 AM

    Hi Lee Ann,

    You asked about where I fit my read aloud into my day as well as word study concepts like vocabulary, synonyms, prefixes, dictionary skills, etc. Read aloud and word study are not part of my one hour reading workshop block. They are often connected to it in terms of the strategies I model in the book I read aloud or the word study concepts I am teaching, but they are not squeezed into the one hour block. Here is what a typical morning looks like in my classroom.

    8:45-9:10 Morning Work (usually realted to grammar)
    9:10-10:10 Reading Workshop
    10:10-10:40 Special (gym, music, Media,or Art)
    10:40-11:25 Writing Workshop
    11:25-11:50 Word Study
    11:50-12:10 Read Aloud

    In terms of your unmotivated readers, there will always be those students who are less interested in reading. However, I have found that when they are truly reading books (of their own choosing) at their independent reading level, they are much more capable of sustaining their reading over a longer period of time. I have made sure that my classroom library is equipped to satisfy the interests and the reading levels of my lower readers so that they are not constantly trying to read books that are too challenging for them.

    Thanks for your posts! I hope my ideas are helpful, even in your seemingly difficult situation.


  • #23 Lee Ann R.

    Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 05:41 PM

    Hi again!
    Thanks for your ideas. I totally agree with you that the basal stories are not at grade level. I work with the low readers' class as Title I assistance, and they cannot read many of the words, and the stories are so long, that they don't hold their interest. They don't hold my interest!! I previously asked you how to do Readers' Workshop in an hour,and I see that your schedule works in one hour. You also suggested to use the basal story as a read aloud. When do you schedule a read aloud within the hour block? The students have reading class for one hour,and then move on down the hall to their math class. I could do Readers' Workshop, but when would I do read aloud as well as teach vocabulary, synonyms,prefixes, dictionary skills, etc.?
    Also, I can picture those students who would try to get out of reading and who don't because they don't like to and/or have difficulty with reading(low achievers). Do you have a plan to deal with them and/or encourage them to read?
    Thanks again for your great ideas! Have a good week!
    Lee Ann

  • #24 Beth Newingham

    Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 04:43 PM


    As I reread your post, I realized I didn't answer the last part of your question. You wanted to know if it's okay for students to "just read" for 40 minutes during IDR time. My answer is definitely "yes," as long as they are reading with a purpose. I always teach a mini-lesson each day, so there is always a teaching point that I make before sending my students off to read. While I may not assign them a specific written task to complete in the 40 minutes, I make sure that they are always asked to think about something, notice something, or try out a new strategy when reading. In this way, their reading is not completely interrupted by a writing assignment, but they are reading with a purpose.

    I hope I have answered your questions!


  • #25 Beth Newingham

    Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 04:38 PM


    You asked about sticky note thinking. I use this task as a way for students to show me what they are thinking as they are reading. I introduce it at the beginning of the school year and revisit the task when necessary since it is a great way for students to stop and think about what they are reading. However, it is not something I expect my readers to be doing on a daily basis. If done too often, it can actually interrupt the flow of reader and detract from comprehension. My hope is that the practice will lead to students "talking back to books" in their head naturally as they read independently. Below are some of the tasks I ask of my readers beyond just thinking on sticky notes.

    On most days, the IDR task is directly related to the mini-lesson I am teaching. For example, If I am teaching a lesson about context clues, I will ask students to briefly write about a word that they were able to solve that day using a context-clue strategy I taught in the mini-lesson. They would do such a task on the "3-to-a-page" IDR task response sheet that I referenced in the post. This is the most common type of task I assign because I want my students reading most of the time. I do not want them having to spend more time responding to their reading than actually being engaged in their texts.

    On other days, then I might just ask students to use sticky notes to mark places in their text where they notice something. For example, when teaching students to pay attention to a character's dialogue when inferring character traits, I just ask them to write the character trait they are inferring on a sticky note and place it next to the corresponding dialogue in their text. This holds them accountable for applying the skill I taught in the mini-lesson, but it does not detract from their independent reading.

    In terms of talking back to their books on sticky notes, I really do not assign this task on a very regular basis. If there is not a specific task for the day, I may ask my readers to "talk back to your book at least 3 times today." If I have a concern about a specific student's comprehension, I may ask that student to talk back to his book on sticky notes more often just so that I can "see" his thinking even when I am not reading with him directly.

    I hope this helps you to understand more thoroughly how use the sticky note thinking and how I assign IDR tasks each day.


  • #26 Marie

    Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 06:03 PM

    I have a question about your Sticky Thinking. Do you require your students to do it everyday during IDR time? Do they have to have so many to turn in at the end of the day or is it just an outlet to jot the thinking down on when it is not a time to share? I have some kids that I know are reading the whole time, but NEVER write down anything on a Sticky Note. They have have like 2 pages filled for this entire school year. I get frustrated at times because I have modeled it, shared examples of classmates, done it as a class read aloud, and again in small groups. Most of the time, it is my stronger readers that just want to read. I almost feel like they don't want to be bothered with it. While I know I need to be able to hold the students accountable for they are doing while I cannot meet with them, I hate to keep on these students about doing it when they are truly motivated and strong readers. What do you do if a student is not doing the Sticky Thinking as they are reading independently? Do you have kids that just read for 40 minutes without doing anything except reading the book? Is that ok?

  • #27 Beth Newingham

    Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 07:53 AM


    You asked if I have my students reading the same book at home that I do during reading workshop. That is a great question!

    When I first started my reading workshop, I really wanted to make sure that students who were reading chapter books were taking home the book they started at school and using that same book for their nightly reading. I felt like it was important for third graders not to have two different chapter books going at the same time, so I instituted a "take-home" book bag for students to easily transport their chapter books to and from school.

    However, I began having the same problem you mentioned. Students would forget their book at home and then not have it at school to continue reading during IDR time. I was frustrated with this common occurrence. At this point, I do not require that students read the same book at school and at home. If students ask to take their chapter book home to continue reading for their nightly reading minutes, I have no problem with that. However, I do not require that students are taking home their chapter books every night. What I have found is that my most responsible students are usually the ones who choose to take home their books, and they rarely forget to return them to school the next day.

    There are some exceptions to the rule, however. If students are reading a chapter book in a book club or a reading partnership, they will need to bring home their chapter book if they have not read the necessary pages that need to be completed in order to be prepared for a book discussion. If they do not have their book at school on the day their book club or partnership is scheduled to meet, they receive debits since a forgotten book on that day is comparable to a missing assignment. You can read my classroom economy post for more information about debits:

    I hope this answers your question!


  • #28 Julie

    Saturday, January 23, 2010 at 09:14 AM

    I have so enjoyed reading and rereading your posts in order to implement reading workshop in my classroom. It has been a challenging and fun process! My question is if you have your students read the same books at home that they are reading during IDR time. At this point I do, but I am finding that when books are left at home it really disrupts the reading that occurs at school. I prefer for them to be reading one book at a time but am open to suggestions to make it easy for the students (and me!). Thanks for all of your work and effort to share what you are doing in your classroom!

  • #29 Beth Newingham

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 07:42 AM

    Leen Ann,

    My reading workshop actually lasts for exactly an hour each day, so you can definitely still run a reading workshop even with your team teaching schedule.

    My daily reading workshop schedule is as follows:
    Mini-lesson: 10-15 minutes
    Independent Reading: 35-45 minutes
    Closing: 5-10 minutes

    Perhaps you can use the basal texts as your read-aloud stories instead of having the students read from the basal during reading workshop. It is likely that the basal text is not even a "just right" text for your entire class. I found that the basal stories were often too hard for many readers and too easy for others. If you use the basal stories for your read aloud, this will give your students valuable time to read self-selected texts (at their independent level) during your reading workshop.

    You also asked about the literacy center files on my website. Unfortunately, they can only be opened using Print Shop since that is the program I used to create them. I'm sorry about that!

    Good luck implementing a reading workshop in your classroom. It is certainly an awesome way to teach reading!


  • #30 Lee Ann R.

    Sunday, January 10, 2010 at 02:29 PM

    Hi Beth!
    I just happened to stumble across your website when I was looking for center ideas. Wow! I love your classroom and how fun and inviting it looks. You're fortunate to have a large room with lots of room to have the bulletin board displays.
    I am a Title I teacher. I love the Reading Workshop idea; however, at our school,we team teach. There are 3 teachers per grade level and one teaches reading, one teaches math,and one teaches writing(grammar and spelling are included during writing),1st-5th grades, as the students rotate in ability groups to each room for 1-hour blocks.(This is all before lunch.) From what I am understanding, you need more than one hour for Reading Workshop. We also are required to use the basal,but the stories are so long to read and with time constraints, the students listen to the stories on CD and don't do much reading to build their fluency. I'm thinking Reading Workshop would be so much better. Do you think Reading Workshop could be managed in one hour?
    Thanks so much for any insight!
    One more thing--I LOVE your literacy centers, but I don't have Print Shop. Is that the only way to copy them?
    Have a Happy New Year!

  • #31 Beth Newingham

    Thursday, January 07, 2010 at 06:16 PM


    Our Math on the Water board is constantly changing to reflect the skills that students are learning in each unit. For that reason, it is difficult to explain exactly what is on the board at any given time.

    I will be doing a post specifically on this daily math activity in the upcoming months. Stay tuned!


  • #32 Beth Newingham

    Thursday, January 07, 2010 at 06:13 PM


    You asked if students are reading a different book each day to complete the mini-lesson task or if they are reading a chapter book over time. That is hard to answer because it is different for every reader.

    My higher readers are reading chapter books the majority of the time, while some of my lower readers may still be choosing picture books at their level. By this time of the year, most of my students are usually reading a chapter book over a longer period of time. However, the recording sheet that you see in my post is from the beginning of the school year. During the first month, I ask my third graders to read only fiction picture books so that they can become comfortable recording many books in their reading log and determining each book's genre.


  • #33 Jennifer

    Tuesday, January 05, 2010 at 04:55 PM

    Would you please tell me specifically what activites you have on your Math on the Water board.
    Thank you.

  • #34 Brittany Crimmings

    Sunday, January 03, 2010 at 07:45 PM

    Thank you so much for all this information!! I often look to your website for inspiration-I had a quick question about the mini lesson with the Reader's Workshop. Are they reading a small book they can finish in that time or a chapter book over time? It looked like on the recording sheet that it was always a different book so I was curious about the ones reading chapter books. Thanks for any help in this area!!!

  • #35 Beth Newingham

    Sunday, January 03, 2010 at 11:32 AM


    You asked if I teach the ELA standards within my reading workshop or during a different instructional time. In our district, we definitely incorporate the ELA standards into the units we teach in reading workshop. It is important that these skills are taught within the reading workshop so that students are applying the skills and strategies in their independent reading on a daily basis.

    Thanks for your comment!


  • #36 Beth Newingham

    Sunday, January 03, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    B Bell,

    Thanks for your compliments! I am lucky to be teaching in a district where many teachers are "on board" with the reading workshop approach. While I am helping other teachers in my district implement successful reading workshops in their own classrooms via professional development and training, my colleagues have developed successful workshops in their own classrooms in their own unique and individual ways. I love hearing about the different ways teachers conduct their workshops throughout the district. Sharing ideas amongst each other has been so helpful for all of us!


  • #37 Beth Newingham

    Sunday, January 03, 2010 at 11:25 AM


    It sounds like you are implementing guided reading on a regular basis. That is great, especially when you have so many low readers in your classroom. However, I would also be sure to teach a whole-group mini-lesson each day, even if you don't think all of the students will be able to apply the strategy you decide to teach. It is still important to give your students a purpose for their independent reading each day while you are conducting guided reading groups.

    Good luck with the implementation of reading workshop in your classroom!


  • #38 Beth Newingham

    Sunday, January 03, 2010 at 11:20 AM


    You said that you are teaching a multi-level class in which you are finding it hard to implement reading and writing workshops. While a "split" class is certainly a challenge, I believe there is no better approach than a workshop approach in this situation.

    If I was in your shoes, I would make sure that that my mini-lesson each day focused on skills that were necessary for the majority of the class. Based on the ability of the readers in your classroom, you can decide to teach lessons that cover both first and second grade skills. Really when it comes to reading, it is not the grade level that matters but the reading level of your students. I know that I have third graders reading at a 6th grade level and third graders reading at a 1st grade level in my classroom this year. I still teach lessons that are appropriate for the average third grader during my whole-class mini-lessons.

    The differentiation occurs during individualized daily reading time
    (IDR) when I hold guided reading groups, confer with individual readers, and teach strategy lessons to meet the very specific needs of my readers. It is during this important small-group instructional time that you can really tailor your teaching to meet the needs of all of your students. If your whole-class mini-lessons target the average reader or writer in your classroom, your guided reading lessons and your strategy lessons will be the time when you can work more intensively with your low readers/writers and also really challenge your higher readers and writers.

    I wish you the best of luck!!


  • #39 Beth Newingham

    Sunday, January 03, 2010 at 10:58 AM


    We get the mini buckets for our bucket filling display from Oriental Trading. Here is a link to the item:

    I will be posting about exactly how bucket filling works in our classroom in the upcoming months!


  • #40 Beth Newingham

    Sunday, January 03, 2010 at 10:55 AM


    You asked how we address test prep in our district. We actually take our state test at the beginning of October, so we do not have much time at the beginning of the school year to prepare our students for the test. (We start school after Labor Day.)

    We like to think that the teaching we are already doing is preparing our students to perform well on the standardized test. However, we do build in some time for test taking strategies. At the end of the school year, our last units in reading workshop are "Making Plans for Summer Reading" and "Test-Taking Strategies." Since we are limited to a few weeks in the fall before students are expected to take the test, we know that we must do some work at the end of the school year as well. When students do return to school in the fall, we review the test-taking strategies that were taught the year before. However, we make sure that it does not conflict with our launching of reading and writing workshops. Some districts do all test prep until the test and do not launch their workshops until after the test. With this approach, students are not even reading self-selected texts at their own level until the end of October. We try to make sure that test prep takes the place of a different subject whenever it is done. For example, it might take the place of reading workshop one day, math another day, social studies another day, and science on a different day. This way regular routines are established in all subject areas instead of pushing good teaching aside to focus just on test taking.

    I hope I've answered your question!


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