Reading workshop is a great way to help your students grow as readers, speakers, and thinkers. In reading workshop, students participate in whole group instruction and independent reading. This includes mini-lessons, independent reading time where students practice reading strategies, reading conferences with you the teacher, and sharing time with their peers.
One of the advantages of using a workshop model is that it provides students with opportunities to work both independently and in small groups. This differentiated approach allows all students to progress at their own pace and level. Students who need extra support can receive targeted help from you during conferences, while more advanced students can receive challenging tasks during independent work time.
Another benefit of using a workshop model is that it helps build student confidence. Because the mini-lesson is delivered to the entire class, all students start on an equal footing. They then have the opportunity to practice new skills independently before sharing their learning with their peers. This gradual release of responsibility builds student confidence and ownership over their learning.
Using a workshop model ensures that all students receive daily instruction in reading comprehension strategies and skills. By embedding these lessons into daily routines, students internalize the strategies and are able to apply them automatically to their reading. This leads to mastery of essential skills and improved comprehension.
Having a routine is important for students, and using a workshop model will help establish routines that are familiar to them. This will make your reading instruction run more smoothly. Let’s take a closer look at each part of a successful reading workshop.
The Structure of Reading Workshop
The example schedule below is based on a 50 minute class period. The workshop itself runs for 40 minutes of that class with 5 minutes at the beginning and end for warm ups and exit tickets. This is the structure I use in my own classroom.
Mini-Lesson (About 10 minutes)
The mini-lesson is generally about 10 minutes long and is the direct instruction portion of the workshop model. In the mini-lesson, you will introduce a new reading strategy or skill to your students which they will practice during their independent reading time. This could include reading a mentor text together and going through examples or teacher think-alouds.
Students should take notes in their Reader’s Notebook as you create an Anchor Chart. Anchor charts are simply a visual representation of the new skill or lesson you are presenting. The lesson you are presenting should be based on student needs and the specific standards your district has asked you to cover.
At the end of the mini-lesson, students should be instructed to use the focus skill during independent reading.
Independent Reading (20 minutes)
After the mini-lesson, students should have about 20 minutes of independent reading time. During this time, students will practice the strategy or skill taught during the mini-lesson. It is important to teach the expectations of Reading Zone so students understand the importance of the time. It should not be seen as “free time” or time to work on other homework. Independet reading should look and sound the same in your class every day. I talk more about Reading Zone in this blog post.
As students are reading, you will be meeting (conferring) with students. It’s during these quick reading conferences that you get to provide students with the individual instruction and support they need. If you’d like to read more about reading conferences, I have a blog on Better Reading Conferences here.
Sharing (5-10 minutes)
At the end of independent reading time spend time having students share out. Sharing time is when students work with a partner or table group to share what they read during their independent reading. You could have students share a brief summary and then something connected to the mini lesson you presented that day or week. Sharing time is a great time for discussion and peer interactions.
It’s important to note that the mini-lesson, independent reading time, and sharing time will look different each day. The overall structure of reading workshop will stay the same, but how you fill each part of the workshop will change based on the needs of your students.
Don’t feel guilty if you take 15 minutes to get through your mini lesson which means students have less time to read that day. There will be other days where you only spend 5 minutes reviewing a skill during the mini lesson and students get more time to read. Structure your class in a way that makes sense for you and your students – and the time restraints put on you by your district – there is more than one way to structure your workshop.
When it comes to reading instruction, the workshop model is a great way to help your students grow as readers, thinkers, and speakers. By providing students with mini-lessons, independent reading time, conferring and sharing time, you can give students the individualized instruction they need to succeed. The predictable schedule allows students to be successful and grow as readers.
If you’re looking for a way to improve reading instruction in your classroom, the reading workshop model is a great place to start.
If you have questions about how to get started please join us in the Facebook group or leave a comment below.