Launching Readers’ Workshop

The key to a successful readers’ workshop is teaching your students the right procedures so that the workshop runs smoothly and effectively.  Use these launching lessons to create a more organized and meaningful experience for you and your students.  Since many of these lessons build the foundation of your workshop and are more managerial in their intent, not all address a common core standard.

A true reading workshop begins with a 10 to 15 minute mini-lesson.  Some teachers prefer to read the suggested book for the lesson during a read aloud time earlier in the day or even the day before.  This allows the students to enjoy the story before being asked to focus on a specific concept or purpose.  It also helps the teacher keep the mini-lesson within the 15 minute suggested time frame because only the portion of the story that is needed for the lesson can be reread.   Following the mini-lesson, students move to self-selected or independent reading.  During this time students should be given a task to complete in order to help them stay focused and to allow them to practice a new skill.  As students read independently and respond to their reading in very specific ways, the teacher conferences with individual students.  If you do not yet have a system set up for conferencing, we have a few ideas and forms here:  At the conclusion of independent reading, the class returns to the meeting spot to review the lesson and discuss what students did to practice a new skill on their own.

What Readers’ Workshop Looks Like  This beginning lesson helps students set classroom rules for a readers’ workshop.

How to Choose Just Right Books – This lesson includes a fun way to illustrate to students how to make sure they are picking “just right” books.

**T-shirt template for above lesson







***Another resource for this lesson – I PICK Poster









Good Readers Build Stamina  This lesson includes a class graphing activity where readers practice building stamina during readers’ workshop.

Buzzing About Books! – This lesson helps students understand the expectations involved in discussing the books they are reading (with partners) during sharing time.









Being Respectful and Organized  This lesson follows a read aloud of the book The Librarian of Basra:  A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter.  In this story, a librarian in Iraq works to protect her books during war.  Students create a list of ways to take care of the classroom books.

Procedures for Exchanging Books for Independent Reading Time – Students need to be able to exchange the books in their baggies or baskets at least once a week in order to keep interest high and a more focused independent reading time.  Here we present a lesson to show students how to pick which books they will exchange and a few different book exchange procedure ideas that have worked in our classrooms.  Regardless of your system for exchanging books, be sure that one of your early mini-lessons teaches students the specific procedures for this in your classroom.

What Good Readers Do – This lesson gets your students thinking about how they can take charge of their own reading growth.

The Habits of GREAT Readers – This lesson has students talking with older, more experienced readers to learn the habits that they have created.  This is similar to the lesson “What Good Readers Do”, but goes into more depth about the thinking that should take place before, during and after reading.

Good Readers Listen to Their Inner Voice as They Read – This lesson teaches students what their “inner voice” is and how to listen to and use that inner voice to make sure they understand what they’re reading.

Good Readers Use Context Clues to Read New Words  This lesson includes a read aloud of the book Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton where students use context clues to decode new words.  (Another book of your choice can be used.)

Good Readers Use Pictures to Read New Words  This lesson can be done on a smartboard.  Students read the text and discuss how picture clues can help readers read new words.

Good Readers Use Chunking to Read New Words  This lesson can be done on a smartboard or other type of board.  Students practice using chunking to decode new words.

Good Readers Use Strategies to Help Them Understand What They Read – This lesson teaches students about the importance of picture walks, rereading, questioning, visualizing and summarizing in comprehending stories.

**”What Can I Do to Make Sure I Understand My Book?” Poster

Good Readers Record What They Have Read  This lesson shows students how to record and keep track of what they have read. The teacher can choose any book to read aloud and a reading log of choice.  The teacher models how to use then reading log and then, students use the reading log during indpendent reading.  Possible reading logs are provided below.


Reading logs to be used with the above lesson can be found here:


Good Readers Practice Fluency  This lesson includes a read aloud of the book Pirates Don’t Change Diapers by David Shannon.

Good Readers Use Post-It Notes as They Read    This lesson includes a read aloud of the book Too Many Toys by David Shannon.  The teacher models using post-it notes to record thinking while reading.   (Another book of your choice can be used.)

Readers Need Strategies for Reading Nonfiction Books – It seems many primary students are drawn to nonfiction books.  This lesson is an introduction to reading nonfiction books that may or may not be too difficult.  You will go into more depth about nonfiction strategies in your Nonfiction Unit of Study, however students will need some strategies for books they are reading right now and this lesson gives them a start.

Asking Questions Before, During and After Reading – Students need to learn to purposefully and spontaneously ask questions as they read.  Use this graphic organizer (Question & Answer Map) to model asking questions while you read.  You can print it and let students fill in as they go along, put it on the smartboard or print one on the poster maker.  After completing the model as a class, have students practice on their own during independent reading.  Go here to find more resources to extend this lesson:




Leave a Comment

  • Margie Miller July 31, 2012, 8:34 pm

    Thank you so much!

  • Natalie August 8, 2012, 12:16 am

    This is just what I have been looking for! Thanks

  • Marie September 2, 2012, 8:12 pm

    thank you so, so much!!!

  • Meredith Ashton November 9, 2012, 8:24 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Michelle April 3, 2013, 9:57 pm

    Thank you! I appreciate all the time and effort you have put into these lessons.

  • Nancy June 7, 2013, 7:31 pm

    Thankls so very much for these wonderful resources and ideas. Now I have my first 2 weeks of back to school reading planned!

  • Nadine June 29, 2013, 10:30 am

    Your site is a god send! I am a new teacher and looking for all the help I can get. Thank you!!!

  • Susie July 24, 2013, 1:42 pm

    You give me such hope; with your help maybe I can pull this off. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your wonderful resources.

  • April August 3, 2013, 12:18 am

    Thank you so much. These plans are clear and straight forward. This is exactly what a new teacher needs.

  • Luvbees August 6, 2013, 9:14 pm

    Thank you — this is so helpful!

  • Anita Buie-Nieto January 20, 2014, 6:46 pm

    This was a great resource for beginning the reader’ s workshop model. The lesson were also user friendly and can be easily applied to other lessons as well.

  • Robin February 19, 2014, 7:07 pm

    Great resources !!! Thanks

  • Ashley June 18, 2014, 6:06 pm

    I cannot even explain my excitement when I found your website. This is exactly what I have been looking for. Building the foundation for a successful reading workshop is so important and I’m positive with this set of mini lessons, I will set up my 2nd grade classroom for success! Thank you so much!


  • Elaine August 20, 2014, 1:17 am

    Thank you so much for clearly demonstrating the way to launch Readers’ Workshop. I will be the one and only to implement this reading program at my school and am extremely appreciative of your knowledge and resources.

  • Kimberly Gryszko September 16, 2014, 7:57 pm

    Establishing routines and procedures for reading workshop is critical to the success of the teacher having time with small groups for focused instruction. Spending time setting up and practicing routines is often overlooked. I plan to use these resources with new teachers as they establish their reading workshop! Thank you!

  • Mr. Mayfield September 17, 2014, 5:47 pm

    What ever you do, keep this site going. As a first year Exceptinal Children teacher, your resources have been amazing at building up a great readers workshop climate for my students. Thanks!

  • Tammy Schlitter July 26, 2015, 4:25 pm

    These resources look great! I am moving from teaching 5th grade to teaching 1st grade – Yikes!
    Do you think this set of lessons would still work for the little ones

    Thanks so much!

    • Jill & Cathy July 27, 2015, 12:07 am

      Hi Tammy! These lessons were created with primary classrooms in mind. We realize some adaptations may be necessary for the specific needs and levels of first, second and third grades, but we think they can definitely be used in all! Good luck!