If you are new to reading workshop or just on the lookout for new resources, we have created a guide to help you get started.
We often receive questions from new teachers or teachers who are looking at testing out a workshop approach in their classroom. We have a variety of resources to help with this but if you are new to reading workshop, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. For this reason, we have put together this guide to help you get started. We have included links to the coordinating resources on our site (all free) when appropriate.
Click on the blue text to be taken to each free resource.
What is Reader’s Workshop?
First of all, it is important to know what reading workshop is. Below is a short description of what workshop looks like in many classrooms, keep in mind that time frames can vary a bit and that some days things may look a bit different depending on the focus.
- Reading Mini-Lesson – A true reading workshop begins with a 5 to 15 minute mini-lesson that focuses on a specific concept or skill. Many times this includes some type of read aloud. 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.
- Independent Reading and Teacher Conferencing – 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. This can be something as simple as placing post-its in their books to illustrate the lesson that was taught, or it can be as directed as a graphic organizer for students to fill out. As students read independently and respond to their reading in very specific ways, the teacher conferences with individual students. (You will find conferencing forms in our reading management binder – link below.)
- Lesson Wrap-Up – At the conclusion of independent reading, the class returns to a meeting spot to review the lesson and discuss what students did to practice a new skill on their own.
- Literacy Centers – In our classrooms, we then immediately follow Reader’s Workshop with our Literacy Centers to finish out our Language Arts block of time. This is the time where students can complete Word Work, Vocabulary & Comprehension Building Activities or other reading skills practice. It is also the time that we meet with our small leveled guided reading groups.
Now that you have an idea what your reading block will look like, it is time to think organization. We have a collection of binders that fit well into a workshop approach.
Organization for the Teacher
Reading Management Binder This binder contains an assortment of planning forms to be used in your reading workshop along with forms to track classroom data. You will also find an assortment of reading conferencing forms. Our Reading Conference Guide is a good addition to the conference forms you will find within the binder.
Part of an effective reading workshop is tracking student growth, ideally having students involved in the process. Our Editable Student Data Binder can help with this.
If you are looking to implement a Reader’s Notebook, this post contains growth tracking, goal setting and a variety of response pages.
It feels like the first week back to school is always filled with assessment after assessment as you start to get to know your students. One assessment we like to include (depending on your grade level and students) is a Fry Word check. We use these Fry Word Progress Lists to track growth. If you aren’t sure what to do with the information you have gathered, this quick video on Creating Fry Word Stacks might be helpful. Additional Fry Word activities are available within our Fry Resource Collection.
Getting your students reading for your reading workshop requires a focus on teaching classroom procedures and expectations. Our Launching Reading Workshop Unit of Study is a good place to start. It includes mini-lessons, anchor charts, graphic organizers and other resources that will be needed to get your workshop going.
One of the challenges teachers often face when beginning their workshop is how to wisely use small group instruction time with your students. We have created a Small Group Toolkit that is designed all you need to get effective instruction time started. Included are resources for fluency practice, word work, comprehension and more.
In upper grades, you may be looking to try Literature Circles. This post contains resources planning pages for you, anchor charts and printable pages for students.
We have a large collection of graphic organizers designed to meet standards for each grade level and area of focus in reading:
Reading Units of Study
Other complete reading units of study that are written to fit into a workshop approach can be found below:
Responding to Reading: Helping children construct short answer responses
Close Reading Collection (text structures, thick & thin questions, making connections, THIEVES plus additional resources)
If you would prefer a collection of anchor charts to put together your own mini-lessons, we also have a Reading Anchor Chart Collection.