Sarah Parker reflects about learning, reading and writing.
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Reading Workshop 2011
My friend and colleague Amy Croel Perrien is teaching a graduate class at Grand Valley. I promised her I would start writing about Teaching Reading Workshop on my blog. It gives me a reason to write. So here it goes. A little background - I have been teaching for 16 years in first and second grade classrooms. Marie Clay, Margaret Mooney,Regie Routman, Dick Allington, Debbie Miller and Lucy Calkins have all been my teaching reading mentors for the last 20 years. (I am such a teaching geek, I was reading their work in college.) So the reading workshop approach is something that has been in my lexicon for a while. Have I been teaching it that long? Heck no! Not well anyway. I started my teaching career teaching using basal readers during instructional time in combination with some children's literature. In the early days I didn't have much of a library or even multiple copies of text. So that was a big obstacle. I made an effort to get a library collection in my room with at least 30 new titles each month. But, I still needed those basal readers just to have some text for those kiddos to read from.
For a long time, I used my read aloud time for comprehension minilessons. While my basal was used for both comprehension and phonics. Fluency at that time was called reading with expression, and vocabulary was usually unique to each story, but the same for all children. It was still very "one size fits all." Going from teaching second grade to teaching first grade was really what forced me to look more closely at the possibility of children needing many different levels of text.
Sharon Taberski's book On Solid Ground helped me see what a classroom might look like with many readers reading many different books. She also introduced me to a management system that allowed me to meet with each individual reader. This was the beginning of reading workshop for me. Over the next 5 to 6 years I worked to develop more reading in small groups and meeting with individuals over the whole class, all-together, all-the-time method. Most of my whole group instruction in reading was within a content area like social studies or science because the non-fiction text structure was used more in the content areas. Then I started integrating some social studies and science into my reading block and I went back to the whole class to ensure kids weren't missing content. Then I did both content instruction and reading workshop separately. Now, I was teaching reading all day long with different presentation structures. Reader's Workshop melded into a combination of SSR (sustained silent reading) and reading minilessons with word study (spelling, phonics, phonemic awareness, grammar) in it's own time slot. Then came the Daily Five by the Sisters, Joan Moser and Gail Boushey. Following that came The Daily Cafe. Finally, I came back to Lucy again with Writer's Workshop written as a curriculum with much more explicit instruction for management and strategy talk.
All of these parts of my reading teaching journey have helped me to keep an open mind as a life long learner. There is always more to learn. . .