Wednesday, February 10, 2010

About Reader's Workshop: I know they're reading because we talk about it

I was blogging on the weekend about how I was just realising how important talk was in the Reader's Workshop classroom. There are so many ways in which talk is important, including promoting books and reading to others and creating a community. But talk is also a great way of knowing that the kids are reading. When a student's eyes light up when they talk about the book, you know they've got it. When they start talking about the characters like they are real, you know they've got it.

There are three main types of talk in my classroom at the moment, and I'm looking to add another in later this week: Formal conferring, informal chat, book talks and (to be added) reading buddies.

Formal conferring
I'm calling it formal conferring, but there's not too much that's formal about it, when you're sitting on the floor, desperately trying to reach the child sitting under a desk! Last year when I started conferring with students, I really didn't know what to ask them. Now,I'm beginning to connect mini-lessons and other ideas to their reading and it's going much better. I also record what page they're up to, which gives me a pretty good idea about whether they read at home. I record info on the st. and what they say on mini sticky labels (mailing labels), stamp them with the date and photo copy them. The photocopy gives me a class overview (is there anything a lot of them have in common) and the sticky labels get stuck on the child's individual page - I then make notes to show that they've met key aspects.

I have learned so much about conferring from Patrick A Allen's Conferring: The Keystone of Reader's Workshop and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to improve/think about/consider conferring in any situation.

Informal Chat
Yesterday I walked with one of my students to my afterschool duty. We talked about Percy Jackson (she's reading it, I loved it, we can't wait to see the movie. ) and how she hopes another student finished Dork Diaries soon so she can read it. We talked about Sarah Dessen books and she told me she was unsure if she'd like them,because she wasn't really into girly books. No formal questions, no writing anything down. Just a conversation between two people about books. We have so many of these conversations - when the students come in in the morning, at the library, as they leave for the day. I end up learning about the students - helping me purchase better books and recommend the right ones (also chats with parents can get the same results).

Book Talk
We're just starting to get back into these. Students sign up to do a book talk. They give a short summary, talk about the best thing about the books, recommend it to others in the class. Straight up I realise if they've really understood the book, further options for them, and what they understand about the reading habits of other readers.

Reading Buddies
I got this idea from the lovely Reading Countess about having students partner off and stay with their buddy throughout the year. I'm waiting for my class to settle down later this week, to begin it, but I can see so many possibilities in it - including for some peer assessment. I'll let you know how it goes!

Read the post that started these thoughts here
Read more about Reader's Workshop here


A Reader's Community

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Queensland, Australia
A Reader's Community is a place to find ideas, information, resources and recommendations about Reader's Workshop.

This Blog has five main types of posts.

About Reader's Workshop - information about Reader's Workshop in my classroom and how it works

Reader's Workshop Tools - resources you can access and use to help you with reader's workshop

Book talks - Book recommendations of two or three books centred around a particular theme

Book letters - in-depth reviews of one particular book

Reader's Workshop Links - Short links lists to help you find more information
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