Thursday, March 11, 2010

About Reader's Workshop: Building a Frame for Reading

In less than two weeks I'll be presenting my first professional development on Reader's Workshop. I'm fighting a bit of an uphill battle with it - I teach gifted and talented, and the upper end of the school, so a lot of people think that whatever I say, won't be applicable to them because they're lower school/learning support/special education etc. Also, there's the fact that Reader's Workshop is not particularly well known in Australia (though there were Australian books published about it a couple of decades ago), making it harder to explain where I'm coming from.

So I've been doing a lot of thinking and reading about Reader's Workshop, and trying to get my thoughts into some sort of presentable shape. I thought I'd try sharing them here first!

Reader's Workshop is a Frame

Reader's Workshop shouldn't be thought of as a program, or a set of unmovable steps, or something you can buy which will solve all your reading problems. Primarily, it's a framework, within which you are free to make alterations, changes, swaps and bends as you see fit.

The frame is a typical rectangle, with four sides - extended time for students to read, a range of books for students to choose from, student response to reading and a workshop structure. When the four sides are 'nailed' together, they hold something pretty powerful - a community of readers.

Why do we want children to be readers?
Students who are good readers
  • ain an understanding of people different to themselves
  • gain knowledge of places different to their places
  • gain an understanding of people who are like them 
  • can always amuse themselves - as long as they are carrying a book
  • can explore history and the future
  • perform better in all aspects of English, as well as better in maths, science and history
  • develop better vocabularies - even if they're not always sure how to pronounce those big words . . .

I'll go into this a bit more next time - in the meantime, please let me know if you have any information on how Reader's Workshop works with early-childhood/learning support/special education students - I need all the evidence I can get!


Reading Countess said...

I would point to the evidence of differentiation for the younger grades. If the goal for teachers is to provide instruction on the individual student's level, then reading workshop is the fit.
Point to personal stories-do THEY like to be told what to read?
Good luck! It sounds like you are prepared! (Don't forget the jewel of a clip from Heinemann interviewing N. Atwell: 15 mins. of gold right there).

A Reader's Community said...

Thanks - we're supposed to have differentiation throughout the school, but a lot of teachers find it difficult - I think RW is such a great way to allow for it.

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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