Thursday, May 13, 2010

About Reader's Workshop: Balancing the Elements

I've been obsessed with ballet for as long as I can remember. Throughout my school years I took lessons, moving through into fairly high levels. When I finished school, I taught ballet for ten years. Then when I was finished with that, I took up adult ballet classes.

They really are a blast. The regular teacher, a former ballet dancer, puts together fabulous exercises, and works us pretty hard, but there's a lot of focus on making it lyrical and beautiful and really dancing it. We work hard and we laugh a lot.

Last night we had a guest teacher, also a former dancer. His class was fantastic and technical. It encouraged lots of delicate footwork, making us work those basic we started learning when we were five or six years old. Despite my sore feet this morning, it was amazing. But I don't think I could manage it every week - once every now and again is just fine!

This morning I was thinking about it, and I realised how well it correlates with Reader's Workshop. We focus on the technical, those skills which made us readers, and will make us better readers in small doses. Then we get to move to the lyrical - the reading - the stuff that makes your heart sing. When we focus too much on the technical, we get bogged down in instructions and corrections and never get to really move. When we focus entirely on the lyrical, we never really get better. It's all about finding the balance.

That photo is me dancing my first ballet solo in our school christmas concert - I was the sugar plum fairy . . .


BookChook said...

So many of the lessons I learn (and unfortunately sometime re-learn) are about balance. I wish we could find that balance in curricula too. So often They seem to focus on pragmatic outcomes, which is good, but forget intangibles like teaching kids to love reading, to appreciate lyricism, to have fun with words.

Your students are lucky to have Reader's Workshop!

A Reader's Community said...

It sometimes feels strange looking for all the 'proper' reasons that Reader's Workshop is good, when you could simply say - it makes kids read, and they enjoy it. I'm not sure why that isn't seen as enough.

There's a teacher at school who's a history nut like me, and we were talking about the new national curriculum and how 'the story' of history kept getting removed, when it's the stories that get people interested in history :)

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.

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