for Language Arts
Reader's Workshop From Day 1
As a first grade teacher, I started reader's workshop on day one, but slowly. Our openings and shared work took longer early on, and the time spent actually doing the work of workshop (reading!!!) that followed the mini lessons began slowly. The initial mini lessons with a new group (I looped, this was generally not needed at the top of a loop) centered around what readers do in reading workshop, one element introduced, modeled and added to a list in terms of accountability each day. At first, I asked for ten minutes of real reading and we gradually (or not so gradually) upped the expectations until the kids could remain focused and on task for about 40 minutes. From day one, my conference table groups (a separate thing from guided reading) met daily. All that meant was that I met with a divergent, mixed-ability group for twenty minutes. During that time I conducted conferences. My first series of conferences always centered on readerly life. I interviewed kids and spent time talking with them about their passions (sharks, insects, a certain series, etc.) and spent time showing them where in the classroom they could find fuel for these passions. Sometimes these interviews cost me money--the first year I had shark lovers I was so blessed to be able to run to my administrator and beg for money there and then to purchase a large amount of ocean and shark related nonfiction. I had two reluctant readers that year that had been the subject of much concern previously and having identified that passion, knew how to turn them on to reading.
- How to treat a book (tenderly,
with reverence, as a treasure--yes, I modeled it, by sharing
a book I own called Aunt Jo's Scrapbag--a very early title by
Louisa May Alcott, a collection of pretty poor short stories