I love Reader's Workshop. It is my favorite time of the day! After Michele and I published our first units, we were excited to see that so many other teachers loved Reader's Workshop, too. This post answers some of the most common questions we get about the first 3 units. After "meeting" unit 4, we will answer those questions below.
Michele and I are excited to have completed Unit 4-Discovering Patterns for Reader’s Workshop. This unit took quite a bit longer to do than the others. You might wonder why! Well first of all, school started! Those summer days of working on projects came to a stop as we got ready for the busy school year. Secondly, this unit was much harder to narrow down. As we began looking through our books, we discovered there were more patterns than we could ever cover in one month of mini lessons. So here’s our thinking: It’s not about learning a pattern. It’s about being able to identify that there is a pattern and then use that to be a better reader. I read somewhere, “It’s not about reading that book, it’s about learning what good readers do while reading that book.” We are teaching kiddos to be readers. What we do should not only be about that book, but should impact them as a reader.
Now…I know many of you have sent me comments and emails about the first three units. This week I got an email that had quite a few questions. Since it was going to take quite some time to answer the questions, I decided to do it as a blog post. That way, if you have the same questions, it will help you, too.
Unit 1 1. When do you typically begin in a kindergarten class? We begin on a Wednesday this year? Would you start on Thursday or wait till Monday? This is really up to you! In Megan’s room we started on the 2nd day of school. The first day we were just trying to get them to school, get them fed, and get them home! Oh, and have a little fun, too!
2. In regards to elbow partners- you say to assign them- do they stay the same everyday- so those children are 'assigned' to sit by each other or does it change day to day depending on who they are sitting next to?
I assign my children a spot on the carpet to sit. We sit in three rows. I want those students who are going to need my help right on the front row. Plus, I want to be sure that certain children aren’t sitting beside each other. Know what I mean? Sometimes I have to move children to another spot on the carpet for one reason or another. Their elbow partner is whoever is sitting right next to them on the carpet. The only reason their elbow partner would change is if I moved them to another space on the carpet.
3. When you refer to reading books for concepts about print (l-r, t-b, etc) do you typically read just the pages facing the children, read the whole book, use a book you've already read or it doesn't matter bc skill is CAPs?
Michele and I have tried to not name particular books that have to be used except for familiar tales that we think nearly everyone will have access to. So any book usually works. For CAP, you would want a big book with a limited amount of text. I would say to read the whole book before the reader’s workshop time. Then, when you call them to the carpet for Reader’s Workshop, they have already enjoyed the book and are ready to focus on the concept you are trying to teach.
4. For baskets/tubs of books- should they be 'trade' books, leveled readers (PreA, A) a mix, doesn't matter?
At the beginning, music books, nursery rhyme books, familiar tales, and such work great. These help the children to feel like real readers. As you children move through the year, their bag of books will have a variety of books—some that are on their reading level and some that they just love and tell the story as they look at the pictures.
5. When distributing same copy of familiar reads- is a photocopy/b&w book OK or should it be a colored/bound copy?
Your decision, but I use only bound copies. Not everyone will have the same books. I collect all that I can find from my own collection and the library.
6. For the anchor chart- 3 ways to read- in your lesson you indicate to teach use picture, tell a story and then read words but the anchor chart copy to put in student notebooks doesn't read that way- it has tell a story first. Does it matter which way you do it or should i use the anchor chart i create with the kids as my reference for their anchor chart notebook.
Oops! Not sure I totally understand. The student notebook chart is a picture of the anchor chart. I will have to go take a closer look.
7. How do your units of study align with Lucy Calkins units? We were given her units of study to follow but she has 10 units. I know you are coming out with Unit 4 soon- will there be more on the way?
We will have 9 units when we are done. We are following the scope and sequence provided by Michele’s district. All of the lessons, etc are our own work, but we are using their outline as a guide for the unit theme. I think they actually used the Lucy Caulkins units as an outline.
8. I have used 'reading fingers' in the past (like the Halloween witch fingers but not as 'creepy' and come in assorted colors)- just wanted to let you know you can buy them in bulk through Oriental trading if you want to indicate that in your future publications!
I love it!
Unit 2 1. Elbow partner- same as Unit 1's partner, switch partner, who sitting next to? see above
3. Do you actually say 'EEKK' or the whole thing
I say it both ways.
5. For retelling- do you do all the components during rw and an indep read/share? Seems like it would take way too long for the allotted time for RW.
At the beginning of the year, Reader’s Workshop will be very short. You will have time left over when Reader’s Workshop is over. So, you can use that time to do the “activities”. Then, during Reader’s Workshop you can use the projects during the active engagement part of the lesson. Later in the year, when your reader’s workshop is longer, some of the “make it” activities can be made as a center, etc and then used in reader’s workshop during active engagement. UUnit 3 1. Do you continue to have the stickys you taught about in Unit 2 available and encourage to use or just have them focus on characters?
The stickys will stay in the folder all year to encourage kids to talk about books.
2. Do you start to have them pick indep readers with sight words at this point so they can be used well in conjunction with what you are teaching in the mini lessson? Or continue to allow them to shop for whatever interests them?
They will have both kinds of books in their bags.
How many units are you planning on making- i ask this just because if each unit is about a month, 4 units would be about 4 months of material- leaving 6 months with no 'guide'.
We will have 9 units, enough for the whole school year.
Do you pull g.r. groups during your rw time? If so when do you begin that? For about how long? Do you also do centers outside your rw time and pull groups?
We start pulling groups when the kiddos have a stamia for independent reading of about 20 minutes. Then, we can pull one group during that time. Be sure that you are also spending time walking around and making sure that your children are actively engaged in the reading process. I do pull groups during centers, too.
Now, there are still 3 questions she asked that aren’t in this post. I will handle those tomorrow. Need to do a little checking on them. You can see any of these units on tpt by clicking on the cover of the units.
Kim is a retired kindergarten teacher! She taught kindergarten for 30 years and now works as a national presenter. Now that she is retired, she spends her time volunteering in Megan's room. When she isn't working at Megan's school, she loves to garden and spend time with her family. She and Andy, her husband, have two children, Megan, who is married to Nick, and Tyler, who is married to Ginny. They also have a beagle named KT Ann. Megan followed in her mom's footsteps and is also a kindergarten teacher. She loves building relationships with her kiddos and their families. When she isn't teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family. She is married to Nick. They enjoy all the GA sports teams! She and Nick have a miniature dachshund named Lily Grace.
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