In A Guide to the Reading Workshop, Lucy Calkins writes, “Your classroom library holds a lot of power. It sends a strong message to the readers in your classroom, and it should convey that reading is important and that books are to be celebrated, treasured, and enjoyed.”
Lucy outlines critical tips for organizing classroom libraries, including:
In Kindergarten and sometimes even in Pre-K, teachers in reading workshop classrooms give several assessments so they can understand what children know about how reading goes (These are available free on The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project website.) They include:
Starting at even the youngest ages, students are well aware of social issues. Even before they begin school, they know what is fair and unfair, what it means to take care of each other, and what it means to behave in ways that aren’t socially accepted. Through the elementary school years, students begin to understand the power of social groups as they feel the effects of bullying and cliques.
In middle school and high school, students begin to care about social issues that exist outside of their school and home environments. Poverty, race, gender, and class become topics of conversation. Students also begin to understand that they can take a stand on issues and that their voices matter.
“I think that many teachers have been subjected to intensive efforts to remake their small-group instruction so that it is 'just so.' There have been so many books written on how to lead small groups in precisely the right ways that too many teachers approach a little hub of readers, gripped by anxiety over doing this The Right Way. Meanwhile, the whole point is to be personal, be responsive, and to channel kids to do some work while you observe and coach.”
– Lucy Calkins, in A Guide to the Reading Workshop
Studying and Thinking about Powerful Whole Group Instruction: Minilessons, Shared Reading, & Read Aloud K-3
See below for a full transcript of the chat
Written by Anna Gratz Cockerille
One power of reading workshop is the way in which instruction can move seamlessly from whole-group, to small-group, to individual and back again in the span of a class period. Certainly, a reading teacher’s best chance of really moving kids further in their understanding is while working with small groups and individuals, where instruction can be differentiated to meet the needs of the each student. It is not as possible to meet every student’s needs during whole-group instruction. Inevitably, there will be students who are beyond or not quite at the level of whole-group lessons. But these lessons serve a very important purpose, nonetheless. They serve to rally students’ energy around a single, worthy cause. They serve to create classroom community-wide goals for reading and common language to talk about these goals. They serve to get students jazzed up about a new line of thinking, or a new trajectory in their path of work.
When they are motivated, children naturally engage in deep reflection and goal-setting. An example is when they are trying to get better at their favorite sport or video game. They understand exactly where they rank compared to other players. They study other players carefully, trying to emulate their moves. They take in what coaches say, they make small tweaks to improve. They practice, practice, practice. With the right conversations and the right tools, we can teach students to approach their writing with the same level of reflection and goal-setting.