Studying and Thinking about Powerful Whole Group Instruction: Minilessons, Shared Reading, & Read Aloud K-3
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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.
Hooray! It’s shared reading time! Shared reading is often one of the most celebrated—and celebratory—times in the school day. In Chapter 12 of A Guide to the Reading Workshop, Primary Grades, Lucy Calkins writes, “To imagine shared reading, think of the times when you’ve attended the concert of a favorite singer. The star performer picks up the mic and takes the lead in a hit song. The audience sings along, and whenever the performer pauses in the song, the crowd fills in the lyrics. The crowd’s engagement is high, and their voices come together to almost overpower the lead singer” (p. 135).