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What Are the Rest of My Kids Doing?

Fostering Independence in the K-2 Reading Workshop

Full of how-to suggestions including lesson plans, assessment tools, student samples, and classroom vignettes, Lindsey and Meridith take the anxiety our of reading workshop with research-based, proven strategies for scaffolding independence for K–2 students.

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Full Description

In her work with teachers around the country, Lindsey Moses hears this common frustration among those who work with our youngest readers:  “During reading workshop, what kinds of meaningful work can students be doing independently, while I confer one-on-one or with small groups?”  Lindsey and First grade teacher Meridith Ogden help you move beyond assigning busy work to providing purposeful learning experiences that build independence over the year.  Their how-to suggestions including lesson plans, assessment tools, student samples, and classroom vignettes show how a traditional workshop approach can be easily adapted to meet the needs of our very young readers. 
Take the anxiety out of reading workshop with Lindsey and Meridith’s research-based, proven strategies for scaffolding independence for K-2 students.

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In Depth

Young Learners and the Reading Workshop

Reading workshop experts and scholars have addressed multiple ways to create a student-centered framework for teaching and learning (Calkins 2010; Moses 2015; Serafini 2001; Serravallo 2010; Taberski 2000). Although they all have slightly different takes on the implementation, schedules, and logistics, there is a general consensus about essential components and learning opportunities. They all agree that on most days children should engage in a brief, teacher-guided lesson (also referred to as a minilesson), independent reading (and/or responding) with choice, small-group opportunities, conferring, and sharing.

We utilize a workshop approach to our instruction, but have adapted it to foster meaningful independence among young readers. We begin by observing young readers to identify additional scaffolds that will deepen their independent learning experiences. The goal is not for students to demonstrate strategies, skills, silent reading,and specific behaviors. Instead, our goal is independence. We follow steps for building stamina in the beginning of the year, but we feel like the students need more. It isn’t as simple as introducing expectations, practicing it for a week, and then expecting students’ independent time to be meaningful. This is why we spend a year on developing independence with young readers and documenting it. Most of the routines, structures, strategies, and learning opportunities have to not only be introduced but revisited to extend and deepen their experiences.

Purposeful Learning Experiences Foster Independence

Lindsey started using the term purposeful learning experiences (PLEs) when referring to what the other kids should be doing. Many schools develop routines to keep students busy or quiet so teachers could confer and run small groups. However, primary teachers in particular worried about the quality and value of what students were doing to keep busy during the bulk of their literacy block. Their reflexivity about this was impressive, and Lindsey suggested they ask themselves if the quiet work had a purpose or enhanced literacy development (not behavior management). She told them to review every center, every routine, every worksheet (hopefully, not many), every response opportunity, and ask themselves, “What purpose does this serve in my students’ literacy development?” If it doesn’t serve a valid purpose, throw it out. To make this shift, we had to identify what PLEs are and what they are not.


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Email if you would like to contact Lindsey Moses directly about professional development support.

Email if you would like to contact Meridith Ogden directly about professional development support.