Thanks to some wonderful resources (The CAFE Book, Notebook Connections, and Reading in the Wild), and ultimately inspired by Donalyn Miller‘s life-altering The Book Whisperer and some amazing colleagues, I have outlined a plan for this year’s Readers Workshop. Key components:
1. Reading Notebooks, where students will record books and genres read, books for future reading, goals, strategies, reading notes, interesting words, and drafts of blog posts.
2. A Pensieve (teacher’s notebook – name borrowed from The CAFE Book and Albus Dumbledore) for recording assessments, student conferences, and strategy group work.
3. A rough idea of what our workshop will look like, with time for read aloud, whole class mini-lessons, individual conferences, strategy groups, and lots of independent reading, note taking, research, and writing and talking about books. I’ll introduce these gradually so students are clear about their options during Reading Workshop.
4. A different approach to student Book Clubs. I love reading books with friends. I get more out of the books and enjoy the social interaction with like-minded readers. Kids do too, especially when they have the freedom to choose which books to read and when to meet… just like adult book clubs. In the past, I have run formal Book Clubs, where each student rated the available books according to interest, and I grouped them as best I could. Last year I allowed small groups to meet informally during independent reading time. I simply limited the number of students to the number of chairs in the area. The meeting area was as far away as possible from the classroom library and most student desks, so as to cause minimum disruption for those who needed a quiet reading environment. Students appreciated being able to talk to each other about their reading. This year, I plan a hybrid model. I intend to set up a meeting area with Book Club sign-up sheets and a calendar on the wall where students can schedule meetings to talk about books they choose to read together. I think sign-ups and advance scheduling will allow more students access to the meeting area and (I hope) encourage students to connect with each other and build a community of readers.
On Monday I made another giant leap toward accepting the end of summer: I purchased school supplies! Yay! Composition books, spiral notebooks, and folders excite me more than they probably should, but such is the life of a teacher. Admit it, you love this stuff too. I also bought a new travel mug BECAUSE COFFEE. Yeah, even though I drink decaf, I somehow need it.
While I’m sure we could all use several more weeks of summer, I am beginning to really look forward to the first day of school. Allons-y!