Monday, October 1, 2012

Building on the Foundation, Part I

We're into our sixth week of school already, and I'm working on planning how to "launch" the next phase of reading workshop in my classroom.

In the first five weeks so far, it's been all about setting up reading and writing workshop in the classroom.  We've discussed routines galore.  We've had many discussions about what good readers do and how they act.

To summarize some of our class thinking thus far in Reading Workshop, I thought I'd post some pictures of our reading workshop anchor charts in order to share some workshop "foundations" for the school year.  Anchor charts are nothing new, certainly, and many teachers find the value in using them to capture student thinking and important teaching points about a variety of reading and writing routines.  

I've had teachers ask me about reusing anchor charts from year to year.  I always re-create anchor charts with students each year.  I feel it's very important to use student thinking in creating the anchor charts.  Nearly all of the writing on these anchor charts has come from student responses.  This way, students have true ownership of the learning and thinking that we've collected on these charts, and they are therefore more inclined to refer back to them as the year progresses.  After all, that is why we create these charts in the first place--to refer to and build a strong reading experience for our students.  

Ways We Choose Books
There are two anchor charts here.  The top chart is a brainstorm on the first day of school where I gathered students' thinking about the all-important question, "Why Do We Read?"  The anchor chart underneath is one we completed together several days later, entitled, "Ways We Choose Books."  This chart was inspired by Pinnell and Fountas, in their book Guiding Readers and Writers.

The anchor chart on the top of this picture captures our thinking about Reading Workshop Guidelines.  These guidelines were inspired also from Pinnell and Fountas's thinking about workshop guidelines.  The anchor chart on the bottom was from a mini lesson describing the Genre Requirements for students to read 30 books.  The "30 Book Goal" was inspired by Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer.  I love having kids set this goal, and I am so excited each year to help guide students in meeting their book goal to further their growth as readers.  Students will work toward a goal such as this, and they respond well to teachers with high expectations.

In this top anchor chart, I wanted to gather students' thoughts about what they thought good readers did on a regular basis.  This group thinking will help us to set goals and work toward behaviors that strengthen us as readers.  They brainstormed many thoughtful ideas, many of which are ones we will reinforce throughout the year.  The bottom anchor chart gives kids an understanding of their ultimate goal during independent reading time, which is to truly be in "the reading zone."  Thanks to Nancie Atwell for "coining" this term.  I love helping my kids become aware of identifying what it truly means to be in the "reading zone," and I look forward to guiding them more and more each day to becoming better and better readers.

Those are just a few of the charts on our Reading Workshop wall.  I am thrilled each day to be able to engage in conversations with my students about the books they are reading.   Though the "foundation" is overall solid, we have much more to build upon within our workshop this year, and still many more "layers" of "mortar" to place, so to speak, in order for all of the reading workshop elements to truly come together.

I'll be sharing more soon about our reading workshop anchor charts and will reflect more on how these mini lessons are a critical part of students' reading instruction for the remainder of the year.

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