In an effort to better meet the varying needs of our students, teachers of the lower team bring students for our Pre K-5 reading workshop twice a week. This allows lower school teachers to work in conjunction with one another and to better meet the needs of all students.
Each element of the reading workshop (Focus Units, Book Studies, Guided Reading, Word Study, Sight Words, Independent/Buddy Reading/listening to audiobook) is introduced consecutively, with the goal of creating a workshop model where students work in a varying configurations: independently, with a partner, or in a small cooperative groups. These learning situations are student-directed, teacher facilitated, or teacher directed.
Writing skills allow creative expression
The students in Self Directed Reading Workshop began their new session by continuing to work on their individual word study activities. Students continue to begin word studies, move through the word study process, and complete a study before moving onto their next one. As the students are working, the teacher is checking in with individual students and monitoring his or her progress and understanding. Through questioning and reviewing students’ Word Study Folders, the teacher is able to assure that the students are understanding and retaining knowledge gained from previous and current word studies.Students use their Word Rings and practice their sight words.
Using a variety of sources, the teacher and student identify words to be placed on a word ring to be studied and mastered. Each student’s word ring is different and is based on his or her reading and spelling ability. However, the process is the same throughout. Through a process of physical, verbal and mental activities, the students go through a series of questions regarding the spelling of each word. The steps include reading the word that appears on a notecard the student has created, answering questions about letter order, writing the word in the air, and spelling the word without looking.
Once the student can do this successfully, the word is removed and replaced with a new word. During Work Time classes students often have research questions they need to answer. Students bringing their books and articles to class to read in search of answers. The teacher helps each child locate pertinent information by encouraging the child to use the book’s index, to look at bold print and paragraph titles, and to use pictures to locate information of importance.
The students are also taught to use post-it notes and highlighters to mark points of interest in the text. Students have spent time reading and looking closely at the picture book A Chair for my Mother, by Vera B. Williams. This is a beautifully illustrated story about a young girl, her mother, and her grandmother, who lost their home to a fire and faced the challenge of rebuilding their lives. The pictures in the story tell as much of the tale as does the wonderful text.
Reading builds other essential skills
The students were each given a copy of the book to look at so that they could fully appreciate the details in the illustrations. As the teacher read the story, they used post-it notes to mark illustrations and details to discuss later.
The children shared insightful comments and made connections to other events and stories in their lives. When looking at the illustrations, they were perceptive in what they saw, noticing details that showed the progression of time, or important points in the text.
The students continue to read books, both independently and with a partner. They enjoy the opportunity to become engaged in stories and to spend blocks of time reading. They choose books that are of interest to them and that are appropriate for their reading level.
In West 2 , students also continue to use Reading Workshop to edit their NaNoWriMo novels. Students in South 1 use this time to write in their Writer’s Notebook. Students also participate in focused reading groups. One group has considered Eric Carle’s work, by reviewing a variety of his books with an eye toward his words and his illustrations. At the introduction of this focus unit, students were asked if the words, illustrations, or both together are important to understanding his books. They were introduced to the book The Grouchy Ladybug by Carle.
To better understand this story they participated in a picture walk. This allowed the students to look at the illustrations in the book and to develop a sense of plot without reading the words. The students were then read the book while following along with the illustrations. At the end of the book, the children filled in a chart which indicated the headings; book title, main characters, emotions/characteristics/conflict, and how the character(s) overcame the emotions/characteristics/conflict.
The following day, the students recreated one of the pieces of art in the book and added their own twist in design. The same procedure was used while reading other books in this focus unit including, The Mixed-Up Chameleon, The Very Busy Spider, and The Foolish Tortoise. At the end of the session, the students displayed their knowledge of Eric Carle by creating an art gallery which featured their works of art. Over time, the students developed the common opinion that both words and illustrations are key features that make Eric Carle’s books so entertaining.
Voyagers’ Community School 215 Broad Street Eatontown, NJ 07724
Proud to be MSA Accredited