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Reader’s Workshop: A Model for Reading Instruction

By Katharine Fowle
Reader’s Workshop: A Model for Reading Instruction

As a teacher, it is sometimes hard to balance what is most important and how to teach the skills and concepts students need to advance. Therefore, in literacy, it is important to use a balanced approach that emphasizes reader’s workshop, writer’s workshop, and word study. These three domains allow teachers to differentiate and assess students within their zone of proximal development.
This article will focus on reader’s workshop, as developed by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell (2001). Reader’s workshop is an extended period of time each day where students participate in authentic reading experiences, which target skills and strategies students need to develop as readers.
The workshop is divided into a mini lesson (10-15 minutes), workshop time (30-40 minutes), and share time (five-10 minutes).
Mini lesson
During a mini lesson, the teacher introduces a skill or strategy students need to become more effective readers. The teacher uses formative assessments as well as the school’s language scope and sequence to decide what to teach.
For example, the teacher might focus on inference. To model this strategy, the teacher uses an interactive read-aloud where she shares her thinking, aloud to students, as she reads. By doing this, students can see how the teacher becomes aware of her thinking. After modeling this strategy, the teacher then asks her students to practice it in their independent reading book during workshop time.
Workshop time
During workshop time, students engage in independent reading or guided reading sessions. Independent reading is a time where students self-select a “just-right” book that is at their independent reading level. Students use this book to practice the skill or strategy that was introduced during the mini lesson. To keep students accountable and to monitor their progress, each student records their thinking on sticky notes or a graphic organizer, which they will later place in their reading response journal.
While some students are independently reading, the teacher calls guided reading groups. Guided reading is differentiated time in which the teacher selects a book just above the group’s independent reading level. The teacher then works on the skills these students need to develop to their next reading level.
The teacher determines what these skills should be from student running records or other conclusions made during developmental reading assessments.
By the end of workshop time, students have either met with the teacher in a guided reading group or have practiced the skill or strategy that was modeled during the mini lesson.
Share time
At the conclusion of reader’s workshop, the teacher leaves time for a group share. Students then have a chance to explain how they applied the mini lesson strategy to their reading, or any other thinking they have done while reading. The share time gives the teacher an opportunity to assess how students applied the mini lesson strategy as well as other thinking students are doing as readers.
In conclusion, using a reader’s workshop model for reading instruction allows teachers to differentiate instruction in order to reach all students where they are at. It also encourages students to see themselves as readers, and builds a community that values good literature and thinking.
Ms. Fowle is a Grade 5 teacher at the International School of Ulaanbaatar.
Fountas, I. C. & Pinnell, G. S. (2001) Guiding Readers and Writers (Grades 3-6): Teaching, Comprehension, Genre and Content Literacy. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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08/16/2017 - Tan
This was an excellent, concise article that clearly spells out the Reading workshop process.

I am a Reading coach and plan to use this article to review the steps of the workshop with our faculty.

Thanks so much!

Tania Toomer



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