Launching Reader’s Workshop and Independent Reading

preparing for reader's workshop and independent reading

One thing I know to be true about fourth graders and intermediate students is that there is no ONE thing true about fourth graders and intermediate students. It seems like the longer I teach, the more compelled I am to find ways to group and individualize for students, but I have to admit–it is NOT easy for me. It isn’t that I don’t KNOW who the students are or what to do. It’s that whole “structure” or organization piece for a good reader’s workshop.

Reader’s Workshop Routines

One area where I do feel more confident is establishing a culture for independent reading in my classroom.  I really know how to establish routines and procedures to make my reading time run smoothly so students get the most “bang” for their buck. Students need to be taught HOW to be independent.  It simply isn’t intuitive for all of this.  This is especially true for those strugglers who have received a LOT of interventions–often have some learned helplessness. I spend the first few weeks of school working very hard to teach routines and processes and to get my students more independent and successful with their reader’s workshop time.

I went back to my copy of this book to read a little more about one of the key elements of the CCSS–Standard 10. It is one that is inherently vague and I think it’s easy to gloss over it and say, “I do that.” But do we?

Pathways to the Common Core book

So how can we REALLY teach this standard?

When I went back into the text, it talks about the standards 1 and 10 as being the “sides” of the ladder holding up all of the other standard “rungs”. I kind of like that analogy. We must help students read more complex texts in order to accomplish all that the CCSS (and other sets of standards) wants us to–but it won’t happen without careful scaffolding by us. Let’s be honest…we meet with kids in small groups. We do picture walks. We preteach vocabulary.

WAIT! Maybe WE do too much! After all, we can’t sit next to them and “frontload” their standardized tests, can we? Their work in the upper grades?  Their emails when they have jobs?

So . . . I have been on a quest in recent years to really and deliberately TEACH my students how to be independent workers, thinkers, readers, and problem solvers. I really want them to be reflective about their own needs. They need to know how to seek out help when they need it.  Similarly, I want them to pick “just right” books and know when they are not making good book choices. I want them to set goals and reflect on them. They need to study their own behaviors and work to make changes.

Independent reading lessons

Help for Reader’s Workshop!

I think it’s why I love doing reading logs and status of the class so much–they help students be reflective on what they are doing. We’ve all had the students who wanted to read Harry Potter and weren’t ready…and we’ve all had those who are reading Magic Treehouse. Only Magic Treehouse. Again. We need to be deliberate in how we help those kiddos make their book choices.
reading anchor charts
Some things we need to take into consideration:
  • Are we organizing our beginning of the year minilessons to focus on these critical lessons?
  • Do we have visual displays and anchor charts that we create with students?  Do we refer BACK to them as we teach and guide?
  • Are there systems we can put in place to monitor what and how students are reading?
  • Do we set goals for and with our students?
  • Do we find ways to show students HOW to preview and select books?
  • Is our own enthusiasm for reading evident?
  • Are we helping students “see” what independent reading should look like–and why it is so important?

I’ve taken some of these critical concepts and put them together in a little package. You might find this helpful if you feel you want to change up how you “launch” your independent reading for the year. There are TONS of amazing resources out there–but I know what has worked for me and I have finally put it all together. I hope you like it!

It has suggested lessons and anchor charts, surveys, checklists, goal sheets, reading stamina ideas, writng prompts, and so more.  Just click the image below to check it out.
Reader's workshop lessons and activities
Reader's workshop activities and lessons

I find it so helpful to get students to really understand what good readers do. I hope you think that helping them become independent will help give YOU more time to teach, confer, and more!

Want to learn more about independent reading?

Check out this post about taking “status of the class”!

Or check out this one to learn more about helping students learn those great reading behaviors!

Thanks for stopping by!