In the School District of Fort Atkinson, reading is taught daily for 75 minutes within the instructional format of reader’s workshop.
Daily Structure of Reader’s Workshop
The goal of the mini-lesson is for students to develop the skills of lifelong, self-regulated readers. The teacher plans an appropriate daily mini-lesson that meets the needs of the readers in the classroom by explicitly modeling a strategy or behavior that focuses on a specific goal to make the strategy or thinking of a reader “visible.” After the mini-lesson, the students engage in a guided practice activity so they can apply the skill/strategy that was just taught while reading independently.
The goal of independent reading is to provide time for students to develop self-regulated reading behaviors and view themselves as lifelong readers by reading daily inside and outside of school. Students have the opportunity to self-select their own texts and apply reading strategies they have learned to deepen their comprehension of text. Students also write about their independent reading in their thoughtful log. The goal by the end of 4th grade is that students can read for 40 continuous minutes.
While students engage in independent reading, the teacher conducts one-to-one conferences or teaches small reading groups. Reading conferences help to provide feedback to students and lift students’ application of reading strategies/behaviors to deepen comprehension and fluency. The goal is to promote self-regulation so students can be successful readers when reading independently.
Thoughtful logs are a key tool in the Comprehensive Literacy Model. The thoughtful log is used to bridge together reading and writing instruction. The log consists of five tabbed sections including: My Strategies, My Thoughts, Genre Learning, Author’s Craft, and Powerful Words & Phrases. Each section of the log is intended to help students deepen their understanding of the reading and writing process along with strengthening their comprehension of text.
Tab 1: My Thoughts
This tab allows students the freedom to put their thoughts, connections and questions they are having during their independent reading.
This tab is also where students respond with evidence to teacher provided prompts during Guided Reading and LDG's.
Tab 2: My Strategies
In this tab, students record their learning about modeled comprehension strategies: questioning, making connections, visualizing, inferring, determining importance, and synthesizing.
Tab 3: Genre Learning
In this tab students record characteristics of different genres of reading and writing. In our district, each grade level has a quarterly reading and writing genre. So, in fourth grade in reading, I teach Non-fiction, Biography, Historical Fiction and Legends. In writing, our genres are personal narratives, research/report, biography, and persuasion.
Tab 4: Powerful Words & Phrases
This tab is a great spot to store information from lessons about word choice or other 'delicious language', in addition to lessons about common and proper nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, etc.
Tab 5: Author's Craft
In this tab, we put anything that has to do with the special things authors and writers do to make text and language extra special. Author study information and lessons about figurative language, alliteration, irony, similes and metaphors, personification, etc. all can go in this tab. Students are encouraged to add examples as they find them in their own reading experiences of the different authors' crafts we have learned.
*All students write in their thoughtful logs during reading and writing to demonstrate their learning. Thoughtful logs are turned in and evaluated on a weekly basis to insure that students are demonstrating skills taught. These logs are evidence of a students strengths and weaknesses and also used to determine future instruction for each individual child.
Guided Reading Phases 1 & 2
One guided reading lesson at the fourth grade level takes place over the course of two days. Phase one involves introducing the text, previewing unfamiliar language structures, vocabulary, and features, and assigning a teaching point to work on. Individual conferencing takes place during phase one with each student in the group as well as a full group reflection at the end.
Phase two of guided reading allows the students to collectively gather again as a group, reflect on the text, offer additional reading strategies for getting "unstuck" and what to work on for their next independent text. Lastly, each student will be writing about their reading reflecting on the teaching point from phase one. Research proves that when students write about what they read, a higher level of comprehension is achieved.
Literature Discussion Groups (LDG's)
LDG's are a wonderful way for readers to deepen their level of comprehension on a given text. The purpose behind LDG's is to deepen a students understanding of a group-chosen text. This is accomplished by students flagging their thoughts about focus flags, unknown words or ideas, questions they have encountered during their reading, conferencing with the teacher and sharing their voice and opinion with others during group discussion.