Reading Workshop

  • Reading Workshop

    The Comprehensive Literacy Model


    Linda Dorn's Comprehensive Literacy Model for Instruction was developed and implemented with success in Arkansas. Since her development of this model, she has been coaching school districts around the country on how to effectively reinvent literacy instruction in order to better fit the needs of all diverse learners. The school district of Fort Atkinson has recently adopted this model of literacy instruction and is in the process of a 5 year literacy revamping system in our school. There are two teachers per elementary school that are given a highly trained and resourceful reading coach to help implement the Comprehensive Literacy Model of Instruction. The strong basis and root of this model entails that there is a strong link between reading and writing and it is further deepened when students are able to write meaningful thoughtful responses to their reading. Key learning components to Linda's model are as follows: learning occurs by interpreting information; we learn only as we actively participate in the learning process, people of all ages learn with more depth and understanding when they are able to share ideas with others, think together, consider alternative points of view, and broaden their own perspectives. I had the fortunate opportunity of having a literacy coach during the 2010-2011 school year. Because of this, I look forward to being a teacher leader in the area of literacy and look forward to having colleagues visit our classroom to learn different techniques and strategies used with our new model.


    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.


    Independent Reading

    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 5th grade is that students can read for 60 continuous minutes.


    Reading Conferences

    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                        

     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 Strategies

    In this tab, students store learning about the comprehension strategies: questioning, making connections, visualizing, inferring, determining importance, and synthesizing.


    Tab 2: 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 taught to add examples as they find them in their own reading experiences of the different authors' crafts we have learned. It doesn't matter if we learned about alliteration 4 months ago, students know that if they find an example during independent reading, they should write it down on that page in their Thoughtful Logs so they can show their teacher that they can identify those crafts independently in text.


    Tab 3: Powerful Words & Phrases

     Learning from lessons that discuss any kind of powerful words and/or phrases can go in this tab. This 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. Sometimes I will even have kids open to their Powerful Words & Phrases section and have them record any words they hear me read from our text that they consider powerful. We share out at the end of the book, or turn and talk to a neighbor and record/add 2 words to their page that a partner has written.


    Tab 4: Genre Learning

     In this tab we store any learning about different genres of reading and writing. In our district, each grade level has a quarterly reading genre and writing genre. So, in fifth grade in reading, I teach autobiography, historical fiction, realistic fiction, and drama. In writing, our genres are personal narratives, research/report, biography, and persuasion. All of our learning and thinking about the reading and writing genres goes in the Genre Learning tab.


    Tab 5: My Thoughts

     This final tab kind of allows you the freedom to put 'anything else' that may not fit in another tab. Obviously, if students ever needed to write a response about what they thought about something (in guided reading or during any other time), it could go in this tab.


    *All students will be required to write in their thoughtful logs during reading and writing once every ten days. These thoughtful logs will be turned in on an assigned day for each student. I will then be able to see student strengths and weaknesses and also to determine future instruction for each individual child.


    Guided Reading Phases 1 & 2

    Phase 1:

    One guided reading lesson at the fifth 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 2:

    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 reached. 

    Literature Discussion Groups (LDG's)

    LDG's are a wonderful way for proficient or advanced students to deepen their level of comprehension on a given text. The purpose behind LDG's is to make students accountable by completing work based on group decision making, sharing their voice and opinion with others during discussion, and achieving a high level of critical thinking skills with flagging of thoughts during reading. The structure behind an LDG allows for students as a group to vote on a preferred text, read an assigned amount of text while flagging thoughts, and finally coming back together as a group to reflect on the text just read and participating in a discussion with their peers to deepen their understanding of what they just read.