We have talked about literacy in many different forms, but through the chapters and readings from Kliewer and Dudley-Marling and Paugh, we are learning about instructional strategies and concepts on how to improve and develop everyone’s reading and writing. One strategy widely discussed is the Reading Workshop model.
The Reading Workshop model is a great design for a teacher to improve every student’s literacy. The four steps to the model according to Dudley-Marling and Paugh are: reading aloud, mini-lesson, independent reading/small-group activities, and self-assessment. By implementing these steps, the teacher can keep every student involved and active with a reading lesson.
This makes me think back to when I was in elementary school. I’m trying to remember if my teachers used this reading workshop model, but I cannot remember. All I know is that I did not like reading all that much. So when I see pictures of children with books like this…
I am baffled. Just look how happy those students are, resting their hands and young faces on a pile of books that they may or may not have read. As for me, books did not come easy to me and it took me a very long time to read a passage, let alone an entire book! For me, whenever I read I looked more like this:
Maybe if I remember participating in reading workshops like the ones Dudley-Marling and Paugh wrote about, I would have read with more success. That being said, I do remember observing a second grade classroom last year and watching a teacher use a similar workshop strategy. She allotted a period of time for the students to read independently and work on different aspects of reading comprehension. During this period, a few select individuals met with her near her desk and focused on some areas they were working on. I thought it was a good way to divide her time and to keep the students occupied simultaneously.
But this wasn’t exactly the reading workshop model that Dudley-Marling and Paugh discussed. There was no read aloud time and no mini-lesson given to the class, and this makes it a less-inclusive environment than the reading workshop model. The workshop model is an inclusive pedagogy because of the way that all children can partake in the system and how differentiated instruction seamlessly becomes integrated within the lesson part of the model. Children with difficulties or disabilities do not have to be pulled out or away from the rest of the class while the workshop model is being used. With the right tools and preparation, the teacher can integrate certain modifications that some students need.
During the opening and the mini-lesson, the entire class is involved. The teacher can read a book or story to the class, ask them questions along the way to keep them focused and engaged on the lesson, and also have them converse with other children to keep everyone active. Then during the independent time, the teacher has the opportunity to interact with children individually. This is where the teacher can take advantage of one-to-one time and concentrate on specific areas where a child needs assistance in. This is purely a great inclusive pedagogy.
I believe that the workshop model fits into Kliewer’s Triadic Literate Profile and Literate Citizenship.
As the teacher reads a story aloud, children will be coached to understand the concept of reading comprehension or to improve their literacy. Throughout the lesson and the work time, the students will be utilizing their symbolic presence and narratives by trying to make sense of their world with the world of the book and relating the character’s feelings with their own. Finally, as the teacher talks with every student to see how they’re progressing, the students will use their systems of symbols to communicate and convey what they want to say.
The Triadic Literate Profile and the Reading Workshop model work together without being restrictive of one another. After all, both of these things have to do with literacy development. The workshop is a model for teachers to improve students’ abilities in literacy and the literate profile is an understanding on how children use symbols, signs, and experience to receive and transmit messages.
The video below is an introduction to Rick and how he uses the Reading Workshop model with his class (from http://www.teachingchannel.org).
An important factor to this model is how it is evidence of inclusive literacy. In the video at the 2:16 mark, Rick is explaining how he asks all of the children to talk to a partner about what their theory is at the moment or how it might be changing. He asks the children to show certain emotions and if they can replicate it. Or he asks if they have ever experienced something happening in the book. In the video, the class is discussing with a partner and Rick is focusing on the conversation of specific children. He can check in and see if struggling students are following along with the mini-lesson while the rest of the children are still engaging with each other. It’s perfect execution of inclusion.
Then at the 24:13 mark, the student, Amori, has some trouble with vocabulary words and pronouncing words correctly. Rick sits in as she reads a passage from her book and concentrates on a certain lesson when she mispronounces a word. He tells her to look for the double consonants and how the preceding letter is soft. She says “stealer” when reading “stellar.” During this part of the reading workshop model (independent reading and self-assessment), the teacher can talk and teach directly to a certain student. Rick shows he knows every single one of his students and where they need some help in. This is his time to divide his time to those who need extra help.
I was impressed by how well Rick managed the Reading Workshop model. All of the steps were effective and with a well-structured classroom, there is no doubt in my mind that every student will be able to climb to new reading levels. One final note I would like to take is how Rick encouraged the children to ask their peers when they needed help defining an unknown word, or spelling a confusing word. I love this idea and wish my elementary school classrooms functioned this way. Instead, we were afraid to ask for help and were always in competition with one another for the better grade or the first one to hand in the test.
With that in mind, I came across this today and just want to share it.
I don’t know where this came from or if it’s true, but that’s not the point. Just think, if we all functioned this way to believe that our society and our education is better if we all succeed, we wouldn’t hesitate so much to help our neighbors and our peers. If we truly value everyone else and believe we all can contribute to make a better place, that is when real improvement can finally be made.