Reading in the Wild: Creating a Workshop Schedule That Works for You {Chapter 1}

I am horribly behind on at least three four who knows how many different book study posts. To say that the last few weeks of this pregnancy have been "trying" is an understatement. I'm going to do my best to catch up on all of my posts in the next week or so. :)

I'll start with catching up on Reading in the Wild...

The lovely Jivey (Ideas by Jivey) and Chelsea (Flip Floppin' through 3rd Grade) hosted this section and I LOVED peeking into their workshop schedules. If you haven't had a chance to look at their posts, make sure you check them out!

Last year, I had 135 minutes with both of my classes. I know that sounds like a lot of time, but I also had to follow certain requirements for both my district and my administration. I had to find a way to teach Reader's Workshop, Writer's Workshop, Words Their Way, and Skills Block (Grammar) within that time frame.

I knew that I wanted to devote 60 minutes each day to Reader's Workshop - that was a non-negotiable for me. That left me with 75 minutes for Writer's, WTW, and Skills Block. Time to get creative. ;-) I was fortunate to have an ESOL teacher and a year-long student teacher who rocked my socks off. We decided to have our ESOL teacher take over Words Their Way. She pulled our groups every day and we took class time every 5-7 school days to assess their sorts. This let us spend 45 minutes on Writer's Workshop and 30 minutes on Skills Block each day. If I had to "sacrifice" time to assemblies, testing, fire drills, or general chaos, Reader's Workshop was the last thing I gave up. My kids knew that no matter what, we were going to read every day.

Our Reader's Workshop
A lot goes into our daily workshop. It has taken 10+ years and if we're caught up in a read aloud, we might go over by a couple of minutes, but the key to maximizing their independent reading time is to keep the mini-lesson short. Also, our "get started" time gets shorter and shorter as the year progresses, simply because the kids don't need it as much. They know the routine and look forward to it.

I would much rather see my students building reading stamina rather than mini-lesson stamina. Mini-lessons are for modeling strategies, starting (not finishing!) responses, and reading pieces of a text. Very rarely will we read a whole text during a mini-lesson. If we do, there's very specific purpose. Remember, we also have 5 minutes at the end of our workshop to review the skill/strategy, share our thinking, or read a bit more.

The piece of workshop that changes from day to day is the "Read, Read, Read!" portion. I have a rotation for my guided reading groups, but my strategy groups and reading conferences are more flexible. I meet with those kiddos as often (or as infrequently) as I need to. I tried to make sure I checked in with each of my kiddos once a month in a reading conference.

Some days, I might pull 2 guided reading groups. Others, I would pull 1 guided reading group and spend the rest of my time doing reading conferences and meeting with a strategy group.

I tried creating a schedule for all of it, but I found that it was easier to plan a few days at a time instead. I was much better at meeting my students' needs.

I love to let my students read wherever they feel comfortable. As long as they aren't disturbing anyone else, they are in a good spot. :) If I have to ask them to move, I pick their spot for the next day and then they can try again. It rarely takes more than once to get the "just right spot" message across. When I have a "repeat offender" I do my best to let them work their way back to choosing their own spot. I'm more likely to work with them in choosing a spot for a week, and then gradually releasing that responsibility back to them. We are trying to "grow" independent wild readers!

I hope you've enjoyed the peek into our Reader's Workshop. I'll be back soon to share a bit more about how my kiddos choose their books and what our classroom library looked like!


  1. Ditto your thoughts on growing and improving reading stamina. It's easy to get wrapped up in instruction. Do your students set goal for their own time for reading stamina? Smiles and stop by anytime.

  2. Your blog is timely. I want to do both reading and writing workshops but am struggling with how to fit in guided reading groups (required by my district). Can you give me a little more direction in how and when you decide to do guided reading groups as opposed to reading conferences? I am sure your principal wants data on that, yes? Do you take anecdotal notes, use assessments (I hate scheduling those!) or ? I so appreciate any feedback you can give me!!