Ramping Up Readers' Workshop

Most of us who are elementary teachers know we are going to have to teach readers to grapple with complex text in order to help them meet the more speedy growth that common core requires but we don't know yet what exactly that will look like in our classrooms.  We can't go faster or squeeze in more lessons so we need to be very prescriptive about what strategies we use to move our students through text levels and help them respond critically writing about what they read. 

Kathleen Tolan
On Day 2 of Teachers College Reading Institute, Kathleen Tolan reminded us about not forgetting to use the important metacognitive strategies in our lessons but showed us ideas to help students dig deeper for more complex work. 

*  Visualization and Envisionment help students be more engaged in their reading because they see it in their minds eye.  What you envision may be wrong until the text corrects you.  As a reader, you adjust to what the author is showing you with their words.  This is why reading fantasy can be so hard because you don’t have a schema for what something may look like.  You can practice this with kids by reading aloud and having them close their eyes while you read something.  They can sketch what they are see in their mind movie.  This is a whole part of reading that can be lost to some students.  Build the world of the story.  When you can do this and you really understand the character you can better make predictions.  Prediction engages students.  It makes them want to find out if they are right.  Kids can be unspecific about what they think “I think she will be able to do it”  Make them predict the steps that leads to their prediction.  When the prediction is wrong, then you have some work to do about why they predicted wrong. 

* Character work is important because it helps us understand why characters do the things they do.  What are the traits of this character?  Help kids understand which traits might be positive or negative, what happened in the story that might change the character’s traits.  Find text evidence to support it or things that are evidence to the contrary.  Read over your jottings during reading and find out how they go together.  Group your jottings together to make new ideas.  Look at your jots through the eyes of another character.

*Theme in a book is not looking at what book is about.  It is about the aspect of that topic.  Example:  Book is about Friendship.  Theme is how friends can be there for you when you are going through a hard time.  Don't let kids get away with broad statements.  They should be used to you saying, "Say more...".

*Make a chart of sentence starters for students to dig deeper and tell more about their noticings and judgements after reading.
To add on...
This makes me realize...
My other theory is....
The bigger idea I am having now is....
In other words...

Digging Deeper
How do we help our children know that there is hard work that will have to be done for a book?  Tell them.  When you are modeling for your students you need to point out what you are doing specifically, because this is hard work and they need to know exactly the steps to do.  It is possible to over-scaffold or over-coach but you need to be honest about the hard work they are doing so they expect to struggle and reach for the answer.

Because reading is invisible, we have to make it more tangible for kids. There is not a reading skill that we don’t use in life.  Watch their actions and point out when they predict and infer and make connections when they are just living their lives as readers.

Cross posted on LIVE from the Creek


Fran said...

Nice post with some very solid thoughts for digging in deeper with any text. I keep reminding teachers of kindergarten and first grade students that they will help set the "patterns" for thinking but we are not expecting K-1 students to carry this load by themselves. The CCSS standards do not require "more complex text" in Kindergarten and 1st grade. We do need the students to be reading, writing and thinking but we do NOT have to rush through everything to get to that stage!

I love how the messages from #TCRWP are pretty consistent no matter who is doing the speaking!