Settling In to Reader's Workshop

It is now late September and children should be well aware of the readers’ workshop procedures and expectations.  They understand what good readers do and now is the time to learn HOW to do it.

1st Book Selection
The goal at this point is for students to apply strategies for decoding and to construct meaning.   Most children should pick books at their instructional level.

How do we do this?

  • Provide mini lessons on readability
  • Teach students to pay attention to content, schema, motivation, and variety of text.
If students have knowledge about a topic, than they are more likely able to read books at far more challenging levels than the readability alone.


Connecting what children know about books and what they know about themselves as readers helps them to narrow book selections.

Children need to know they are responsible for their learning and there is purpose.  By providing opportunities for kids to pick books and creating lessons that can relate with personal experiences of kids they will be more engaged.

Variety of Text
As teachers we can vary the type of text students read by having a large assortment available to students.

All these strategies must be modeled in think alouds by the teacher.  Bring in a basket of selections you are reading and discuss why you have made the selections you have.  Allow students time to practice these strategies and then have them come to circle.  A great lead question would be, “ Jenny would you like to share your books and tell us why you chose them?”

What are other ways to ensure kids choose books that are appropriate?

Book talks
Have a couple books picked out for particular students.  Begin by reading a few pages of the selection and then recommend it to a particular student.

Sticky notes
If you have particular students that wouldn’t like a public recommendation, you can leave a book in a child’s cubby or desk and leave a simple note.  “Thought you might like this book because…”

Recommending Charts
Have students create a recommendation chart for others in the class.  Create 3 columns and label with “To and From”, “ I recommend”, and “Why?”

Go looking together

Take you students to a tub of books that you know would be good choices for the student.

Pick one
Provide students with 3 choices and have the student pick one.

This is one of the best times to speak with students and their book choices.  Whether they are making poor or good choices make sure to discuss why.

If the focus is on comprehension strategies, when do I teach phonics and word identification?

Some believe that comprehension should be taught after phonics and word identification, this author suggests that they should be taught side by side.  The methods used to teach comprehension (explicit instruction, modeling, reading high quality literature and children’s writing) are the methods she suggests should be used when teaching phonics and word identification.