• Reading Workshop


    The essential components of a successful reading program are independent reading, guided reading, and shared reading.



    Guided Reading – A Snapshot

    A balanced literacy program that allows teachers to meet the needs of all students – regardless of their level of proficiency – so they become stronger, more confident readers.   Through this strategy, students are met right where they are in ability.Essential Element #1 – Choice

    Children are thrilled when they’re given a choice of what to read.  They’re much more motivated.  Who wouldn’t be?  However, since students must make a selection that’s on their reading level, teachers need to have an exceptional classroom library.  That means books on many different levels, topics, as well as genres.  And like any library, classroom books need to be organized so students can easily make a selection.

    Element #2 – Strategies

    Before students can become proficient independent readers, they must have the tools they need to be successful.  Inside the toolbox are two basic strategies; decoding strategies and comprehension strategies.  Decoding strategies help children move forward when they stumble upon a word they don’t know.  They know what to do to figure it out.

    Comprehension strategies guide students to think about what they’re reading – to make connections, use visualization, ask questions, and make inferences… all to synthesize the words they read into something they comprehend.  How do students learn these strategies?  The teacher models them.  Independent reading time is when the students apply them.

    Element #3 – Time

    How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!  How do you get to be a proficient (even prolific) reader? Practice, practice, practice!  As all musicians and athletes know, practice takes time.  That’s why time should be set aside to practice reading as well.  Also, by dedicating long blocks of time to independent reading, students quickly get the idea that reading is important.

    Element #4 – Goals

    Encourage students to set reading goals but teachers do need to specify what kind of goal.  Otherwise, a student’s goal could be to get to the end of the book.  Because there is already a long period of time set aside for independent reading, the teacher can use this time to conference with the students.  Listen to their reading and see how they apply the strategies. Then help students set a reading goal based on the strategy they need to strengthen.


    Guided Reading – A Snapshot

    A balanced literacy program that allows teachers to meet the needs of all students – regardless of their level of proficiency – so they become stronger, more confident readers.   Through this strategy, students are met right where they are in ability.

    The Big Benefit of Guided Reading

    With guided reading, instruction can be streamlined to meet the individual needs of each student within a group. That is so essential in teaching a critical skill such as reading. Instruction is easily managed in small groups and the teacher is able to give individual attention to the group members. The teacher meets them where they are, moving them along so they can progress with confidence.

    Other benefits of guided reading:

    • Reading strategies are strengthened as the students are engaged in a particular story.
    • As the teacher introduces the story children learn about cueing, predicting, and monitoring.
    • Younger students learn about tracking — following the print word-by-word and left to right.
    • Assessing prior knowledge strengthens comprehension.
    • Students can practice recognizing sight words.
    • Students learn the skill of predicting and inferring meaning.
    • Capitalization and punctuation concepts are reinforced.
    • Students learn about sequencing of the story — the setting, characters, and beginning, middle and the end of the text.
    • Students have the opportunity to practice self-correction.

    Shared Reading

    Why is shared reading so important?

    As with all components of balanced literacy instruction, shared reading provides rich opportunities for students to discover the pleasures of reading.  Because students gather around the teacher in groups, a sense of community is established and students feel encouraged and confident to read along in enthusiastic environment.  Also, young readers are introduced to different genres and authors.  A variety of reading strategies are demonstrated during shared reading, dependent upon what is appropriate for the context of the story and the genre.

    Benefits of Shared Reading

    Shared reading can take on a playful or structured approach to learning to read.  In either case, students have the opportunity to:

    • Actively participate in reading
    • Learn to predict how a story will progress
    • Understand that illustrations can help construct meaning
    • Increase and develop new vocabulary
    • Discover and implement reading strategies
    • Recognize letters and sounds in the context of the words of the story
    • Understand concepts of the printed word
    • Use structural and visual cues to aid them in the reading process
    • Sequence story events

    Reading Aloud in the Classroom

    During a read aloud the teacher doesn’t simply read students a book or story and call it a day. It involves much more than that. Teachers verbally interact with the class throughout the process. This process includes pre-reading, during reading, and post-reading activities to ensure they understand and make connections with the story. The read loud selection can be a variety of genres — fiction, nonfiction, a simple picture book, or poetry.

    Though a read-aloud seems pretty straight forward, there are actually a lot activities going on for the teacher.  These include

    • Previewing the selections and choosing those that allow students to make predictions and relate to prior knowledge
    • Emphasizing story elements
    • Guiding students with questions
    • And closing the selection with oral or written responses to what they heard.

    Why is it So important to Read Aloud?

    Words are the primary foundation for constructing meaning. You can either help students internalize the words through their eyes or through the ears. And because the first several years of a child’s life their eyes aren’t ready for reading, the best way to help children internalize words is through hearing. The sounds of words children experience in the younger years will help them make sense of what they’re reading later on.


    *adapted from www.k12reader.com