This year I have committed to teaching reading and writing workshop and not using our county anthology. I am so fortunate to be able to have the freedom to make this decision, as I truly believe it is what is best for students. However, it is new territory for me (and many of my colleagues), so I have been up to my eyeballs in work. I know that many say reading and writing workshop seems like it would be easier to plan, but if you are doing it correctly it's really a lot more challenging (in my humble opinion). Although there are not as many worksheets/dittos/busy work, planning is based on the needs of the students and therefore requires frequent assessment and careful analysis of student work. So, not only am I grading my students' work but I am also frequently taking notes on it and comparing it to previous work. Despite the heavier workload for myself, I do love it. And the best part is...so do they.
So, what exactly have we been up to? Keep on reading to find out!
One thing I did differently this year is change how I use my response journals. The way they are set up is the same (click here to see blog post about setup), but instead of the students writing about their independent reading, they write me letters about our read aloud. This year, I found a great idea on Pinterest to help me model how a well-written letter should look. As a class, we read The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco. (This was a great lead into R.J. Palacio's Wonder, by the way!) I wrote a letter to the students on chart paper, and then together we identified the components of the letter and discussed the expectations. This letter now hangs in the classroom as an example that they can refer to throughout the year.
I also gave the students "Thinking Stems" that I found in a blog post by Nancy at Teaching My Friends. to help them discuss their thoughts about our reading. These are glued onto the very first two sheets of their notebooks. In addition, the students take notes in the back half of their notebooks that they then refer to as they write their letters. Not only is the note taking helpful to their writing, but they also use their notes to drive discussion about what we have read.
|Character Study Anchor Chart|
|Our growing list of character trait words!|
What has been going well in your classrooms so far this year? I would love to hear from you!