I’ve got the structure of Reading Workshop, but now what?

Updated: Jul 16


Let’s think about this… Your classroom is filled with unique individuals—different reading levels, different reading interests, personal reading identities. What’s a teacher to do?!

Well, in order to reach all of those readers, we have to get to know each individually, so that we can build a plan to propel them forward.

Within the structure of workshop, right after the Minilesson, students move into Independent Work Time. This includes small group instruction and independent reading. It’s also at this time when teachers meet with students to confer.

I've worked with many teachers over the years and the questions are always the same...

  1. How does that work?

  2. What does Independent Work Time look like if I’m working with small groups?

  3. When exactly do I confer?

Here it goes… Picture this…

Reading Workshop starts. You have a total of 60 minutes.

(I know some schools only have 45 minutes...eeek...but it works! just adjust the times)

Check out this little FREEBIE on Teachers Pay Teachers for possible schedules and times

Okay...back to Readers' Workshop...

Let’s walk through a possible scenario.

Readers' Workshop begins...

  • The MINILESSON is completed (10-14 minutes)

  • Students are moving into INDEPENDENT WORK TIME (40-45 total minutes)

**The teacher grabs her conferring clipboard and small groups folder. As students are transitioning, the teacher walks around the room and tells members of the first small group to meet her at the small group meeting table and reread a previous guided reading book or independent reading selection until she gets there. (1 minute)

**The class is settling, the small group is gathering and she moves in to confer with one student. (3-5 minutes)

**The teacher confers with another student (3-5 minutes)

**The teacher meets with the small group (15-20 minutes)

**Teacher asks the 2nd small group members to gather at the small group meeting table. (1 minute)

**Teacher may confer with another student (3-5 minutes)

**Teacher meets with 2nd small group. (15 minutes)

  • Group gathers for the SHARE portion of the Reading Workshop (4-5 minutes)

WOW!! That goes fast!

Now this is just one scenario and happens to be what I used in my classroom on a daily basis.

Some days, I would confer with more students and meet with only 1 small group or meet with more small groups and confer with fewer students. It just depends on the day, how the work is going and what needs to be done.

By the end of the week, I should have completed guided reading group meeting plan and conferred with most of my students. Every student should have had at least one face-to-face meeting with me either in small group or in a reading conference.

Many teachers have responded to my scenario with a multitude of questions about not conferring with enough readers each day or not meeting with guided reading groups enough each day. I always respond by saying

"Step back and look at the BIG PICTURE!"

If you try to follow the above possible scenario each day during Readers' Workshop, think about how many face to face meetings you have with readers either in small group or individual.

Take a look at the weekly plan I tried to follow each week for my 120 minutes of ELA during a previous school year that was pretty successful for me and the students involved.

I like to have a visual of my Literacy Day.

Click on the image to check out the mapping tool pictured here, as well as, my small group planning tool. (It's a FREE download)

So, on the schedule you will find the guided reading group meeting plan and openings to write who I needed to confer with that day. Sometimes a guided reading group was not met because I needed to have some small group strategy instruction with students.

Remember...Life Happens! Sometimes I didn't get to meet with every group or student I planned on meeting. This could change daily as I observed and met with students throughout the week but this gave me QUICK documentation of students and groups I met and who may need more time the next week.

Any changes I made to my plan were quickly jotted on this page on my conferring clipboard. Picture it...arrows, mark-outs, additions, etc... It wasn't pretty but it was functional and informative when I looked at my next day!

This was a guide for me so I would know where I was going and when. Readers' Workshop moves FAST! There was no time for figuring out what to do next!

If you are interested in reading more about conferring and meeting with small groups check out the posts I've linked below. Happy Reading!

Until next time...



#conferring #authenticengagement #literacyexperiences #readersworkshop

My 5 Steps to Crafting Minilessons That Will Ignite and Engage is also included in the FREE Resource Library

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