Reflecting on how Reading Workshop Improved my Instruction

downloadReflection is something that teachers often do throughout the school year. Reflecting on what went right and what went wrong can only help to strengthen our instruction in the future. When I look back at my past school year I realized that the reading workshop model I used throughout the year help enhance my daily instruction.

After six years of teaching I can say that this is the first year that I consistently stuck with one model the whole school year. This has always been a challenge for me in the past because I would learn about new models and approaches during the school year and try to apply them right away to my classroom. Although it is great to learn about new strategies and approaches to our instruction it can have its down fall.

Rushing to implement these new practices sometimes caused chaos and confusion among my students because I was changing the way they were used to doing something. I’m not saying to take what you learn and put it in your back pocket, what I’m saying is take what you learn and apply what works with what you are already doing. Sometimes new strategies learned may have to wait to be applied the next school year with a whole new group of students.

Sticking to one method of teaching throughout this school year really helped enhance my instruction and my student growth. Here is how consistency helped my instruction and students throughout the school year:

Reach more students

Using the reading workshop model in my classroom helped me reach more students this school year. At the beginning of the school year I planned out the overall weekly instruction schedule for my literature classroom. The beginning of my week was for modeling and introducing new concepts while the middle of the week consisted of small groups and the end included assessments. Of course this structure varied from class to class depending on my student’s ability but for the most part my master schedule was intact.

At the beginning of the school year I took a month teaching my students how to come into the classroom, how to take notes, how to transition to the small group table, how to complete independent work etc. Once the practice was over reading workshop went into action. After clearing out a few kinks here and there I looked up one day and realized my classroom was running smoothly. I was able to work with three small groups each day and had time to “teach between desk” as my students worked independently.

downloadTime spent wisely

Another benefit to sticking to one model or method of teaching in your classroom is that the time spent with your students become more valuable. Using this model throughout the whole school year allowed me to make small changes that would benefit the time I spent with my students. For example, my small group instruction time was geared towards reinforcing the skill of the week. I would pull students from their independent work to work with me in a small group setting.

Students knew the routine and were excited to come to the group table each day. This was the time we spent together diving deep into the content we were reading or having discussions about how to approach identifying the skill. During this time students held discussions among their group and answered scaffold questions. I was able to make observations and take note on challenges that individual students faced. This allowed me to be able to refer back to my notes and hold individual conferences in order to address student need.

Building student independence

While I worked with students in small groups for the majority of the class period the other students spent time working on their own. During student independent time they were responsible for completing their weekly learning task. These task consisted of several things such as reading, writing and creating. My students were given choice during this time as long as it was related to the skill and the text we were reading. At the beginning of the year I walked students through each choice board task and how to complete it. As the year progressed I realized fewer questions were being asked and students worked diligently to get the task done. They knew the expectations and had the autonomy to complete the work successfully.

QEFF7637Improved student behavior

With clear expectations and routine structures in place to support my students, behavior management decreased. This was honestly the first year that I dealt with a minimum amount of behavior problems. In the past I have always had strong class management skills but the consistency in daily routine clearly helped increase student behavior. There was no constant interruption during small group instruction or taking time out of teaching to manage poor behavior. The expectations were so high that students had no time to clown around, there was only time to work in my classroom.

In summary, an increase understanding of the way I wanted to organize the daily routines in my classroom help enhance my instruction this year. Using the reading workshop model to provide students with modeling, small group instruction, independent work and collaboration improved my student’s performance. Sticking to this main practice not only strengthen my daily instruction but increase the autonomy of my students.

What practices do you use in your classroom? Share your ideas below. We would love to hear from you.