Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Seeking Readatopia

Over the years I have read about and embraced many different methods for teaching reading: Four Blocks, Reading Workshop, Daily 5, CAFE, Centers, Literature Circles, and more (although not necessarily in that order). And truthfully, I love a lot about what each of these approaches have to offer, but the issue I'm faced with is this:
How do I take what I like from each idea and incorporate it into an effective, efficient, child-centered learning program that I can actually manage?
I think many of us are on this same journey, trying to balance what we know works best for our students with time constraints and other curricular demands. And it may change from year to year depending on the children in our classes and what they need. 

So, with all of the fabulous ideas out there, what's a teacher to do? Because I truly believe in making our classroom a community and a place that is child-centered, I've been incorporating my version of the Daily 5 with a separate time for Literature Circles. Like many of you, I have a basal reader (Scott Foresman) that my district provides and expects me to use. It provides me with multiple shared texts for each week and a set of skills to teach. 

What does a reading day look like?
  • 8:05-8:25: Students doing literature circles while I meet with my Intervention group (students choose books, groups, and roles---I taught and modeled what the roles would be). 
  • 8:25-8:35: Minilesson 1: Question of the Day, Listening/Viewing/Speaking skills, Phonics/Spelling. Yes, I realize this is a lot to cover in 10 minutes, but each things is relatively short, and I like to keep the lessons "mini" because of the brain-based research I've read.
  • 8:35-8:55: Choice 1: Students may choose between Read to Self, Read with Someone, Work on Words, Write about Reading, or Listen to Reading, while I meet with my first small group.
  • 8:55-9:10: Minilesson 2: Vocabulary and/or Comprehension: Short, focused lesson based on Scott Foresman skill or strategy
  • 9:10-9:30: Choice 2: Same as above
  • 9:30-9:40: Minilesson 3: Comprehension lesson (from Scott Forsman)
  • 9:40-10:00: Choice 3: Same as above
  • 10:00-10:20: Read to Self/Conferences: All students read to self while I meet with individuals for conferences. I like having a separate Read to Self time because there are fewer distractions when the whole group is reading at the same time.
So far, it is working beautifully! Students get to have a choice in their learning that involves "real" reading and writing activities. I get to teach all of the required skills in a way that works for my 4th graders. I have a specified time to meet with individuals, my intervention group, and three small groups a day. I don't know if I'd call it "Readatopia" but it's definitely a start. What about you? Have you found it yet? 


  1. I believe "Readatopia" is a growing process! I have found a plan that works for my students and me, but the same plan may not work for next year's students. I begin my day with a 15-20 minute whole group lesson (vocabulary, comprehension skills, listening, etc.) We are then divided into 4 small groups based on ability levels. I meet with each group daily for 15-20 minutes each. We used a shared text and work on the weekly comprehension skills. The approach is based on the group's levels and needs. While we are working in small groups, the other students are working in centers-Reading, Writing, Technology, and Skills (on Promethean, usually). We wrap up our time with another 10-15 minutes of whole group (wrap-up, media, skills practice, etc.)

    This is my "Readatopia." Believe me, it has changed throughout the year and will continue to change, I'm sure. I just want to meet the needs of my students in the most effective way I can.

  2. I totally agree, Cara. Next year may look different. It just depends on the needs of the kiddos! Thanks for posting!



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