Sunday, January 24, 2010

Posting Series: Reflections on That Workshop Book #1

This winter/spring I am learning from a course for professional development through a local group called the Literacy Connection. I have taken the yearly course over the past several years with the Literacy Connection and have been blessed to learn from educators and writers including Georgia Heard, Lester Laminack and Carl Anderson. This year the course focus is based on the work of Samantha Bennett, author of That Workshop Book. This book is already helping me to jump start my reading and writing workshops.

Samantha Bennett believes in the strength of teachers listening to students. She says, "In classrooms, students read, write and talk about content in order to learn how to read, write, talk and develop their dispositions as thinkers. Teachers listen all along the way to students' writing, their conversations, their stories and their questions. " All of this listening drives where we guide students the next school day. This habit of listening is assessing. It helps me know what my students understand or don't understand and then plan for what next.

In my own classroom, I have been stuck with "what next " for read aloud. My students love to think aloud about what is happening, what is going to happen, why events happen, characters and their connections to the story. I have used an anchor chart to record their thoughts as we have enjoyed read alouds throughout the year. I want to guide their conversations so they are thinking deeper and then later I want to see if they are ready to apply this to their own reading. To help me plan how to do this, I looked back at an old anchor chart I used to record the kids thinking for the read aloud Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins. I noticed that their thoughts were focused on character, inferences and connections (though I didn't record all of them on our large chart). I thought about how a few were noticing theme in chapters. I also noticed the kids were not in the habit of questioning or using the text to support some of their comments about characters. SO, by looking back at their thoughts, I was able to create a focus for reading workshop work. Knowing they are thinking about character, connections, and theme in chapters, I am thinking questioning may help them think about the whole story as well as allow me to guide them to use the text to support their thinking about the questions they ask. In my next reflection post, I will share how I am using the structure of reading workshop to think about questioning.


Camille said...

What a great book to do that with. Excellent. Really!

Karen said...

I'm so excited about being part of a cross-grade level conversation with this book as our focus!!

Cathy said...

So, is this a book that I need to get for my workshop? I teach second grade, and am in my fourth year of trying workshops in my classroom. I have found that they have saved me and my passion for teaching!

katied said...

I think this book is a great read aloud. I have used it for deepen comprehension practice, conversation and pure enjoyment. For me, I often use picture books for workshop mini lessons for a number of personal reasons (can get to teaching point quicker, they meet needs of whole group of learners,etc). For kid independent reading, this book has been great for my stronger readers. There is also a second in the series called Toys Dance Party.