This year a big initiative in our school is to promote more free reading time in school. The studies show that the more students read the better readers they will become. This seems like common sense but so many times as a teacher, I feel like instructional time during the day should be spent providing instruction or students practicing skills taught. If an administrator walked through my room and saw students just sitting and reading would they think I wasn’t doing me job?
Well after reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller, with a group of teachers at school the power of free reading was highlighted. With our principal’s support and encouragement, our whole school has commuted to more free reading time for all students. When I think about the power reading unlocks, building vocabulary, fluency, exposure to high frequency words, and most importantly providing opportunities to learn to love reading, I can’t help but support this movement.
To add to this mindset is our districts collaboration with TLA (Teaching and Learning Alliance), a company that specializes in helping schools and districts set up reader’s and writer’s workshop model for instruction.
The other day I had the privilege of traveling to Framingham, Massachusetts with a group of educators from our district to see reader’s workshop in action. The school had worked with TLA to set up their reader’s workshop model and are now in year four of implementation. It.Was.AMAZING! In college I learned about reader’s workshop model and I have read about it, but to see it in action was something else. Students were engaged the whole time, and did lots of independent reading. The teachers were simply put, inspiring. Their mini lessons were purposeful and well thought out, and then the ease in which they worked around the room conferencing with small groups and individuals was truly a sight to see. The day spent observing in a few classrooms and then talking with those teachers was invigorating. My head was spinning with new ideas of things I can’t wait to try in my own classroom.
All I could think as I dissected the day with a colleague on the way home was, I can’t wait to amp up my reader’s workshop model in my own classroom.