Reader's Workshop: Planning and Skill Building - Room 213

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Reader's Workshop: Planning and Skill Building

You can do reader's workshop in high school AND build skills for literary analysis
Reader's Workshop is not as common in high school as it is in the earlier grades.  One reason for this is the pressure to prepare students for post secondary studies.  English teachers in the upper grades spend a lot of time on literary analysis, teaching kids to understand author technique and to write about their interpretations of the author's work.  It's a lot easier to do this when every student is reading the same text, the same page, the same day.

But what if the kids aren't reading?  What if they are pretending to, with the help of their good friend, the Internet?

With reader's workshop, students are reading their own texts, but they are still taught, and expected to use, close reading and analytical skills.  And, because they are reading books they have chosen to read, they will be more likely to do the activities you want them to do, rather than look for an answer on the Internet or just copy off another student.

However, this approach takes a little more planning and finesse from the teacher.  It means that you have to spend some time up front thinking about the skills you want your students to hone, and then planning lessons to get them there.

I have a list of literary elements that I want students to look for and analyze in their texts. In order to introduce these elements (or review), I find exemplars to show them.  I put a quote on the board and pose a question that they will either discuss with a partner or use for a quick write.  Here's an example of one that I use for the opening lines of a novel:

You can do reader's workshop in high school AND build skills for literary analysis

ou can do reader's workshop in high school AND build skills for literary analysisAfter our discussion of the exemplar, students will do an exercise or a quick write that requires them to reflect on the day's topic in relation the the novel that they are reading. I also build in required assignments that they have to submit.  However, I don't over-do this, because it's pretty easy to take the joy out of reading if they are constantly interrupting the flow.  So, I don't ask students to do an analysis of every literary element in every text they read.  They don't need to do an exercise on setting multiple times to show me they understand how author's use setting to tell their stories.
ou can do reader's workshop in high school AND build skills for literary analysisTo keep track of student progress, I keep a binder with assessment checklists for each student.  If they
have shown an understanding of each concept, they can move on.  But, if they are struggling with understanding, I can ask them to try again with their next novel.

Reader's workshop does work in the high school classroom.  Students are reading books they want to read, and they are developing important skills as they do so.  It does take a little more planning on your part, but the benefits are so worth it!

You can read more of my blog posts about reader's workshop HERE.

If you'd like some help planning your own workshop, you can check out my products on TpT.

Follow Room 213's board Secondary Reader's and Writer's Workshop on Pinterest.

1 comment

  1. Do you have these exemplars and quick write assignments in a file? I got the planner thinking that they were in there, but I don't see them. I feel like the mini lessons will be important steps along the way.