Direct and explicit strategy instruction where the content changes from day to day, but the architecture remains the same.
Architecture of a Minilesson:
- Connect : tell students about what they will be taught and talk about how this lesson will fit into the work they've been doing and how it will fit into their lives as writers and readers
- Teach : demonstrating a strategy or retelling a vignette or re-enacting something we've seen others do
- Active Engagement: the children are given an opportunity to try what has been taught, or to imagine themselves trying it.
- Link : We link the Minilesson to the ongoing work of today's workshop. This makes it likely that at least some children transfer the Minilesson to their independent work, and that it becomes part of their ongoing repertoire.
- Share : At the end of the workshop we gather students to share.
A block of time during which children:
- Learn from direct instruction: Minilesson
- Read independently and in partnerships
- May be gathered for small-group guided reading or strategy instruction
- Meet with the teacher for individual conferences
One-on-one meetings that average 5 minutes in length during which the teacher gathers information about the work the student is doing by listening and observing, compliments the student on that work, decides upon and names a teaching point, teaches that point, and steps back to watch the student try. Conferences also end with a link.
This is an integral part of each workshop and conference. These are not simple good-work-you-are-doing-great kinds of compliments. The teacher looks for direct application of a strategy that good readers employ and names exactly what it is the student is doing well. This not only validates and honors each student as a reader; it also has the domino effect of being heard by those in the general proximity who in turn want to implement that strategy. When readers are proud of their readily work, it shows in their continued commitment to do their best.
Small Group Strategy Lesson
While students are reading independently during Reader's Workshop, teachers gather small groups (3-5 students) who would benefit from the same lesson. This could be a re-teach of a previously taught lesson, a lesson focusing on a particular reading skill the students could strengthen, or an opportunity to extend and go deeper with a strategy. The architecture is similar to a minilesson where the students are told the specific strategy to be taught, the teacher demonstrates that strategy, and the students are given an opportunity to give it a try.
Just right books
These are books that match each student as a reader. Of course this changes over time as readers practice the reading strategies. A just right book is one that:
- Sounds like a conversation as you read (fluency)
- You know almost all the words (vocabulary)
- Mostly makes sense (comprehension)
When these criteria are met, students are best able to build their fluency, vocabulary and comprehension because when they are reading at their independent level; they are not struggling with the text. This allows students to go deeper in to the meaning.
These are well read and well-loved books the teacher reads over and over (aloud, in small groups, or during conferences) to demonstrate the strategies he/she teaches. The books are chosen from the many sources of excellent children's literature.
In this "group discussion" format, students are coached to:
- Listen.good talk lies in the listening to others and to authors
- Stretch out their thinking by saying because..
- Support their thinking by providing evidence from the text
- Ask questions of other students like:
- Can you say more?
- Why do you think that?
- What do you mean by that?
- Can you give me any example from the story?
- Discuss with their peers without looking for teacher approval.students may argue with each other. It is acceptable to disagree. If there is a disagreement, the text must be consulted and proof must be given to show which argument is the strongest. Or, there may be different points of view.