Five Curricular Components
Five separate, yet interrelated, curricular components form the core of my reading workshop, and offer a comprehensive, balanced approach to reading instruction. These Curricular Components are:
1. Invitations: Bringing Children and Literature Together – By reading aloud to children and providing access to a wide variety of quality works of literature, non-fiction, poetry and other materials, we invite children into the world of reading. As classroom teachers, it is our job to extend multiple invitations for children to sample, explore and become involved with different reading materials. We need to create an environment that provides the opportunity for literature and children to come together, and successfully invite them to join our literate community.
2. Explorations: Coming to Know Literature – Children need support in moving past the “I liked the book” phase, in order to make more sophisticated connections to texts. We need to provide experiences that help children explore the various elements and structures of literature. By focusing on particular books, authors, themes and content topics, we help children make deeper, more meaningful connections to literature. As designers and facilitators of the reading workshop, we are trying to provide experiences that help children see new patterns and relationships in the literature that we are exploring.
3. Investigations: Digging Deeper into Literature – We want children to literally “dig deeper” into the literature they read. The primary means for doing this in my reading workshop is through literature study groups. By helping children develop a “passionate attention” for the literature they read, and by providing the opportunity for them to share their reactions to their readings with other students in collaborative study groups, we help children dig beneath the surface layers of literature to uncover the more complex patterns and meanings possible in quality works of literature.
4. Instruction: Facilitating Children’s Development as Readers – In the reading workshop, teachers work hard to help children learn how to read. We don’t simply abandon them to wander aimlessly among our classroom libraries! By using various grouping strategies, sharing a wealth of reading materials, and teaching a range of reading strategies, I carefully guide the development of my students as successful readers. In my reading workshop, teaching is direct, explicit and focuses on the development of reading strategies in the context of authentic reading events.
5. Evaluation: Coming to Know Children as Readers – The decisions about what to teach and when to teach it are based primarily on the close observation and continuous classroom-based evaluation of children. Utilizing a variety of assessment procedures or “windows” we begin to develop a better understanding of the children in our classrooms. This understanding can then be used to make decisions about the resources, experiences and learning environments that we provide for our students. I will share several of the assessment “windows” that I have found to be helpful in coming to know the readers in my classrooms.