Saturday, August 25, 2012

Must Have materials for Reader's & Writer's Workshop!

As soon as I saw Lindsay's Linky Party, I knew I had to link up. The problem was I have been a little braindead when I get home. It's like the hamster in there is so exhausted from running all day that he just keels over and zonks out for hours at at time. Don't ask me questions after 6:00. My answers don't make any sense. 

But I definitely had to link up with Lindsay's Linky Party, and I just needed to wait until my brain worked well enough to do it

I Looooooooooove Reader's and Writer's Workshop. To be honest, my Writer's Workshop is a modified version - I find that students need smaller chunks of independence and so I spend more time on a ping-pong instructional method than WW allows for, but I love the ideals.
Now, be prepared. This next section is a teacher's nightmare.
One year, my whole campus was contaminated with mold. Seriously. Mold. The swamp coolers (lame excuses for air conditioners) stopped working and it rained. A lot. Considering we live in a desert. 
The library, full of lovely books, became a swamp, and we lost everything in that library. Everything
They had to throw out all the books. 

Holy cow, right?!
Because our campus was full of old, and therefore, uninhabitable, we were displaced. Without our stuff. Three weeks before school started, they said, "Guess what! You're going to be shipped across the city. Every day your kids will ride the bus for half an hour - all of them - and sometimes, you will ride the bus, too, to monitor the kids!
Also, you won't have access to your stuff! All your classrooms are being sifted through and we are throwing away things we think are contaminated with mold!
But you better meet accountability.
So we started the year in an old building no longer used as a school. We rode the bus for a week out of every four weeks. And that was pretty awful.
The word essentials took on a new meaning for me, because that was all I could afford to buy. Again. And pray they didn't throw our stuff out. Which they sometimes did. 
This is what I considered to be essential:
Classroom library
A well-stocked and engaging classroom library is necessary for kids to make good book choices and learn to read independently. I tried to have books at a variety of levels to match my readers at a variety of levels. Series books always seem like a good addition to the classroom library because the kids can get hooked and then you've got a reader. Nonfiction is always great too.
New model mini-library in my new room.

Nonfiction shelf with book display on top.

This was a nonfiction nook I had several years ago. Loved it.

Chart Paper
I use a lot of chart paper. I chart everything. Once my hunny came into my classroom and was asking about things on the walls. "They look useful," he said. I said, "They're supposed to be." He thought it was interesting that everything was in my handwriting - I don't use pre-made posters very often because I think that kids look at them, say, "Oh, that's nice," and then forget. I chart everything out with the kids during my lessons and then very occasionally I'd use a nicer version, if I thought it could do the same job.
These are some reading and writing charts through the years. Oh, how things change but how they don't, too. 

These are the sample charts I have in my room now as a literacy leader. Exciting to share with teachers!
Guided Reading Binder, Table, and Tools

I did a whole post a while back on guided reading and how important this structure is to me. My guided reading binder documents all of the work I've done with students and is a great source for a number of things. You can check that post out here.
-Planning future instruction
-Demonstrating to students and parents how their child has grown
-Supporting the RtI process
-Asking for help from support staff by showing evidence

 Last year's guided reading setup

 This year's guided reading setup

Mentor Texts
I use mentor texts for both reading and writing instruction. Our  mentor texts become our buddies in reading and writing, and we try to connect everything we do back to the texts. 
These are some of my favorites.
Click here and here for a post about Tomie DePaola's books.

Click here for a post about using In November.t
Reader's and Writer's Notebooks
Students have to write about their thinking and they have to try things in writing. We use our notebooks constantly and I've had students fill up one spiral and need another.

Included in this freebie is a sample cover for a Reader's Notebook.

And last, but not least, Post-Its!
Big ones, little ones, yellow ones, pink ones, all varieties! 
We use them to mark our thinking in our books: shared reading and independent reading.

So go check out the linky party to get some great ideas for growing your reader's and writer's workshops!

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  1. Thanks for linking up girl! That story about the mold is CRAZY! I would've freaked out.

  2. Hey Chrissypooh! I'm definitely going to use your poster ideas. My room is becoming very reader friendly. I've learned so much about literacy from you and I know the other teachers will too. Have an awesome day tomorrow!


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