Getting Started With Reading Workshop

I feel very sorry for the students I had when I first started teaching. Despite one whole class in college on teaching reading, I had no clue what to do. I think they learned despite me, not because of me. I knew what I was trying to do wasn't right, so I kept searching for the perfect answer. My journey took me from a basal reader to whole language to whole class books and ended with reading workshop.

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Why did I feel reading workshop was the right answer?
  • My students were reading at their own ability levels.
  • Students are able to choose the books they are interested in, which motivates them to read more.
  • Students can read at their own pace.
  • Students apply the instruction from the mini-lesson in the context of their own reading, making them successful.
I got started with the idea of reading workshop (I was already using writing workshop thanks to some fabulous professional development) with this book. It's out of print now and there are much better resources available, but it gave me the idea that I could have students reading different books and still be able to teach the skills and concepts required by my curriculum.


These days, I recommend the following resources for anyone who is implementing readers workshop.


This book is a wonderful resource for teachers in grades 3-5. It includes lessons for the first 20 days of starting with independent reading. 


I am an unabashed Lucy Calkins fan. This book is key to understanding the underlying principals of reading workshop. 


Laura Candler is a fabulous teacher/blogger. In addition to lessons to get you started, this book has some wonderful forms and lesson ideas that will enhance your reading workshop.

I struggled at first with conferring with students. I was used to checking for understanding by giving a quiz. In reading workshop, I needed to meet with my students and hold a conference to determine if they were "getting" what they were reading. I developed these two products to help.

The first is my Conferring Cards. These cards provide questions to help you have meaningful conversations with your students about what they are reading. They include questions about features of both fiction and non-fiction texts. I printed, laminated, and stored them on a binder ring. I carried these with me as I conferred, and I was never again stuck for a way to interact with my kiddos during conferences.



The next product is my Note-taking Form for Conferring in Reader's Workshop. This form is designed for you to record anecdotal data gathered during your conferences. I printed one for each student and kept them in a binder. Each day I pulled the forms for my targeted students and carried them on a clipboard as I met. These forms provided information for mini-lessons I needed to teach or strategy groups I needed to pull. I found these forms extremely valuable when talking with parents and when referring students for intervention.



 Each photo is linked to the product described so that you can click and go read more information.

I hope this information is useful. Do you have a favorite book about reading workshop not listed here? Please tell me about it in the comments!



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Monday Made It - Clipboard

I'm excited to link up with 4th Grade Frolics! It's been a while since I made anything, but I was inspired this week!


I wanted a cute clipboard to house my planning materials for my blog and TpT store. I've made many of these before and think they are easy. Here's what I did...

I started with a plain brown clipboard and used a cheap foam brush to paint the whole front and about two inches all the way around the edges of the back with black acrylic paint. The paper will cover the part that isn't painted on the back. I gave it 2 good coats. I left the front all black because my materials will get clipped onto the front.

Next I made a graphic using my blog elements and printed it on card stock. (Card stock doesn't bubble as much as lightweight copy paper does when you apply the Mod Podge.)I used spray adhesive on the back of the card stock and then smoothed it onto the back of the clipboard.

Then I applied 2 coats of Mod Podge (I prefer the matte finish) with a cheap foam brush, letting it dry several hours between coats.

Finally, I applied matte spray acrylic sealer to protect the paint and Mod Podge finish.

The finishing touch was adding ribbons to the clip.

Here's the finished product!

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Bulletin Board Tip

It's getting close to Back to School time. That makes me think of creating bulletin boards. This Bright Idea might be of help!


I don't know about you, but I never loved creating bulletin boards and displays. I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to making sure everything is straight and lined up. I used to work for hours, pinning, stapling, and rearranging until everything was just right. Then one day I had this Bright Idea.

I used 2 pushpins and a meter stick to help me align the items I was putting up. Simply insert the pushpins spaced about 30 inches apart and rest the meter stick on top. (I used a level to make sure the meter stick was level - now there are free level apps for your phone!) Straight pins can hold the objects on the bulletin board temporarily while you use the measurements on the meter stick to guide your spacing. Once satisfied with the layout, use your stapler to fix them in place.

If you are mounting multiple items, it's easy to move the meter stick up and down. Just remove and reinsert the pushpins where they are needed.

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If you enjoyed this Bright Idea, please consider visiting my Teachers Pay Teachers store and joining me on Facebook or Instagramwhere I share more great ideas.


For more bright ideas from different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting! 



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Leaving Las Vegas

I'm linking up with The Elementary Entourage to tell you about my trip to fabulous Las Vegas. Unlike the movie in the title of this post, my experience was nothing but fantastic.


I was so excited to be able to room with my two great friends Farley at Oh, Boy and Daliene at NotJANE. If you don't know these two, go check them out (after you finish reading here.) You will love them. Rooming with these two made the conference just that much better!

We arrived in Vegas on Tuesday and checked into our hotel room (I tried the $20 trick and we got a room with a view!) after a lot of drama with my credit card. Turns out some miscreant ran up a few fraudulent charges while I was busy traveling. After spending about 30 minutes on the phone, we got it straightened out. Or so I thought. More mini-drama came later when we tried to check out. Fear not, though, all is well.


We grabbed some lunch and hit the slots. The Flintstones were good to me, so we celebrated by shopping for shoes!


I had a lunch meetup on Wednesday and then we hit the big blogger meetup that evening.

Oh Mylanta. There were tons of people! I saw some of the people I hoped to say hello to, but missed so many more. Next year I have to have a better strategy to connect with the people I admire so much.

We played in the Go Noodle photo booth....


...and went back to our room excited for the learning to begin.

Thursday, the conference started. It was wonderful to hear from TpT's founder Paul, Adam, the CEO, and Amy, Director of Seller Happiness. Hearing about the steps the company is taking for the future makes me proud to be a part of it.

Rachel Lynnette's fabulous keynote got to me. I love what she said so much, I had to make this.


I can't believe that the presenters were willing to share all their secrets with their competitors. That would not happen in any other industry.

I attended wonderful sessions during the two day conference. These are the three that had the biggest impact on me:
  • Thanks so much to Science Penguin, Teaching With a Mountain View, and Blair Turner for making my blog to-do list grow much longer. Your Fix Your Brand session was exactly what I needed to hear.
  • Chris from Kesler Science presented a fabulous session, sharing his business knowledge, and made my store to-do list crazy long! The resources he provided are amazing.
  • Rachel Lynnette from Minds in Bloom made me think about my niche in the TpT world and got me motivated to get busy on the line of products I've been thinking about lately.
I came away with a renewed determination to work harder at blogging and building my business. I think I have something to share with teachers that can help them as they mold the minds of our country's children.

In order to keep this post from being even more krazy-long, I've left out some meetups, the show we saw (Rock of Ages!), other sessions, lunch with @farleyfarleyfarleysdad, playing in the photobooth with sweet Jen from Hello, Mrs. Sykes, and much much more.

It was so much fun to have this special shirt with my blog button on it to wear. A+ Images provided free shirts for teacher bloggers who attended the conference. Isn't it great? They have fabulous custom shirts at reasonable prices. If you are in the market for shirts for your class, head to their website and check them out!


If you are interested in seeing more about the conference, check out #tptvegas15 on Instagram.



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