Our contributors lead reading workshops in classrooms with creative flair. Over the past 12 years, we've filled our site with loads of suggestions, tools, and tips for using engaging books throughout the curriculum to hook kids on reading. Here is where you will find many stories of successful and not-so-successful workshop days, and what we learned from them. We bring these stories to life through hundreds of video examples.
If you want stronger poetry from students, a good starting point might be to explore how to write a powerful simile. Gretchen Schroeder explains how she helps her high school students play with and create better similes.
Gigi McAllister leads a group of boys who are just starting the novel in verse The Crossover in her fourth-grade classroom.
Christy Ruth-Levine leads a small group of eighth graders as they explore how to include textual evidence in their literary analysis essays.
Suzy Kaback finds the task of creating readers’ guides helps students in the intermediate grades think about evidence in texts in more sophisticated ways.
Gretchen Schroeder finds just telling her high school class to include textual evidence when making points and arming them with sticky notes leaves many students bewildered. She regroups and comes up with activities to scaffold their understanding of what makes for valid evidence.
Gretchen Schroeder’s high school students are surprised to see a deck of cards on their supply list. The cards are a tool for teaching the vocabulary of tone in creative ways.
Gretchen Schroeder reflects on why some of her students have developed a fear of reading by the time they reach high school.
Christy Rush-Levine confers with Olivia about the principle of cause and effect in the novel she is reading.
Katrina Edwards begins her conference with first grader Ava by having her share what she learned from a picture walk through a simple text, and then she helps her use pictures to decode text while reading.
Christy Rush-Levine emphasizes “reflaction” in her reading conference protocol — reflection that leads to action for her students.
Lucas leads a minilesson in Franki Sibberson’s fifth-grade class on connecting facts from different sources.
Mark Levine finds Russell Freedman book clubs are a great way for his middle school students to deepen understanding of history and empathize with young people who lived through previous eras.
Christy Rush-Levine confers with Omar, who is reading The Rock and the River. The book is a fictional account of a tumultuous time in civil rights history, considering protests through a child’s eyes.
A heavy sigh from a student is a cue to Shari Frost that he has heard the same Martin Luther King picture book biography one too many times in February. She shares her top picture book picks for expanding children’s awareness of black history all year long.
“I read 35 pages!” An elated student deflates Bitsy Parks in her first-grade classroom. By mid-fall she is alarmed at the responses of students to their reading in the whole-group share — they are all about quantity, with no thinking or reflection. She uses modeling and careful questioning to foster more thoughtful reader response.
Christy Rush-Levine integrates reading responses into her preparation for reading conferences, and then uses the responses as a tool to build goals and insights within the conference.
Christy Ruth-Levine confers with Edith, who is tracking character changes in the novel Room.
Franki Sibberson finds teaching students to annotate while reading is one of the best ways to promote ongoing reflective response in her fifth-grade classroom. She shares how she starts teaching annotation skills early in the year.
Matt Renwick encourages you to ask a few critical questions before you adopt the 40-Book Challenge or any other activity with a number for a goal you’re going to be tied to all year long in your classroom.
“How do you know what level they have selected?” a visitor asks Bitsy Parks as she observes during a first-grade independent reading period. “I don’t,” Bitsy responds, and explains why it is a beautiful thing.
Shari Frost helps a teacher who has guided reading groups that have run amok, and discovers the real culprit is a lack of time for reading and writing in the literacy block.
Tara Smith covers all the basics of how to get organized in middle school for the first days of literacy workshops.
Bitsy Parks uses reading share time early in the year to describe and summarize the work in two conferences to help students learn how conferring, independent reading time, and strategy practice work. One of the books used in a conference is from a recent read aloud.
Katherine Sokolowski builds interest in a new book in the classroom library through a book talk on Wish Girl.
Christy Rush-Levine writes about the push and pull of wanting to put books into students’ hands, and needing at the same time to give them room to explore the classroom library.
Franki Sibberson explains how she watches students closely and adjusts her library based on what she sees all year long.
Gretchen Schroeder finds new routines in her high school workshop means letting go of old expectations.
Katrina Edwards demonstrates a read and think check-in from her first-grade classroom.
It’s not an invitation if students are required to accept it. Franki Sibberson explains how engagement depends upon true choice and lots of options in her fifth-grade classroom.
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