THE FOUNDATION OF READING WORKSHOP: 10 BELIEFS ABOUT READERS AND READING
Although we may not always realize it, as teachers our beliefs about readers and reading greatly impact how and what we teach, and what we ask readers to spend their time “doing”. As Jill and I began work on a 4-part series of reading workshop webinars, we came to realize that the foundation of reading workshop is these beliefs we hold about readers and reading. Here are the beliefs that guided our work:
1. Students’ reading development is directly related to their volume of reading.
“The volume students read is critical to the advancement of their reading skill and overall academic success (NCTE Statement on Independent Reading)
2. Honouring and developing students’ unique reading identities is essential.
“Because it leads to a volume of reading, we care more about our students’ active engagement than we care about any particular literacy work. To nurture reading identities, we believe that the diversity of students and their experiences must be represented in the reading in our classrooms” (Gallagher and Kittle, 180 Days).
3. All students can be engaged readers.
“Engaged readers are motivated to read, strategic in their approaches to comprehending what they read, knowledgeable in their construction of meaning from text, and socially interactive while reading” (Guthrie, Wigfield et al, “Engagement with Young Adult Literature: Outcomes and Processes”).
4. All students must have access to a wide variety of texts that they can and want to read.
“Classroom libraries must contain digital and multi-modal texts and be diverse in text category (non-fiction and fiction), genre (e.g., fantasy, historical fiction, realistic fiction, myths, autobiographies, memoir, narrative non-fiction, expository non-fiction), and text level” (ILA, The Power and Promise of Read-Alouds and Independent Reading).
5. Choice of what to read is essential for developing motivation and agency.
“When students can choose their reading material, they are more likely to read…to increase reading volume, teachers have to expand the amount of choice students have in what they read” (Fisher and Frey, “Raising Reading Volume Through Access, Choice, Discussion, Book Talks”).
6. Daily self-selected independent reading time is non-negotiable.
“Teachers need to make reading a priority in their classes so students will receive the message that it’s important. Elementary grade children and beginning readers get this message constantly – and read more and more often as a result. Teenagers need to receive the message too” (Atwell & Merkel, The Reading Zone).
7. Our role is to teach the reader – not the text.
“In our reading experiences, we can help students discover who they are and who they want to be. We can open our classroom doors wide to make sure that all children who enter, that all children who show up, know that with us they will learn, with us they will read, with us they will matter. Because they do. And we can ask those kids how we can be the types of teachers they need. We can ask those kids how they would like to learn and then we can listen to their truths and become the teachers they need” (Pernille Ripp, Passionate Readers).
8. Reading is a social act.
“Talk deepens thinking and learning. Yes, there are moments when we seek deep reflective silence in our classrooms, but these moments, but these moments are balanced by the frequent buzz that occurs when students share interesting thinking with one another” (Gallagher & Kittle, 180 Days).
9. Teachers are reading role-models.
“Teachers who are engaged readers do a better job of engaging students as readers. According to Morrison, Jacobs, and Swinyard (1999), ‘perhaps the most influential teacher behavior to influence students’ literacy development is personal reading, both in and out of school’ (p. 81). Teachers should commit to leading literate lives and becoming connected to reading communities—whether in person or through social media—that support them as readers and literacy professionals. Teachers should understand the value of different modes and platforms for reading (Garcia & O’Donnell-Allen, 2015) and build their capacity to read with a critical, discerning eye (Newkirk, 2011)” (NCTE, Preparing Teachers with Knowledge of Children’s and Young Adult Literature).
10. Authentic reading instruction and assessment reflect real-world reading.
“We believe there is greatness to be found when we gather around literature and poetry, but students do not discover this greatness through lectures, quizzes, worksheets, or poster projects. Students discover beauty when given the opportunity to wrestle with the greatness of literature on their own terms” (Gallagher & Kittle, 180 Days).
“For assessment to be authentic, it must include tasks that are a good reflection of the real-world activities of interest. This term arose from the realization that widely employed assessment tools generally have been poor reflections of what literate people actually do when they read, write, and speak… reading very short passages and answering a limited number of multiple-choice questions is not a good measure of what literate people normally do when they read. Authentic assessments of reading employ tasks that reflect real-world reading practices and challenges” (ILA & NCTE, Standards for the Assessment of Reading and Writing).