…succeeds together! At Williamsburg Northside School, literacy skills are taught using the Reading Workshop model developed by the Teachers College Reading & Writing Project at Columbia University. Although 4th graders are already “reading to learn,” they still need targeted instruction and carefully chosen texts to continue developing their reading, writing and comprehension skills. While teachers work tirelessly behind the scenes to structure challenging literacy experiences, it is also important for students of this age to have a hand in setting reading goals and choosing texts. Taking part in this process builds independence, gives students a sense of ownership over their learning and inspires intrinsic motivation for academic achievement.
The process begins with students thinking about who they are as readers by reflecting on their interests and reading preferences. Our 4th graders interviewed classmates with similar interests, and then began browsing by genre to familiarize themselves with the organization of the classroom library. They then created a T-chart in their reading journals, where they recorded books that interested them and their location in our library. They listed favorite genres and titles within each genre using a graphic organizer that they created.
Our class then had a discussion about what it means to be a member of a reading community. We brainstormed behaviors that help to create a supportive reading community and created reading routines to remind us of what independent reading should look like.
We then went over ways in which you could find a good book. Students came up with many excellent ideas.
This led us to a discussion about finding “just right” books. How do we know if a book that we choose is just right for us and not too challenging or too easy? We discussed some questions we can ask ourselves as readers to help guide us into choosing “just right” books.
The last topic that was discussed was things that good readers do:
- Good readers ask questions while they read, make connections, and predictions about what might happen next.
- Good readers visualize and create a picture in their mind about what they are reading.
- Good readers re-read passages if they forgot or don’t understand, while using context clues and reading strategies to help figure out words they do not know.
- Good readers are constantly thinking about what they are reading and jotting down observations on post-it notes.
Finally, students began to make plans and set goals. They reflected on last year, answered questions about who they are as readers now, and set personal reading goals they hope to accomplish by the end of the year.
With destinations clearly in mind, our 4th graders are on the road to reading success!
Ashley Kraft, M.A.T.
Fourth Grade Head Teacher