Today we are going to talk about what we believe is the most important part of the Reading Workshop Model: Independent Reading!
Do your students read independently in class? …Every day? …For an extended amount of time? Do they have a purpose while they read?
The answer is…they should. Let’s dive in and talk about what true independent reading looks like and how to get your students to be expert independent readers.
What is Independent Reading?
Let’s start with what Independent Reading is not. Independent Reading is not just “silent reading.” Independent Reading is guided by previous instruction. Think “Mini-Lessons.” What to know more about Mini-Lessons? We have a Mini-Lesson blog post just for you! Students are given a focus and a purpose for reading. Students think about their purpose while reading. They are preparing to write and share what they learned during reading. What about the teacher’s role? The teacher is not reading their own book during this time or checking off items off of our never-ending To Do List. Instead, the teacher is engaged in conferring with students or running small groups.
Why is Independent Reading Critical?
We have all heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” When it comes to reading, nothing could be more true. Students learn best by doing! Give them the time to read. Make it the number one priority in your classroom. It is not a filler activity. It is not something you do for 15 minutes after recess. Independent Reading is not the first thing that you cut from your day when it gets busy.
When Does Independent Reading Happen?
During the workshop time. It is important that Independent Reading is between 35-45 minutes including time to write about what they are reading.
Where Does Independent Reading Happen?
In the classroom, while the teacher is conferring and running small groups.
How Do I Fit Independent Reading Into My Day?
You will set your schedule. Our Suggestion: Get Started! Here is how we implement Independent Reading: Enter the classroom and quickly teach a mini-lesson on a reading strategy, skill, behavior, etc. Then give students a purpose (a prompt, question, activity) to complete while reading. Release students to independently read with the purpose in mind. Pull small groups or confer with individual students.
Simple Steps to Start Implementing TODAY:
1. When you have students independently read, give them a purpose based on what they learned during the mini-lesson. For example, if your mini-lesson was on Character Traits, students will identify the main character’s traits. Need more ideas like this? Our Characters, Setting, and Events Bundle is full of ready-to-use lessons!
2. Have students record their responses in a spiral notebook that is called a reader’s notebook. Students can use this to work on their focus and purpose daily. For example, they will write the traits down in their reader’s notebook and support their answer with text evidence.
3. Make Independent Reading a priority. Nothing can take it away… NOTHING!
4. Extend the amount of time students read each day by building their stamina. How do students build stamina? Let’s say you want your students to read for 30 min. You monitor your class’ real reading time and slowly increase the time each day until they reach their goal. Track progress using our freebie in our Growing Resource Library!
5. While students are reading, pop around the room and have students read a page to you. This is an informal conference, which is a great way to get started with conferring. Want to learn more about Reading Conferences? We have a blog post just for you! CLICK HERE!
Looking for Resources to Help During Independent Reading?