Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Did you read? No, I mean REALLY Read?

This past year I had the pleasure of implementing a true reading workshop in my 1st grade classroom.  I was tired of seeing my kids read the words but not read for meaning....basically missing the boat on what real reading is all about.  A couple of years ago I attended a small group training on Reading with Meaning right from the start by Debbie Miller, not to be confused
with Debbie Diller.  We watched the DVD's and answered the discussion questions, but like most of the inspired ideas and resources we, as teachers are presented with, too little time is given to truly implement these teaching strategies.  (sadly, a recurring theme in education)  After my own research into this method and planning on how I could fit this into the "master schedule", I decided to take the leap.  I must say that although it is frightening to be alone in trying something new, it was also an exciting and rewarding experience.  I had to tweak things here and there to make it fit for the kids in my classroom and our curriculum requirements.  I truly feel that I sent my kids on to the next grade level with an understanding of what it means to truly read.  The amount of independent practice my kids displayed without prompting has sold me on this format of reading instruction.  I must say that I didn't miss the scheduling conflicts for stations either.  (No, I did not throw out stations entirely! They just became less of a priority and we often did not get to them until the afternoon.  I had about 3/4 math stations and 1/4 pure literacy, but this subject is an entirely different post!) The beauty of the workshop format is that it enabled me to truly teach a reading strategy (with some depth) AND allow for practice multiple times in a week on the SAME strategy in both independent situations and guided.  Every teacher's dream right?!  Now, I must say that I did not use Debbie Miller's as prescribed.  I do this with recipes as well.  You take the basic ingredients and instructions and maybe add a little of this and that, until you like it.  My foundation has always been Guided Reading, then I discovered Daily 5, and then Debbie Miller.  The ultimate goal has always been to develop strong, independent students who know how to read to LEARN.  I saw my sweet 1st grade babies begin to do this by Christmas!  Making connections across the curriculum during read aloud to the strategies we were working on.  1st graders were practicing inferring skills and making valid predictions based on contextual evidence!  I have seen the light and had a taste of sweet victory!  I can't wait to see what 2nd graders can do with this!!