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     Although the school in which I am currently employed is a third year Cornerstone school, I have utilized the Cornerstone philosophy in my classroom since August 2004. During a Best Practices summer workshop, I was introduced to Debbie Miller's Reading With Meaning. This book forever changed my life and improved the quality of reading instruction in my classroom. 

     During my time at Troy State University, I researched the philosophy of Reading and Writing workshop and found that the philosophy of a reading and writing workshop were simply "best-practices" in teaching. As I teacher I was eager to implement Reading Workshop in my own classroom. During my first year of implementation I was amazed at the conversations students were having about the books they read and began noticing that my students were become more aware of themselves and readers. They were more thoughtful about book selections and because reflection was such a part of our daily structure students were becoming active, engaged readers who were keenly aware of the strategies of reading (schema, inferring, visualizing, questioning, determining importance, and synthesizing).  After five years of serving as a facilitator during Reading Workshop, I am still amazed at the process and am encouraged by the growth students experience because of the Metacognition that develops during reading.

     The Reading Workshop has three main components: The Crafting Session (mini-lesson), Composing Meaning (student work), and Reflection. Each session begins with a transitional signal (music) to signal that we are assembling on the carpet. Once on the carpet, the Standard, WALT, and WILF are discussed so students know the objective and expectation for the lesson. During the Crafting session, I display a piece of children's literature and model how to apply the current reading strategy or a combination of reading strategies to the text. Students are invited to turn-and-talk to discuss the strategy or to share their thinking. Once the Crafting session is over, students are dismissed to begin Composing Meaning. Students retrieve their reading tub and find a quiet place to work. Students work independently and in small groups to apply the reading strategy to their own reading. During Composing Meaning I confer with students and meet with small groups. Once the Workshop is over, the class reassembles on the carpet, where we participate in Reflection. During reflection, students share their thinking or demonstrate competency in applying a strategy.

A LOOK INSIDE OUR READER'S WORKSHOP

 
Students have access to a rich classroom library filled with
books of varying interest, genres, and reading levels.

   

 
Book baskets and Strategy Poster are displayed around the room as additional resources.

   

 
Students have their own book bin where they store their Reader's Notebook,
leveled readers for small group reading instruction, and their "just right" books. Students also have access to a variety of graphic organizers to support the reading strategies.

   

 
During the Composing Meaning portion of the Workshop, students work in small groups or independently to apply reading strategies to the books they have chosen. During Composing Meaning, I am also conferring with students and meeting with small groups.



     Because of the success of Reading Workshop, I began implementing a similar approach to writing. I again researched how to engage students as writers. I found Lucy Calkins Units of Study a wonderful resource. Lucy Calkins' work inspired me to look at children's literature not just as a reader of great work, but as a writer. I then began looking at children's literature as mentor text. I found the key to writing success was to model writing and to develop a writer's notebook. In my classroom, each student has a writing tub which contains their Writer's Notebook, a Writing Folder, and the tools needed to edit and revise writing. Students write in their Writer's Notebook daily. This is where we investigate the craft of writing, record new ideas, or simply perform a quick write.

A LOOK INSIDE OUR WRITER'S WORKSHOP

 
Students have their own Writer's Tub where they store their
Writer's Notebook, Writing Folder, and Writing Tools.
Students also have access to a variety of graphic organizers to support the
different genres of writing as well as access to writing samples.

   


Just as with Reading Workshop, Writing Workshop begins with the Crafting session.
Students join me on the carpet to participate in a mini-lesson. The lesson begins
with a quick review of the standard, the WALT, and the WILF.
Students also turn-and-talk with a peer during Crafting.

 


 During the Crafting session, writing is modeled
and students turn-and-talk with a peer about the writing craft.

 

 
During the Composing Meaning portion of the Workshop, students work in small groups or independently to apply the writing craft to their own work. During Composing Meaning,
I also confer with students and meet with small groups to discuss writing.
Anchor Charts are visible so that students have access to sample writing.