Reading Workshop throughout first grade is always a delicate balance of whole group mini-lessons, guided reading groups, strategy groups, and independent reading. My first goal, and one of the most important, is to teach the students what independent reading looks and sounds like. Not only is this an important life-long skill, but it’s important to establish it early in the school year. Once this routine is established then the teacher can test for reading levels and begin guided reading and strategy groups.
Reading stamina – being able to read for a length of time without giving up – is essential for independent reading. I help the students build their stamina by charting what independent reading looks and sounds like. I also set a timer so we can physically see and celebrate how long we read each day. Some classes might only read for ten minutes in the beginning, but each day we add another minute or two – and I’m always sure to make a big deal about it – because for a six-year-old, it is a big deal to build reading stamina!
While building reading stamina I read a lot of books that center on the love of reading. It starts the conversation on why each student has a particular love of reading – and for those that don’t, the hope is that it will help build an interest in reading. Some books that go along great with this:
After my whole-class mini-lessons on building reading stamina I begin mini-lessons on decoding strategies. I love introducing my students to our “Reading Helpers” (also referred to as Beanie Baby Strategies). I got these online years ago, but I enjoy teaching with them almost as much as the students reading with them!
Here is a condensed version (great to send home for parents):
I use individual posters for each one as I teach, then I post each on the wall along with the beanie bag that goes with it (A little tip – I found most of my beanie babies very cheap at yard sales and flea markets). I tell the students that Eagle Eye is going to be watching to make sure they’re using his strategies – the students just love it!
I’m almost through all of the decoding strategies and I’m reinforcing them through my guided reading groups. Next up – comprehension!
PS: If you need the Beanie Baby posters, just google it – a ton of different versions are out there for free!