Reading in the 21st Century!


Our reader’s workshop has gone digital!  When I reflect on my own reading habits, it’s surprising how much internet content I read daily.  Our children live


in a very different world than we grew up in. Today’s children have grown up with internet access from multiple devices. Several students in our class got iPodTouches for Christmas. Emal brings his in everyday to read his ebooks. He takes notes on digital sticky-notes while he reads. Today, another student told me she was selling her Nintendo DS because she got an iPod Touch, and it can do a lot more than her DS. Another student shared his new DS with me today and was showing me he had Skype on it and could video conference when wifi was available. It’s easy to assume in this technological world we live in that our children will learn how to read and write (yes, write!) on the internet. However, like reading a book or writing a story, reading and writing on the internet needs to be taught and practiced.

IMG_1512So . . . during independent reading, each child has a “netbook” day.  On their assigned day they have the choice to read online.  I bookmarked several websites for students to locate and read interesting articles on the internet (check out ‘Online Reading Links’ on this blog).  One very popular site is TweenTribune.  This website is designed for 8-12 year olds (i.e. Tweens) and contains interesting, current internet articles in all subject areas.  Students can comment after reading an article, but comments must be a minimum of 25 words. I approve all comments before they are posted.  This connection between reading and writing helps develop active reading strategies (ex. connections, questions) and critical thinking skills.

hindenburg 2I am also trying to weave digital content into guided reading too.  Students participate in guided reading groups every other week.  Recently, one group was reading about the Hindenburg disaster.  I shared with them footage of the disaster in an effort to bring their nonfiction article to life. Students then researched one survivor from the Hindenburg to learn their story. We are now in the process of creating a Voicethread (ask your child to share with you) where they assume the role of their survivor and tell the story from the survivor’s point of view. Stay tuned for a blog post in the near future sharing this wonderful project. Think about the deep level of comprehension and understanding these students gained from this technology infused reading group!

IMG_1517On the writing side, we have also started blogging about our independent reading in lieu of a hand written letter in notebooks. When we blog about our reading and share our thinking, we are writing for a wider audience. Not only will students receive comments from me, but also their classmates!  When I was growing up, there wasn’t an internet, let alone the ability to create internet content.  Once the internet became popular, I never dreamed I’d one day be able to publish internet content, but look at me now . . . I write comments, articles, and post resources on a daily basis.  This is the world we live in and it is the norm for our children.  I believe my job is to prepare them for this new world. . . .a new world that is evolving even now as I write this blog post!  Thank you for sharing your wonderful children with me!

Image Attribution: Flickr by History In An Hour Rupert Colley

Reader’s Workshop

What is a reader’s workshop? Reader’s workshop is an approach to reading instruction that includes both guided and independent reading experiences in a workshop format. What does a reader’s workshop look like?  Reader’s workshop follows a predictable format and includes tons of READING!!!!

We begin each workshop with a mini-lesson. This is my opportunity to teach reading strategies and model my thinking to the class. Last week we read a Discovery magazine article on the Titanic and learned how to link text clues with our background knowledge to infer the meaning of unknown words. This was a challenging skill for most of the class, so we will continue to practice in guided reading groups for the next several weeks. This week we are inferring the meaning of inferential headings and subheadings in nonfiction. We use National Geographic Explorer magazines for practice because every issue is engaging, current and full of inferential subheadings!

The majority of our workshop is devoted to reading. Students alternate weekly between self-select independent reading and guided reading groups.

  • When students spend their week reading independently, they write a letter about their thinking by Friday. Students now have a choice of how they will share their deep thinking: traditional letter or blog entry. Our blog has been active with thinking as most choose this option.  Students enjoy having a choice of format.  We also work with fluency groups during this time and confer 1:1 with students about their independent reading.



  • When students participate in guided reading groups, we meet every other day for a guided reading lesson. Guided reading groups utilize short text and focus on specific skills students need.  Reading self-select books is at the heart of our reader’s workshop, so students in guided reading groups usually have enough time to complete their group work and spend time reading their self-select book.


We end workshop most days with some type of sharing activity. This often is a “turn and talk” with your nearest neighbor about your thinking or your work during reader’s workshop.

Please consider commenting on how helpful this post was to you as a parent.

Reflections on The Giver

Anyone who’s spent any time in my class knows I love The Giver.  I have read it at least 15 times and look forward to reading it at least 15 more!  We recently finished reading The Giver and used a tool called VoiceThread to reflect on the major themes in this book.  In this VoiceThread you will hear each class member share their deep thinking about this award winning book. 

Our VoiceThread begins with a picture of the cover.  Students were asked to share their opinion of the book on this page.  Next, we have an image that is related to the setting of the book.  The setting of The Giver is integral to the plot, so students used this page to think about how the image related to the setting of the book.  Finally, on the last page of our VoiceThread students were offered two quotes from the book to reflect on. 

To begin click the play button. You can click on one or two responses and listen or listen to them all! Either way enjoy a glimpse into the wonderful deep thinking our classroom community regularly engages in.

Reader’s Theater

This week’s reader’s theater group had the opportunity to share their fluency work using technology. Aidan, Ammie, Livy and Brooke used Photostory 3, a free program preinstalled on most Windows machines, to create a video. Now that they know how to use Photostory, they will be our class helpers on our first project later in the year.

Bedbugs Reader’s Theater

If you want to really gross yourself out . . . check out this short video clip on bedbugs!

Literal or Interpretive?

We have been focusing on questioning in reader’s workshop.  We read Cheyenne Again and practiced asking literal and interpretive questions.  Literal questions are answered with the text and help students restate what’s in the text.  Interpretive questions can’t be answered with the text and cause student to interpret and think beyond the text. We are getting good at using our background knowledge, research and small group discussions to answer our interpretive/unanswered questions.  Ask your child to share with you a literal and interpretive question about their home reading.

Nonfiction Explorations

We have been practicing making connections in reading.  This week we shifted our focus toward nonfiction reading.  Yesterday we delved into piles of nonfiction to explore this genre’s features (timelines, captions, index etc).  They are AMAZING nonfiction detectives!  Each group found many different examples and were working together to decide how each feature helps them understand nonfiction text.

Monday, May 4, 2009

We are hearing about Swine Flu everywhere. BrainPop, an educational website that produces videos and computer simulations for teachers and students, has created a video to help kids understand this pandemic and know what to do to keep themselves safe. Please take some time to view it!!!

We have been finishing up our Inspirations graphic organizers in writing. Wow . . .this helps make essay format really easy for 9 and 10 year olds to understand. They are pros at it now!!

In reading we began a new skill: determining importance. When we determine importance we decide what the most important information and do some deep thinking and connecting to make sense of the material. We will be using lots of nonfiction for this last reading group of the year 🙁

Monday, April 27, 2009

As the weather gets warmer, water bottles are a necessity at school.  Please make sure your child has a water bottle at school.

In reading we practiced our visualization skills.  Students quickly realized that our background knowledge helps us visualize when we read.  The kids enjoyed making quick sketches of their visualizations.

We got our new interactive whiteboard installed over vacation!!!! I took a few pictures so you could ask your son/daughter about this new technology. We used it for a math lesson today 🙂  We were discussing “easy” fraction/percent conversions.  For example, they know that 1/2=50%  and today’s lesson introduced other fractions like tenths, fifths and fourths. 

Virtual Fieldtrip to Mount Everest

We have only three days left until April vacation. Please remember that home reading is due even for vacation weeks!! If you’re on the go . . . try a kids magazine for a change. They’re high interest, engaging and portable.

We have been learning about climbing Mount Everest this week by asking questions and searching for answers. Today we discussed whether or not hikers used vehicles to get from Kathmandu to base camp. We decided that probably they used Yaks to carry supplies, but that you had to hike the 100 miles to get to base camp. I was doing a little more research and found these pictures. I think we were on the right track today!!

Check out the widget below (EVEREST) and visit the site!! You can watch video of climbers, see pictures taken on Everest, and read blogs written by climbers. 



Monday, April 13, 2009

We had a busy day today . . . we started by our day reading Amazing Grace from Mary Hoffman.  Later we wrote an on-demand response to text based on this great story!  The class worked SOooo hard writing their essays and showing their best writing and thinking skills.  BRAVO!!

In reading we are practicing answering our questions by inferring.  To help us we are using a terrific nonfiction book called On Top of the World by Steven Jenkings.  Today we asked questions about how people prepare and climb Mount Everest.  Tomorrow we will search for answers to our questions.

It’s hard to believe how long we’ve been in class.  Check out these pictures from the beginning of the year during our Rainforest unit.