Ideas to Strengthen Your Readers Workshop

image from icanread

October is connected educator month and while I find it amusing that we get a specific month to point out what we do all year, I thought rather than herald the importance of being a connected educator, I would rather just share why I am a connected educator and how it helps me in my readers workshop.  Those who follow me know that reading is a BIG deal in my classroom, something to be discussed passionately and reflected upon, something to be protected.  So I always feel so fortunate when I get to borrow ideas from others to make it even better for all of my students.

As I try to sow the seeds for deeper reading, here are some of the things I do:

  • Students have thoughtful log that they use while we read and after, however, lately, it has also become a read aloud notebook, thanks to this great post from Choice Literacy.  I have had students doodle in the past while I read aloud, but this year with the start of the Global Read Aloud, students now sketch, envision and jot down thoughts as we travel through Melody’s life.
  • I always struggle with who to group and pull for a small mini-lesson, so the idea of having them turn in their best post-it from the mini-lesson we just did as a tool for evaluation was a useful one from Teachers College.  Now I can quick see who got the gist of the lesson or who needs re-teaching.
  • I have had students reflect on their blogs for years but I needed something more concrete and honest as we push ourselves as readers.  So I created this beginning of the year readers survey with the help of various internet resources and have loved the discussions that ensued.  I now also have a baseline to compare to from their weekly reflection sheets, which change according to need and curiosity.
  • The parent reading survey was a great idea borrowed from Colby Sharp, a passionate teacher I really admire.  I loved having parents reflect on what reading looks like at home and how it is helping or hindering their child progress as a reader.
  • I have some phenomenal readers this year and those readers were typically the ones I did not know what to do with, after all, they already seemed to have all of the tools they needed.  Not so according to Mary Ehrenworth, who I was lucky enough to see at Teacher’s College.  She gave us great ideas for how to support our strongest readers, ideas which when I presented to one of my students was met with , “Wow, I can’t wait to to think about that!”
  • Showcasing what I read on my door.  My school is very focused on promoting an overall love of reading and I participate in that by always having a sign up with what I am currently reading and also what I have read this year.  This idea is courtesy of Jillian Heise and I love it so much due to the great conversations that it sparks with my students and other students around the school.  in fact, last night at the school dance many of my former students came back and had to look at my door to see what I had been reading.
  • The 40 Book Challenge.  I decided that I would give my students the luxury of reading whatever they want this year, however, I also wanted to push them as readers and try to get them to read more, so create that sense of urgency when we read.  The 40 book challenge is a wonderful idea from Donalyn Miller and I adapted it to fit our needs.  Students are in competition with me to read the most books in a year, they choose what they read and magazines, graphic novels, and picture books also count.  Students get to report their books through blog posts, Skype book recommendations, speed book dating, posters in the classroom, or any other way they can think of.
  • A better conferring sheet.  I have tried every which way to keep notes when I confer and also had ample cheat sheets to use as I speak to students.  This year I finally like what I have with ideas borrowed from The 2 Sisters and Teachers College.  In my pensieve on students I use this conferring sheet to help me keep track of their goals and their progress.
  • One book to connect the world.  One of my proudest accomplishments will always be the Global Read Aloud.  This little idea has this year connected more than 130,000 students globally as they listen to a great book being read aloud and then use technology to connect and discuss the book.  This idea was inspired by my husband, Brandon, who does so much to inspire me to be a better teacher and puts up with my obsession with teaching.

To all those who have shared their ideas with me, thank you, this is why we share.


I am a passionate (female) 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, USA, proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classroom Back to Our Students Starting Today” will be released this fall from PLPress.   Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

12 thoughts on “Ideas to Strengthen Your Readers Workshop”

  1. How so you set up students to write their blogs so that you can view them, but the general public can’t? I teach freshman science and am always trying to address misconceptions.

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