Here in our classroom, technology is integrated throughout our day. As a teacher, my job is to make sure technology is used to enhance and extend learning. We use technology to explore, discover, demonstrate, collaborate, communicate, and create. It is also vitally important that I provide students with ample opportunities to do all of these things without the use of technology.
Here's how we find that balance within our Literacy Workshop:
Book club partners choose a text together. We peruse our library, share and discuss options, negotiate and make decisions based on what makes sense for both readers. During the week, we consult with one another to determine chapter assignments. We read these chapters independently and jot down our noticings and thinking in our reading notebooks. On Thursdays, we write letters to our partners sharing our thoughts about the text. On Fridays, we have face-to-face "Dynamic Discussions" during our book club meetings.
We read independently every day. Independent reading books are self selected based on our individual preferences. We keep careful records of our reading to make sure we are reading from a wide variety of genres. On Thursdays, our Morning Meeting discussion prompt is "What are you reading?" Partners engage in lively book chats and recommend titles. We post our book recommendations as well as favorite book quotes on our classroom Graffiti Wall.
Each week, reading groups made up of 3-5 students select an informational article to read over the course of the week. Group members take turns reading with "pizzaz," paraphrasing, clarifying, elaborating, wondering, and determining important ideas as they "close read" the text. Together group members generate a reading response writing prompt based on the article and their interests. We write our responses making sure to include details from the text.
Examples of student generated writing prompts:
~ How can humans help save pandas?
~ How do raptors raise their young?
~ How do the world's deadliest predators hunt?
Once a week, each student completes an online "Virtual Reading Conference," and each reading group completes an online "Reading Group Check-in" using Google forms. These forms provide our teachers with valuable information about our reading. The information collected is then used to help our teachers differentiate small group instruction and individualize face-to-face conferences.
We have developed quite a writing community here in our classroom! Using mentor texts and prompts, we engage in "Quick Writes" to increase writing fluency and stamina and to generate writing topic ideas. During our Writing Workshop, we plan draft, revise, edit, and publish individual pieces and collaborative writing projects. We share our ideas, confer, and provide feedback to one another throughout the process.
We draft our pieces in Microsoft Word and publish our finished work using Kid Blog. Each day we celebrate "Featured Bloggers" by reading their posts and leaving thoughtful and specific comments. Blogging enhances our learning by providing each writer with an immediate audience and a clear purpose for our writing.