Readers’ Workshop Changes: Readers’ Response

At the beginning of the year, I blogged about how I was making my new district’s requirement of readers’ workshop work with what I already knew was best for kids.

It’s been an adventure to say the least!  So, I’ll be spending a few blogs talking about the changes I made.  This one is all about  >>> Readers’ Response!

I have begun giving reading group assignments during readers’ workshop to be completed independently.  This is not much different from the past.  However, in years past, we have completed graphic organizers, readers response or phonics sorts together during a guided reading group or I’ve sent it home for homework.  This year however, our homework system looks different so I didn’t want to add to that list.  And, can I just be honest?  I’m pressed for time during reading groups and just don’t have the time to work on graphic organizers and such during guided reading.  This has allowed me to shorten my time I meet with each group {about 15 minutes} so they can go back and work on their task independently at their desk.

I’ve always thought it would be nice to be able to have kids work on these assignments on their own, but never really knew when that would happen during the day!  Now that my kids no longer rotate through literacy stations, it opens up the time for them to work on other goals!

Here’s a look at some of the Readers’ Responses I am assigning for guided reading groups.

1. Sight Words
For my low babies (level C and below), we are working on sight words right now.  Once we’ve read our book, I make sight word flash cards for each of them with the words they missed in their book.  Their “assignment” is to read their sight words each day to a buddy at their group to help them check for accuracy.

When they return to me for their next reading group, they must be able to read all of their sight words correctly for a DOJO point {our reward system}.  I give them a star for words they read accurately so they know what words to focus on the next time if they miss any.  The star system also helps them know which words to feel confident about and which words they need to have a buddy check them on.  I was unsure of just how well this would work, but I’m glad to report that these guys have been working their tails off and each time I check them they know more sight words!

This could also be differentiated to letter ID if you have super low babies! Other times, they use their list of sight words they missed from their book to rainbow write or play one of their other games from my sight word packet.

2. Phonics Sorts
For my kiddos reading on a D or higher, one of the things we work on is identifying phonics sounds from the books we are reading.  This are so many ways this can be done, but I like to introduce the sound and practice decoding words together in guided reading and practicing reading the words in context with their guided reader.  Then, I give students a sticky note to record a certain number of words with that phonics sound.  They must have found that number of words (usually 3-10 depending on the level) by our next reading group and they must be able to read them on their own for their DOJO point.

If an extension is needed, I pull a sort from my K-2 phonics packet as additional practice.

3. Graphic Organizers
For kiddos reading on a D or higher, another focus I use is comprehension.  After we have read our book during our group time, we review a specific graphic organizer or and then they complete it on their own.  I have a ton of these in my Guided Reading Packet and these are the ones I mainly use.  You could of course do one together first so they know exactly what to do before you give it as an “assignment,” but after that, as long as we have discussed it, my first graders are pretty good at completing it independently.

In my Guided Reading Packet I have organizers for: retelling, sequencing BME, asking “I Wonder” questions, recording facts, venn diagrams, and more!

4. Readers’ Response
For kiddos on a level G/H or higher, we begin working on answering specific comprehension questions in writing.  (Of course, kiddos on lower levels orally answer specific questions, but it’s a whole new ball game writing answers to questions!)

Here is a response page that I can use with readers’ on a level D or higher and can usually trust them to do it correctly on their own!  I’ve given this as an assignment from reading group (notice the due date I wrote for them in pen in the corner!) and also given this as a readers’ workshop activity for listening to a story in a listening station. 

I suppose I’m a little lucky because several of our guided readers have comprehension questions on the back cover.  So, we use those questions and I have students record their answers on sticky notes (basically because I hate using extra copies and first graders think stickies are pretty much awesome!)  I check their answers the next time we meet for a DOJO point and we discuss the questions at that time.  Usually, by the time they are at this level we spend more than just one session on a book.  Day one is reading the story and answering the questions as their assignment and day 2 is discussing the questions to begin to model literature circles.

Once my kids get well above grade level, I’d say level J/K or higher, we begin reading chapter books. My highest group just started a Cam Jansen book.  I write my own readers’ response questions for each chapter and make them into a journal.  You can check out this one in my store and I hope to add several more titles in the future!

I usually do a chapter book and then we do a few picture books for a while because I like to have them reading a variety of texts!

These 4 independent work assignments hit on most of the 5 essential elements of reading {phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension and vocabulary}.  And the ones that aren’t sufficiently covered with independent assignments get reinforced or taught solely during guided reading.

Do you give assignments to your reading groups?  I’d love to hear your ideas too!

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