Sunday, February 21, 2010

Empower Your Readers

Remember my earlier blog post in which I said I was abandoning AR? Many teachers have written to me to ask me how I'm teaching reading without AR and whether I'm happy with my decision.

My response has been that my students and I both love the way our reading classroom works, and it's proven to be very effective (based on comparisons with my grade level, school, and district quarterly reading scores). I'm using a modified Reading Workshop approach that I call the Power Reading Workshop. It combines the relaxed atmosphere of a Reading Workshop with individual accountability and goal-setting. My students love to read and actually complain when it's time for reading to end each day. "Noooo.... I'm just getting to the good part!" "Just 5 more minutes...please!" When was the last time your students begged you for more reading time?

In fact, I'm so happy with how things are working that I'm working on a book to make these strategies available to other teachers. There are many wonderful books about how on the Reading Workshop concept, such as The Book Whisperer and Igniting a Passion for Reading. However, my book will be a little different because it's a step-by-step approach to implementing a Power Reading Workshop. After much deliberation and input from other teachers, I've decided to call the book Empowering Readers: A Quick Start Guide to Reading Workshop.

Unfortunately, the book probably won't be ready until summer. I thought I could write it up in a month or two, but I'm still tweaking the strategies. I put together an email discussion group to give me feedback and test the ideas, and we've all found this project to be an exciting endeavor.

Last week I had an "ah-ha" moment about how to make this information available right now. Instead of making people wait until summer to buy the book, why not allow them to buy it now and participate in the discussion group as the book is written? It's like getting the book in advance, along with the support of an outstanding group of teachers during the implementation process. Each time I update the book with additional material, I post it to the discussion group files and make it available to all members. Our group is called the Empowering Readers Learning Community. When the book is complete, all members will have access to the final ebook.

If you are interested in discovering more about the Empowering Readers Learning Community, visit You'll be able to download a preview version of the first 10 pages of the book and find out more details about how to sign up for the Learning Community.

As you consider starting a Reading Workshop in your class, it might help to read one member's comment to the group. Rita wrote, "I started using Reading Workshop the third week of January. I used your 10 day start up lessons. Laura, I have been teaching 41 years and this is the first time that I have ever felt that a reading program really got students excited about reading. I love the fact that the Reading Workshop approach allows students to select their own good fit books and they actually spend time reading. The atmosphere in my room is wonderful during reading period."

Interested? Don't wait any longer to learn how you can inspire your students to love reading!