This year, I’ll be going back to teaching kindergarten. Even in kindergarten, I run a full-blown reading workshop. So, yes, my reading instruction happens in less than 15 minutes and then I send those lovely little 5 year olds off to…READ. No centers, no crafts, no stations (during reading workshop)… they just read. They have a basket of books and some tools that aid in their reading… but, I’m a no-frills kinda lady. We’re readin’ in this class. So what happens when they can’t conventionally read?
What does this mean? There is a good book that says that the power of life and death life lies within the tongue. What our students say and believe has great power. If we can get them to believe that they are readers from the first day of school, then the chances of them behaving like a reader will more than likely increase. How can we do this?
*Encourage them to think about the kind of reader they are — and share it! Are you the kind of reader who LOVES fairytales? Maybe you can’t get enough animal books. Readers have a “thing!” What’s yours? Let’s share. Click the photo for more details!
*Model your love and excitement for reading. Book talks are key! Reading aloud is key-er than key (no it’s not a word). This is infectious and the goal is to get them to believe that they are not only readers… but they are readers that LOVE it. I bring in a bag of books that I’m reading. I include fiction (novels), magazines, manuals (for my new gel nail lamp that I need to learn how to use), and a few other things to show them the kind of reader that I am. I also show them my reading notebook — just to show that readers write about what they read.
*Make them say it. I’m serious. Out loud: “My name is Kesha and I am a reader!” Now turn and tell your neighbor. We are indoctrinating here. Every kindergartener that came in ready to say they don’t know how to read will have a new set of beliefs by the end of that day!
Lastly, I teach my kids to stand up for their reading rights. Lots of well-meaning families might respond to their child reading with something along the lines of “Oh, you’re not a real reader because you didn’t read the words.” I tell them that what they are doing in school IS real reading and it’s ok to tell their family and friends that. I send them home with a poem on the first day of school so the conversation can begin at home. I also send the poem home AND a parent letter explaining the lesson that was taught today. This gets the family on board! Click the images below to learn more!
These can be copied on flesh-tone colored paper or white paper.
We can teach them to read on the first day because the brilliant minds of Matt Glover and Kathy Collins have given us an amazing definition of reading:
Reading is an interaction with a text during which the reader uses a variety of resources within the text (i.e., words, pictures, graphic elements, etc…) and within themselves (schema, skills, strategies) to make meaning.
Well how ’bout that? I can teach my kindergarteners how to interact with the text on the very first day. In my mini-lesson, I will model how to pick up any book and read it. I’ll sketch out a chart that shows how to look at the pictures, give the characters voice, and notice what seems to be happening. I might even show them two books that day — a fiction book and a nonfiction book. A lot of us teachers don’t read nonfiction aloud enough. Our young readers won’t know how to interact with a nonfiction text if we don’t model it. Kids are quick. They’ll do what you show them! In addition, read aloud lots of books that are memorable but not memorizable. The more they see you interact with a story, they more they will know what to do with their time during independent reading.
You won’t do one-on-one conferring on the first day, but you can get around and meet with chunks of kids! During this session, use the directive, “Would you read this book to me?” instead of “Can you read this book to me?” This assumes that the child is a reader. It’ll make a big difference.
On the first day, coach your students into interacting with the book. Show them how to point out the characters and notice the details in the illustrations. Take notes on what you notice from the very first day! This is the conferring sheet that I use to confer the first few weeks of reading workshop. Click the image below to check it out!
Now, of course this is not how we will spend the entire year reading, but it will give your students a reading identity and the ability to build stamina for independent reading. We will eventually bridge the gap from unconventional reading to decoding but there is always a place to support students in books that they cannot read. There is much to learn from this!
So, don’t count your kinders out for reading workshop. They aren’t too young to do it. Any time students are spent engaging in real reading- it’s meaningful.
With Love and Real Teaching,
LaNesha Tabb is a primary educator from Indianapolis, Indiana. She specializes in workshop teaching in all areas. She has 10 years of experience as a classroom teacher. LaNesha is passionate about real reading, real writing, and real learning. Her mission is to show primary teachers that little students can handle big work. You can connect with her on her blog Education With An Apron, her TpT store, and on Instagram.