The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Building Stamina for Workshops

I mentioned yesterday that I have organised my classroom schedule around a workshop framework for the majority of our instructional time. What I didn’t mention is that it will take quite some time before we are actually there.

For the first 20 days of school, we focus almost entirely on developing good habits in the classroom so that we students can maintain the stamina needed to work independently during the biggest chunk of each workshop period.

In reading workshop, this especially focuses on building independent reading stamina. To this end, we are tracking how many consecutive minutes the students successfully read independently. Independent reading does not mean just reading on one’s own, though. It also means staying focused on the book or text being read, staying silent so as to not distract others, and staying in one spot the entire time.

Yesterday was the first day I recorded the students’ time. They were able to successfully read independently as an entire class (meaning all 23 students were engaged in independent reading) for 8 minutes and 35 seconds. When I timed the class today, they nearly doubled that time, with an even 16 minutes. We will continue to track the time until all of the students are able to successfully maintain their reading stamina for 25 minutes every day.

Once the students have the necessary stamina, we can start moving into the other components of a workshop, especially the mini-lessons and the guided small-group instruction during the work time.

But it all starts with building independent stamina.


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